Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Taxonomy: The Missing Signal in Microsoft Delve

What is Microsoft Delve?

Microsoft Delve is an incredibly useful component of Office 365. Delve leverages "signals" to automatically surface information that may be relevant to a user.

Signals include who you are related to in the organization and what content is shared, emailed, viewed, and/or modified by you or those around you.  Signals are modeled inside of the Office Graph, which is the set of relationships that underpin Delve's intelligence and recommendations.

Delve flips content search on its head. Instead of requiring a user to go look for content, Delve presents content to the user that it thinks is relevant based on the behavior (signals) of the user and the behavior (signals) of those around him/her.

Let's look at a brief example.  Imagine ACME Corp has an engineering department made up of Jane, Joe, Mike, Suzy, and Sarah.  Delve would see that all five people report up to Jerome.

On Monday, Joe shares a Power Point presentation with Suzy.  That afternoon, Suzy modifies  the presentation and the next day shows this presentation in a meeting with Jerome. These actions would be signals to Delve that would probably result in the Power Point presentation being surfaced on Jane, Mike, and Sarah's own Delve pages.  The signals around this piece of content (and the signals of the relationships between the groups) indicate that it is a piece of content of interest.

Signals drive everything for Delve; but, is Delve considering all the right signals to provide the best content suggestions to users?

More about Delve from Microsoft:


Taxonomy: The Missing Signal in Microsoft Delve

For all the good it does, Delve is omitting an extremely important signal from its model. The missing signal is the topic of the content, or what the content is about.   Delve ignores this entirely.

This is something that could be resolved with the SharePoint Managed Metadata Service and Term Store. The core benefit of the Term Store is to allow an organization to define a common language, or taxonomy,  that it can use to tag content with metadata.  A common language ensures that everybody is using the same terminology to reflect a concept.  As a basic example, a company should decide if it wants to refer to Human Resources as "Human Resources" or "HR",  Then all content tagged to the idea of Human Resources would have a consistent label.  Without a consistent defined set of terminology, a user might search for "HR" but miss all the information that is tagged as "Human Resources".

In the example above, content is surfaced among a team based on team members interacting with the content.  However, what if people aren't on the same team? What if Michelle works in a different state or at ACME Corp? Currently, it's not clear that Delve would surface any information to her from the team above.

Now let's look at the example where taxonomy and Managed Metadata are considered as signals by Delve. Michelle has an interest and expertise in "Stress Testing" and she tags her profile accordingly with "Stress Testing", which is a term in the ACME Corp taxonomy in its Term Store. The presentation that the engineering team is looking at is also tagged with "Stress Testing".  If these Managed Metadata tags were in the Office Graph, these would be strong signals to Delve that the Power Point presentation the engineering team is working on would be really interesting to Michelle too.

Figure 1: Delve already allows users to access the term store to fill out fields in the User Profile.  The values just aren't considered in the Office Graph.  


People who don't work together directly should be connected to each other by these taxonomy driven topics of interest.  The topic of a piece of content could allow Delve to surface interesting information to people across silos and facilitate true information sharing everywhere. Topics are great signals!

All the components are in place. The SharePoint Term Store is a powerful repository for creating and managing enterprise taxonomies.  As shown in Figure 1 above, Delve User Profiles can already be filled out using terms from the term store.  The next step is to add these terms explicitly as nodes to the Office Graph so that Delve can use these signals to connect content to users based on what that content is about.

Simply put, topic is an important signal, but it is a signal Delve is not currently receiving.  This should be remedied.

Taxonomy Recommendations for Microsoft Delve

Here are my five recommendations for new taxonomy based features within Delve.

1) Add metadata tags as a signal for the Office Graph and Delve.  This should be configurable at the Term Set level in the term store so that organizations can control which term sets/taxonomies should be considered as signals (nodes in the Office Graph).

2)  User Profiles in Delve have fields for Projects, Skills, Expertise, Interests and Schools.  These fields can be populated, not only with free text tags, but also by Managed Metadata terms inside the term store.  Allow these fields to be associated to specific term sets so "Accounting Methods" won't be an option for the Schools and Universities field.  Then, use the information as signals to surface Delve content.

3) More clearly expose the Managed Metadata tags that are applied to items on the Delve content cards. Tags should be emphasized so that users are encouraged to add them to content.

4) Managed Metadata tags are currently searchable, but in the Delve search interface it is not obvious that the hit is based on a managed metadata tag.   This should be highlighted, not hidden!  Enable managed metadata tags to be filterable with the Delve search interface. This will further drive the value of using metadata.  Have "Topics" as a left hand filter option next to "Boards" and "People" on the Delve home screen.

5) Use taxonomy based topics to create dynamic Delve Boards with content that is tagged with the same term(s) and has been interacted with by users who share that interest.  Delve Board titles, which effectively are tags, should be managed metadata - not just free form tags.

