Intention and Attention – how Life Management Platforms can improve Marketing

15.05.2012 by Martin Kuppinger

Life Management Platforms will be among the biggest things in IT within the next ten years. They are different from “Personal Data Stores” in the sense of adding what we call “apps” to the data stores and being able to work with different personal data stores. So they allow to securely working with personal data by using such apps which consume but not unveil that data – in contrast to a data store which just could provide or allow access to personal data. They thus are more active and will allow every one of us to deal with his personal data while enforcing privacy and security. Regarding “Personal Clouds”, that might be or become Life Management Platforms. However I struggle with that term given that it is used for so many different things. I thus prefer to avoid it. Both today’s personal data stores and personal clouds have a clear potential to evolve towards Life Management Platforms – let’s wait and see. I’ve recently written a report on Life Management Platforms, describing the basic concepts and looking at several aspects like business cases. This report is available for free.

The other big thing around this topic is the book “The Intention Economy”, written by Doc Searls. It is a must read and even while it mainly focuses on the relation between vendors and customers, there is a big overlap between what Doc has written there and what we at KuppingerCole expect to happen with Life Management Platforms.

Doc’s basic point is that the Intention Economy will change the relationship between vendors and customers. I like these two quotes:

„Relationships between customers and vendors will be voluntary and genuine, with loyalty anchored in mutual respect and concern, rather than coercion. So rather than „targeting“, „capturing“, „acquiring“, „managing“, „locking in“, and „owning“ customers, as if they were slaves or cattle, vendors will earn the respect of customers who are now free to bring far more to the market‘s table than the old vendor-based systems ever contemplated, much less allowed.“

„Likewise, rather than guessing what might get the attention of customers – or what might „drive“ them like cattle – vendors will respond to the actual intention of customers. Once customers‘ expressions of intent become abundant and clear, the range of economic interplay between supply and demand will widen, and its sum will increase. The result we will call the Intention Economy.“

„This new economy will outperform the Attention Economy that has shaped marketing and sales since the dawn of advertising.“

Yesterday I did a presentation at an event organized by doubleSlash, a German Consulting and Software Company focused on Sales and Marketing. The so called “slashTalk” had the title “After the Social Media Bang” and focused on what companies will have to do now. There were several marketing executives and experts from different companies in the room.

Before my presentation on Life Management Platforms there was another presentation which I found extremely interesting. Björn Eichstädt, founder and managing partner at Storymaker, a company which originally started as a PR agency, talked about his view on attention and why today’s marketing fails (in most cases). Björn has a degree in neurobiology, so he is far more than just a PR guy. He talked about “attention” and the small period of time within which you can catch someone’s attention. But it could be done, as with what today’s social networks provide. However, it isn’t easy today. On the other hand, providing what fits to the current target of attention is much more promising than trying to change the attention, like traditional marketing is doing.

Taking this view, the one of Doc Searls, and the idea of Life Management Platforms the way we at KuppingerCole have it in mind shows that this is where things become really interesting: A Life Management Platforms allows expressing your Intention. The Intention is nothing other than a vital part of where your current Attention is focused. In other words: Knowing the Intention is about knowing at least an important part of the current Attention, which is much better than trying to change the Attention. Furthermore, Life Management Platforms could provide more information about the current Attention in real-time, but in a controlled way – controlled by the individual. That allows getting even more targeted information and makes this concept extremely attractive for everybody – the vendors and the individuals.

Imagine a world in which you can allow others to provide you exactly that piece of information you are interested in. Let’s give an example:

Your profile on a social network might provide the information that you just arrived at the airport in a specific city. Some vendors might track this information and send you welcome messages, pointing to their local assistance, or other offerings. That could be done based on what today’s social networks provide. And this is nice if you receive only one message or offers which really suit your needs. But if you receive 20 messages from companies which detected that your attention might be on that, it is just annoying.

In a Life Management Platform you can control whom to inform about such a “social” event. That can be specific companies or industries. They know that someone arrived at the airport and needs some specific information, about directions, the next ATM, or the next public WLAN hotspot – or whatever else. The system provides that information to you and you use the service. This obviously is the better approach.

You might ask how this differs from typing “MUC ATM map” or “IAD WIFI” into a search engine? The fundamental difference is that the Life Management Platform can express your intention once it has learned about it – and you might have the same intention every time you arrive at an airport. It acts for you and consumes your preferences like for example the personal data about the mobile phone providers you have contracts with and you prefer for roaming or the banks you have accounts at to find the ATMs without additional fees or even without fees. Entering all that information into a search engine is annoying. And selecting the results in mind is annoying as well. So there is an obvious value even in that simple use case. And for sure you might not want to give all that information about your bank accounts away – you might want something (the app in Life Management Platforms) to act upon without unveiling that information. You might want minimal disclosure.

