The 80/20 rule constrains our thinking in a digital world. Developed in the physically constrained world of 1906, the Pareto Principle (based on pea production in Pareto’s garden) predicts that 20 percent of resources will create 80 percent of value. So twenty percent of our knowledge would solve 80 percent of our problems. And that may be true for common, simple challenges.
However here, in the digital world, the 98 Percent Rule, well, rules. First discovered by Chris Anderson and revealed in his seminal book The Long Tail, the 98 Percent Rule predicts that 98 percent of the items for sale in large ecommerce sites like Amazon and Netflix will be sold each quarter, at least a handful of times. Impossible to scale in the physical world, as more items were added to these and other sites, the 98 Percent Rule held true. They simply sold more.
Enabled by digitization and technology’s ability to easily find, mine, enrich, and even predict what people will buy, the 98 Percent Rule can also redefine how often and how much knowledge and information we will use within our companies. Our companies can become the Amazons of Knowledge.
In a decades-long transformation begun with the advent of email, the internet and electronic file storage, made imperative by the explosion of systems and Big Data, and today demanded by employees and customers accustomed to unlimited choices, the ability to use all of an organization’s knowledge, everywhere—and in a personalized manner—is not only possible but economically viable for most companies.
Now, the zillions of bites of information stored in myriad systems can be presented securely in an always-changing mosaic personalized for each employee, transforming knowledge work and unleashing the next level of value creation in our knowledge economy.
What new value would your company create if it could use 98 percent of its knowledge?