Conclusion

Adding Managed Metadata and taxonomy support to the Office Graph would be a tremendous enhancement and enable intelligence based on the "aboutness" of content and based on the topics for which people have expertise. The pieces are all in place - Microsoft just needs to connect a few of the dots together to unleash significant new value.

If signals are important, don't ignore the most valuable ones.

If you agree with this article, let Microsoft know!  Vote for this idea on the Office 365 user voice form and make your voice heard that you would like better Managed Metadata support in Delve.

https://office365.uservoice.com/forums/273487-delve/suggestions/17743489-delve-should-have-more-explicit-managed-metadata-s


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

WAND Fleet Management Taxonomy Now Available

Today we are releasing a brand new taxonomy designed specifically for businesses that also have fleet management needs: The WAND Fleet Management Taxonomy.

When you think of  "Fleets" all kinds of vehicles come to mind.  Usually, the first thing that's thought of is a long-haul fleet or a fleet of delivery vehicles.  But there are so many other vehicles that need to be managed in a fleet.

For instance, a construction company also manages their fleet of heavy equipment.  Backhoes can be as important as the truck that takes them from site to site.  So are aerial work platforms or bulldozers.  This taxonomy provides for those terms, much and more.

In this taxonomy of 341 categories and 179 synonyms are terms relating to all areas of Fleet Management including Vehicles and Heavy Equipment, Fleet Operations, Fleet Tracking Equipment, Reporting, Risk Management, Compliance, Vehicle Fleet Policies and Regulations, and U.S. Department of Transportation Regulations.

The WAND Fleet Management Taxonomy provides a strong foundation of terms and can be customized to include additional terms related to a specific type of Fleet.

As with all WAND Taxonomies, the WAND Fleet Management Taxonomy is available by itself or as part of the WAND Taxonomy Library Portal.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The WAND Wastewater Utilities Taxonomy is now Available

The WAND Wastewater Utilities Taxonomy is the fifth and final taxonomy in our Utilities Suite 

Wastewater Utilities have the essential task of collecting, treating and then disposing of domestic and industrial sewageTerms relating to the collection system, infrastructure, and treatment can be found in the WAND Wastewater Utilities Taxonomy.  

This foundation of 493 wastewater terms and 253 synonyms can be customized as well.



This taxonomy includes terms relating to Wastewater Sources, Wastewater Types, and Wastewater Pollutants.  Other top level terms include Design and Installation, Maintenance and Repairs, Forms, Measurements, Wastewater Standards and Guidelines, Associations and Organizations, Wastewater Utilities Metrics.
Don't miss our recently released WAND Water Utilities Taxonomy  in the suite of Utilities Taxonomies.  It is the perfect companion taxonomy for any company that provides both Water and Wastewater Services to their customers.  

Both should be used in conjunction with the WAND Utilities Taxonomy.

For municipalities that also provide gas and electricity to their customers we have the WAND Gas Utilities Taxonomy and the WAND Electric Utilities Taxonomy to round out the Utilities Suite.

As with all WAND Taxonomies, the WAND Wastewater Utilities Taxonomy is available separately or as part of the WAND Taxonomy Library Portal.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The WAND Water Utilities Taxonomy - Next in the Utilities Suite

The next taxonomy in our Utilities Suite is the WAND Water Utilities Taxonomy.

Water utilities provide one of the more important requirements in our daily life - clean, safe, reliable water.  To achieve that, there are many steps and processes involved from the source to the tap. 

In the new WAND Water Utilities Taxonomy there is a foundation of 583 terms and 276 synonyms related to that process - beginning at the water source, moving through the utility infrastructure, and ending with clean, deliverable water. 

This taxonomy also includes terms relating to Water Systems, Water Distribution, and Water Quality, Water Utility Metrics, Water Resource Management, and Maintenance and ConstructionOther top level terms in the taxonomy are Associations and Organizations, Forms, and Standards and Guidelines.
Those terms can be customized to fit the needs of any Water Utility Company.
The WAND Water Utilities Taxonomy is designed to provide terms specific to water utility companies and should be used in conjunction with the WAND Utilities Taxonomy.  Also, watch for our soon-to-be released WAND Wastewater Utilities Taxonomy  in the suite of Utilities Taxonomies.   It will be the perfect companion taxonomy for any company that provides both water and wastewater services to their customers.

For municipalities that also provide gas and electricity to their customers we have the WAND Gas Utilities Taxonomy and the WAND Electric Utilities Taxonomy to round out the Utilities Suite.

As with all WAND Taxonomies, the WAND Water Utilities Taxonomy is available separately or as part of the WAND Taxonomy Library Portal.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

SharePoint Hybrid Taxonomy Essentials

Synchronizing taxonomies between on-premise SharePoint and SharePoint Online has been a challenge for hybrid SharePoint users.  The inability to seamlessly move taxonomies from the SharePoint Online term store to the SharePoint on-prem term Store, and vice-versa, has made it hard to enforce tagging with consistent term sets.  Or, companies that have invested in taxonomy in an on-premise environment have been limited in moving to SharePoint Online because of this lack of support.

