The x-axis of the graph is the amount of content and the y-axis indicates the value of the content as defined by the organization, this value will vary across the organizations and between organizations, examples of value to consider include (1) Risk Factor; or (2) Regulation factor.
The Head of the curve is where you will find content that an organization considers high value, access to this content is typically restricted, a retention policy is applied to the content and it tends to participates in one or more business processes. Organizations have managed thise content by deploying advanced enterprise content management (ECM) systems such as IBM FileNet and EMC Documentum.
The Long Tail of the graph, which I believe contains the vast majority of content created in the enterprise, is the domain of several other applications most notably of which is SharePoint/MOSS 2007. This tail is the result of a combination of (1) the availability of content authoring tools especially Microsoft Office; (2) the lowered cost of distributing the content created and; (3) search technologies which allows all content stored to be indexed and searched. The deployment of these applications was largely limited to the departmental levels in organization and the central IT groups did not pay much attention. The deployments of these applications became so widespread that several niches developed and most of the valuable content that IT investments in Advanced ECM systems was deployed to cater to was no longer finding its ways to the advanced ECM systems.
The growth of the tail presents several challenges to the organization. For central IT groups, it is an infrastructure/support challenge, largely because the applications that enabled the tail where not central managed. Central IT is reigning in the uncontrolled deployments of these applications by incorporating them into the organization’s IT infrastructure and planning its deployment across the organization.
The LT is also a risk management and compliance nightmare for organizations. Organizations continue to struggle with what to do about the content in the tail as the value of content increases i.e. moving the content in the tail to the head. Companies would like to leverage the capabilities of their advanced ECM platforms and years of investment in developing business process, retention policies and compliance initiatives for these platforms. CIOs want to mitigate the risk and address compliance concerns while allowing employees to continue to collaborate in the knowledge creating activities which drives innovation and business results.
The challenge for organizations can be summarized as follows (1) moving content from the tail to the head as value increases (2) making all content readily available within the constraints of the access rights established for the particular content and regardless of the system in which the content is stored and (3) helping employees find content to promote sharing of best practices and reuse.