Monday, September 20, 2010

Taxonomies in Sharepoint 2010

I came across a report by AIIM about how companies are using Sharepoint 2010. AIIM Sharepoint - Strategies and Experiences can be downloaded for free - registration required. AIIM surveyed 372 companies who are using or implementing Sharepoint 2010 now to get a sense of their priorities and needs. As it relates to taxonomy, here are a few interesting items that I'd like to highlight:

From page 19 of the report:

Which of the following types of add-on package or system are you using/are you planning to use with your SharePoint implementation?

52% responded "Classification/taxonomy management" About 12% are using a third party add-on for Classification/taxonomy management now.

This is consistent with what WAND is seeing in the market as well. The Term Store feature has certainly driven interest and demand in taxonomies for organizing enterprise content. Many companies are looking for a way to more effectively tag documents with meta-data once they are checked-in to Sharepoint. Sharepoint 2010 does not provide any automated tagging capabilities out of the box - although manual tagging is available.  Employees should be paid to create content, not meta-data. I think this AIIM survey question reflects this need.

From Page 18 of the report:

What do you think will be the two biggest issues for you in upgrading to SharePoint 2010?

30% replied: "Standardizing on a taxonomy or metadata template" . This was the number two most chosen answer.

By providing the capability to import a taxonomy or vocabulary with the term store, Microsoft has implicitly raised the question of whether or not a company has an existing vocabulary, and if not, where can one start. Many companies struggle when starting from a blank slate and the projects can get bogged down in committee. The survey result reflects this reality - we see Sharepoint 2010 projects getting delayed for months while companies establish a corporate vocabulary. This is an expensive proposition.

WAND's off the shelf sharepoint taxonomies are a source of foundation taxonomies which can be customized to meet the needs of a specific organization. There is no need to start from scratch - a pre-built taxonomy provides instant ROI because the vocabulary can be placed into Sharepoint 2010 to get started without any delays. The taxonomy can then be customized and fine-tuned over time to continue to improve results.

From Page 17 of the report:

Which of the following information management issues have you experienced with your SharePoint implementation?

24% replied "No way to enforce a classification template/policy for new team sites"

This survey reply merely re-emphasizes the point above that employees should be paid to create content, not meta-data. The reality is that getting knowledge workers in large organizations (or even small and medium organizations) to consistently apply meta-data to documents is a losing battle. One of two things will occur: Either, employees will ignore the requirement and not add any meta-data to their documents, or 2) employees will append meta-data but it will be high level tags that they are familiar with - granular tags will be ignored. Either way, you will lose the benefit of a corporate vocabulary.

Thanks to AIIM for publishing this terrific report.