When you think about efficiency I'm guessing you think about savings: cost savings, time savings, overall improvements in delivery. More and more, efficiency has come to mean environmental efficiency: less CO2, less water, less travel, less mining, more recycling. Sometimes efficiency means getting a job done with the least amount of questions, interruptions or changes. But if anything is clear to me, its that efficiency is not the same to all people in every situation.
This concept is the key to viewpoints in enterprise architecture. The data is the data, it remains what it is capturing state and relationships and process. Where the true magic of enterprise architecture enters is the ability to distil that information in the key pieces of information that a particular audience is looking to see. Do the analytics and the aggregation ahead of time, and present that particular audience with it own viewpoint into the data that makes the most sense to them. The same data, for a different audience, with a different perspective results in a different viewpoint of the data.
Efficiency, then, is just a viewpoint. From the perspective of an invester, efficiency is producing the same thing for less cost so that profits go up. From the perspective of an environmentalist, efficiency is production the same thing for more cost so that environmental impact goes down. From an health and safety perspective, efficiency is production of the same thing more safely so that lost-work time goes down. Its all about the perspective.
So, just for a fun example of perspective, I bring exhibit A, the delivery of my new laptop. To me, efficiency would be getting the package to me from its source in the shortest time/distance possible. Now as I'm sure you've picked up, I'm quite fond of user experience and believe that form is important, so the actual delivery path looks something like this:
View Laptop journey in a larger map
As you can see, UPS's definition of efficiency cannot be the same as mine. For them, I surmise, efficiency is about processing plants, airports large enough for their planes, collocation of staff and centralization of border control. For me it looks like lunacy, but I'll let you be the judge because if I one thing is true, its that your perspective will be different than mine.