Google and Temasek have been taking a crack at estimating and predicting the size of Southeast Asia’s ecommerce economy for the past four years, starting in 2016 (yes, I know that’s three years but they’ve put out four reports, the latest this week, so there.)
I’ve not had a close look at this report, there’s obviously some good stuff in there, and it’s easy to pick holes in this kind of thing, but it pays to be humble. I’ve done my own chart, below, taken the data from each report about their predictions for 2025, and how they’ve changed over time. The four left columns are more or less the years of the estimate (2016 assessed 2015 for some reason, while the others did the year the report was released in); the right four stacks are the estimates for 2025 in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively. You can see how much their view has changed.
The first year there was no separate estimate for ride hailing; it clearly wasn’t considered to be a significant sector, or likely to be one. I think a smarter analysis would have seen that one coming. It was 2016 already, and Grab was already the region’s biggest unicorn. Then there’s the huge disparity in estimates between 2017 and 2018, the third- and second-to right columns, and then between last year and this. Overall, between 2016 and 2019 the report upped its project by 50%, from $200 billion to $300 billion.
Of course, it pays for all those involved to cheerlead the region; no one is going to say things are going to get better, and it’s a good headline to say ‘we goofed up by underestimating how well things are going’. But these are big numbers, and big discrepancies. If nothing else, it’s a good reminder that such estimates need to be taken with a big grain of salt.
This week’s WSJ column (subscription only, I’m afraid) is about attention:
If you feel the Internet has both blessed you with an abundance of information and cursed you by drowning you in it, I have one word which might help make sense of it all: attention. (And, if you give me enough of your attention, I promise to give you a tip about how to cope.)
It’s beginning to dawn on people who ponder these kinds of things that it’s attention, not information, which lies at the heart of the new online world. In a world full of information, the scarcest commodities are your eyeballs and ears.
Here are some links to find out more. Suggestions very welcome, as ever.
Attention, according to The Attention Trust, is the substance of focus. It registers your interests by indicating choice for certain things and choice against other things. Any time you pay attention to something (and any time you ignore something), data is created. That data has value, but only if it’s gathered, measured, and analyzed.
A definition of Attention Data from Chris Saad. And I like this one from, again, The Attention Trust:
When you pay attention to something (and when you ignore something), data is created. This “attention data” is a valuable resource that reflects your interests, your activities and your values, and it serves as a proxy for your attention.
Wikipedia’s entry on the Attention Economy, and The Attention Economy: An Overview from the excellent Read/Write Web, are also well-worth a read (as well as the comments.) A look at Google’s role in all this from Sam Sethi, who asks: Is Google building the Attention Economy?
I quoted liberally from Anne Zelenka, who is writing a book on this kind of thing. Check out her blog here, and a great piece she wrote on where attention fits into the whole Web 2.0 thing.
Stuff to play with:
- Particls, formerly Touchstone, which is a ticker that tries to understand you or tick you off. (My description, not theirs.)
- I didn’t have a chance to write about Attensa for Outlook, but it’s trying to do something a bit similar.
- Or the AttentionMap, which “helps you keep track of your attention on a daily basis.”
See also my Directory of Lifestreams