Life Management Platforms will enable that, amongst many other things. Given that they are a vehicle to fundamentally change the way marketing is done, moving from changing the attention to using attention and intention in a controlled and targeted way. Thus, everyone responsible for marketing should start looking at the ideas around Life Management Platforms, the Intention Economy, and Björn’s understanding of what Attention really is about. It is a simple way to get much better in Marketing and save money.

  • Johannes Ernst

    Hi Martin, at the recent IIW we started calling this (and I think it's basically the same) the Personal Cloud.

    There's a mailing list hosted by the Personal Data Ecosystem Consortium at and we just put up a wiki for the community at

    • Martin Kuppinger

      Hi Johannes, at EIC before and then at IIW there were a lot of discussions around that topic. From what I've heard there – also from my colleague Craig Burton attending IIW – is that a lot of people have picked up the term "Life Management Platforms". Others talk about "Personal Data Stores" or "Personal Clouds". I think the term finally used will develop. Like shortly mentioned in the post, there are good reasons for using Life Management Platforms and not Personal Data Stores, given that the essential element is not the data store but the technology (however it is implemented and however you call it) acting with that data on behalf of the individual.

      • Martin Kuppinger

        You might opt for "Personal Clouds". I think there are very good reasons not to use that term. I've even seen adverts in German TV talking about Personal Clouds. These Personal Clouds were nothing else than Cloud-based data stores. The problem with that term is that it is too cloudy to express what this is about. So I strongly recommend not to talk about "Personal Clouds" but use a genuine term for that to clearly express what this is about. Life Management Platforms for me appears to do a much better job on this.
        So maybe you rethink that term. It would make sense in a phase where things are just developing.

        • Martin Kuppinger

          I not even believe that there is an advantage for marketing the topic we all are talking about when using a term which contains "cloud". I've stress-tested that concept with people from other domains and they pick it up. I even believe that it is easier to explain this to them when not using "cloud" because everyone has its associations with "cloud" and they might not map to the essential part of what this is about – the ability to securely and privacy-aware do things using personal data (and not only storing some photos somewhere in the Internet).

      • Drummond Reed

        Martin and Johannes,

        I'd like to suggest that we need both the terms "personal cloud" and "life management platform". From an architecture standpoint, a personal cloud is the virtual computing space around a personal data store (PDS) — the operating system that lets apps interact with the PDS to share data and mediate communications on behalf of the individual. But a personal cloud is not yet a life management platform until you add: a) apps that actually help the individual manage their life, b) a network to enable those apps to communicate and share data with other clouds, both personal and commercial, and c) a trust framework so that the interactions necessary for life management platform apps to do their work can be trusted.

        So just as a PDS is a component of a personal cloud, a personal cloud is a component of a life management platform.


        • Martin Kuppinger

          Hi Drummond,
          while I agree with your final statement saying that these things are tightly related, I still struggle with the "cloud" term in "personal clouds". Life Management requires a lot of things, including trust frameworks and approaches to make agreements and share data and so on. However, I'd be really careful with calling something "personal cloud" because this term might be misunderstood by most people.

  • Oliver//

    I am pleading for a term like "Life Relation Management" analogous to CRM.
    Not the customer is in the center point any more, now it is "my live" and its relations to others.

  • Konrad Krafft

    I was very impressed. Thank you very much for your presentation at Hope to see you at another event to discuss more details.

  • Peter Jurg

    I thinking the concept of Life Management Platforms is very interesting. I read the report and it states that one of the shortcomings of current social platforms is that they are run by monopolists/oligopolists, since that would make commercial organizations hesitant to rely on them for customer relations. The same will hold for individuals and vendor relations I think. However, for a Life Management Platform the become successfull, it must have a lot vendors connected to attract individuals and a lot of individuals to attract vendors. So before we know it, the Life Management Platform becomes a monopolist or oligopolists. And that would maybe not be a good thing in my opinion. A set of standards and protocols for a Life Management Platform could offer a solution here, if the standards and protocols also include federation/interconnection for Life Management Platforms. You could even run your own server then (like email, DNS, federated authentication, etc.).. Are there any standards being developed already?

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  • Benjamin Dooley

    It's not just the vendors responding to the intentions of the customer. That also works the other way around, which is something all businesses may want to consider before making wild claims or exaggerations of what they can do.

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