Despite the challenges, it’s incredibly important that term sets remain synchronized so that all content throughout an enterprise is tagged consistently with the same taxonomy terms.  Until now, the only solution has been third party add-ons or complex database operations.

If you have encountered this challenge, there is some great news:  Hybrid Taxonomy will be a key feature release of SharePoint 2016 Feature Pack 1.  It will also be included for SharePoint 2013 in the September '16 Cumulative Update for SharePoint. The main Term Store will be the Managed Metadata Service in SharePoint Online. So, when developing an enterprise taxonomy model for your company, the development should take place in SharePoint online.  Changes made in the SharePoint 
Online term store will automatically syndicate down to the on-premise term store, including retaining the same GUID for each term.

Three key things to remember when implementing Hybrid Managed Metadata and Taxonomy

  1. Hybrid Taxonomy for SharePoint will make it easy to synchronize your taxonomy term sets so both on premise and in the cloud SharePoint content will be tagged consistently
  2. Term sets that are currently in SharePoint on-premise environments can be migrated to SharePoint Online using a one-time administrative PowerShell script.
  3. The source taxonomy will live in SharePoint online.  On premise term stores will each connect to the SharePoint Online term store to access the taxonomies.  Each on-premise term store can choose which groups to subscribe to and these groups will be synchronized using the new Taxonomy Group Replication Timer Job.  
  4. Any pinned or re-used terms in your on-premise term store will need to be disconnected and reconnected within SharePoint Online before getting started
  5. Local term sets can be created as necessary in your on-premise term stores
Here are some more resources from Microsoft on this feature:



If you have not yet used the Managed Metadata Service or built a taxonomy, WAND has a General Business Taxonomy available as a free download for SharePoint users.  The WAND General Business Taxonomy can be imported directly into the SharePoint term store and includes a basic set of terms for HR, Sales and Marketing, Legal, IT, and Accounting and Finance.   It’s a great way to being to play with the SharePoint Term Store.


If you need more detailed term sets, WAND has developed a complete library of taxonomies covering nearly every industry vertical and business function.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The WAND Gas Utilities Taxonomy - Next in the Utilities Suite

The next taxonomy in our Utilities Suite is the WAND Gas Utilities Taxonomy 

It is designed to provide terms specific to gas utility companies and should be used in conjunction with the WAND Utilities Taxonomy.

You may be familiar with our WAND Electric and Gas Utilities Taxonomy which has been a part of the WAND Taxonomy Library Portal for several years.  We decided that it was time to also create an expanded independent Utility Taxonomy and then follow that with individual taxonomies for the various utility providers.  We will keep the WAND Electric and Gas Utilities Taxonomy as a legacy taxonomy.


The new WAND Gas Utilities Taxonomy provides a foundation of 212 terms and 105 synonyms and can be customized to fit the needs of any Gas Utility Company.

This taxonomy includes terms relating Natural Gas Utilities Infrastructure, Pipeline Development, Maintenance and Repairs, and Metrics as well as Natural Gas Agreements and Contracts, Associations and Organizations, Forms and Applications, and FERC Natural Gas Markets.

The WAND Electric Utilities Taxonomy is also available for companies that provide both Gas and Electricity to their customers.
Watch for our soon-to-be released WAND Water Utilities Taxonomy and the WAND Wastewater Utilities Taxonomy in the suite of Utilities Taxonomies. 

As with all WAND Taxonomies, the WAND Gas Utilities Taxonomy is available by itself or as part of the WAND Taxonomy Library Portal.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The WAND Electric Utilities Taxonomy - Next in the Utilities Suite

The next taxonomy in our Utilities Suite is the WAND Electric Utilities Taxonomy 

It is designed to provide terms specific to Electric Companies and should be used in conjunction with the WAND Utilities Taxonomy.

You may be familiar with our WAND Electric and Gas Utilities Taxonomy which has been a part of the WAND Taxonomy Library Portal for several years.  We decided that it was time to also create an expanded independent Utility Taxonomy and then follow that with individual taxonomies for the various utility providers.  We will keep the WAND Electric and Gas Utilities Taxonomy as a legacy taxonomy.


The new WAND Electric Utilities Taxonomy provides a foundation of 698 terms and 270 synonyms and can be customized to fit the needs of any Electric Utility Company.

This taxonomy includes terms relating to Demand Side Management, Electric Associations and Organizations, Electric Utilities Standards and Guidelines, Electric Utility Infrastructure, Electric Utility Metrics, Electricity Generation, Electricity Rates, Electricity Transmission and Distribution, and Forms.
Watch for our soon-to-be released  WAND Gas Utilities Taxonomy, WAND Water Utilities Taxonomy and the WAND Wastewater Utilities Taxonomy in the suite of Utilities Taxonomies. 

As with all WAND Taxonomies, the WAND Utilities Taxonomy is available by itself or as part of the WAND Taxonomy Library Portal.