The definitive book on the new media economy has to be ChrisAnderson’s - “The Long Tail.” It offers a simple and cogent explanation for how IT and the internet has changed the economics of commerce and even the buying behavior of individuals. If you are reading this blog – then this book is a must read.

I believe that the how we are buying, communicating and even socializing over the internet will ultimately transcend how traditional businesses operate. While it used to be that IT innovation was driven mostly from the inside out (e.g. where large companies build technology that ultimately reaches consumers) I believe that we have now practically inverted our innovation dynamic. We are clearly moving to an outside in innovation model where much (if not most) of the innovation is starting out at the edge. The most innovative technology is being used by startups and in the home and at the consumer level. The simple fact is that better tools exist today to help me find an obscure song I want to buy than help me find a person inside of my company with certain skills or critical data that I might want for a project. 

As an example, take a look at Pandora www.pandora.com – Give them an artist or song name and Pandora delivers you a personalized “radio station.” While my favorite over the air station might deliver 1 in 5 “good” songs between commercials and maybe a specialized service like XM does better – these folks have it mapped to a level where you would be amazed. 

Given the “long tail” for demand of things like music or videos then it is likely that corporate and business information and data access would follow a similar curve but – I believe that, today, it doesn’t. Why? I believe that access to “the long tail” is fundamentally enabled through the creation “Information-centric” IT structures. Most IT environments inside of large companies, however, are still “Application-Centric.” To put it simply, most large companies today, even with all of their IT systems, are organized like brick and mortar stores in terms of information.

A simple example- if you work in a large company, can you:

  • Create (or have automatically generated) a personalized internal information portal based on you role and preferences?
  • Seek out help on a project by looking at a corporate knowledge base or Wiki?
  • Find some help on a project by searching a skills repository?
  • Create an integrated customer knowledge profile by tying together sales records, feedback, and external market information?

Today, I would say that most companies have mined only a small portion of their own information for knowledge. Most mine information the way “The Long Tail” describes retailing – we focus on the top 10-20%. Corporations have a small group of “Corporate Accounts” or “Global Accounts” and the build the equivalent of brick and mortar businesses around them and setup a process to maintain a personal relationship.

So, what if there was a way to deliver that same level of personalized service to the other 80% of your customers, or even within your company to your employees?  The fact is, companies have the raw ingredients (data) today. It just needs to be unleashed. 

Stay tuned for more on this topic.

Mark…

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