For 11 years, we’ve heard the buzzword “the long tail” prominently discussed in business. First applied to companies like Amazon, the theory is that the company makes more money through the volume of sales from lesser-known books and movies over time than it does from the popular blockbusters. The long tail of the sales chart is so long that all the small sales of lesser-known products add up to something very big.
Former Wired editor in chief Chris Anderson first popularized the phrase in a 2004 magazine article and expanded upon it in his 2006 book, “The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More.”
What does this have to do with business intelligence? Richard Back, a BI architect at IPL, makes the connection in a recent post for Tech Radar. He brings the long tail concept into the world of data and analytics.
Extracting Every Last Gram of Value
Just as Amazon amassed a fortune from a vast catalog of offerings, businesses can benefit from the long tail of analytics, provided it can be leveraged at all levels of the organization. As Back puts it, the search is on to figure out how best to use analytics to extract “every last gram of value in order to gain a competitive advantage.”
“Buzzword-heavy areas such as predictive analytics and big data are the obvious signs of this search, but what about giving more people access to the information? Why is ‘BI for the masses’ important, and how can you get there?” Back writes.
‘Doers’ Create Long Tail of Decisions
Decisions are made at every level of an organization. While executives make high-level decisions, the “doers” create a long tail of decisions, however small. This makes a huge difference, Back writes, to an organization when weighing the collective impact.
The challenge for organizations is supporting those data-driven decisions. Back notes: “It’s not easy: by the nature of the long tail, there are many more different types of decision that need to be supported, and your IT department is unlikely to be able to devote the time to making all the different reports to support each and every one.”
Self-Service BI Within the Application
Gigaom Research, in a white paper underwritten by Izenda and published last week, finds it is imperative to embed modern BI (reporting, dashboards and visualizations) in the application users’ daily work.
Back, in noting the many options for embedded BI, writes of its users: “They may not even realise they’re using BI, but having the data in front of them, at exactly the time they need it, supports their decision in about the most effective way possible.”
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to supporting the long tail of decision making, Back writes. However, he stresses the importance of all those little decisions in gaining a competitive advantage.
Izenda is a leading business intelligence platform purpose-built for ISVs, solutions providers and enterprise users. Our embedded software solution gives users the ability to analyze data in real-time, providing self-service BI to organizations.