Wagging the Long Tail in IT development

Serena software, developers of lifecycle management systems and the conceptualisers behind “Facebook Fridays“, embody the spirit of Enterprise social media: they take ideas from the user phenomenon of social media (w2) and apply it to the enterprise with remarkable results.

They’ve adapted the retail and sociological ideas of the Long Tail into how it is relevant for the organisations’ internal mechanisms. And it fits.

long tail

The Long Tail theory is essentially that the web is so vast, one can satisfy niche desires without creating uncostly overheads ie: you can sell something of little demand, and also sell that of massive demand simply because storage, and shipping in the online world is not a factor. The same is true of media: some blogs and op-ed pieces have great following, however it does not detract or disqualify from blogs with small audiences. They can co-exist, unlike in the old media world where there are costs and economies of scale associated with any publication.

The way this works in the enterprise is thus: IT has large, visible and critical applications that it has to occupy itself with at any given time. Other needs have to wait, get political backing or get in the queue. However, the influx of digital natives and social media have made knowledge workers competent enought to create their own simple applications or use existing web applications or services that come free.

In order to aid and abet this, Serena has introduced a Mashup Composer. Althought I’ve not played with it, it appears to be something along the lines of Yahoo! Pipes and the Google open APIs. Think of it as the guy in Accounts who had cred because he could write macros. And who replicated himself.

This new approach enables power users in the business and IT to quickly address their everyday needs, while freeing scarce application development resources to focus on more complex tasks.

IT concerns? Of course. The mashups will be built on top of existing architecture, and it seems like it will consume existing web services rather than write to critical databases.

About Derek

My key interests are online investor relations, websites, social media, enterprise 2.0 and intranets, and XBRL. Speak to me if you need a solution in any of these disciplines, or follow my knowledge links on this site and others. Find me on Twitter, LinkedIn or in recent conversations.