Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The WAND Manufacturing Taxonomy has been expanded!

The WAND Manufacturing Taxonomy has been expanded.  It provides a foundation of 1,170 terms and 371 synonyms and can be customized to include specific terms to meet the document management needs of any manufacturing company. 

In this expansion we've added to several areas. The Manufacturing Planning section has been changed to include Scheduling.  Manufacturing Production now incorporates Methods, Strategies, Production Processes, Production Control, and more.  Manufacturing Safety has also been expanded.

We have added both Documents and Records as well as Guidelines and Regulations as top level terms.

Manufacturing Processes is a new top level term.  It includes Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, and Additive Manufacturing.

Discrete Manufacturing covers Bill of Materials and Process Manufacturing contains Formulations and Ingredients.  Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) incorporates terms relating to Additive Manufacturing Techniques, Scanning, Process Types, and Materials - both Filaments and Powder Additives.

To focus on specific areas of manufacturing we will soon be releasing several new taxonomies to complement our WAND Manufacturing Taxonomy.  The first of these will be the new WAND Food and Beverage Manufacturing Taxonomy and the WAND Packaging Taxonomy.
As with all WAND Taxonomies, the WAND Manufacturing Taxonomy is available by itself or as part of the WAND Taxonomy Library Portal.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Why the SharePoint Managed Metadata Service and Term Store should be standalone Office Applications.

Microsoft has been progressive in supporting taxonomy and metadata in SharePoint.  The Managed Metadata Service was first released as part of SharePoint 2010 and was a dramatic improvement over existing metadata capabilities.  For the first time, companies could deploy defined hierarchies of terms with which to tag, filter, and search content.  Today, the Managed Metadata Service continues as part of SharePoint 2013, SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint Online. Taxonomy and structured metadata add tremendous value in many Microsoft applications including SharePoint, OneDrive, Delve, Microsoft Teams, Yammer, and Flow.

(See earlier blog posts "Taxonomy: The Missing Signal in Microsoft Delve" and "Why Microsoft Teams Must include support for Managed Metadata and Taxonomy").

Has the time come where Managed Metadata has outgrown SharePoint?  I'd say yes - it's time for Microsoft to break out the Managed Metadata Service and make it a standalone Office application.

A standalone Managed Metadata Service would enable powerful features across the Office Suite 


Separating the Managed Metadata Service from SharePoint would increase the prominence of metadata and taxonomy and make it clear how important metadata is for organizing enterprise information.   Separating it would also open the door to do specific metadata integrations with other applications besides SharePoint.

Office 365 is an ecosystem of valuable productivity and collaboration applications.  Managed Metadata and taxonomy can be a common thread woven throughout the ecosystem.

For example, an Excel drop down list could be powered by a Term Set in the standalone Managed Metadata Service.  This would allow for consistent pick lists across various sheets (and values picked from this list could be leveraged as a signal in Delve - see earlier post with my suggestions for that)

Many WAND customers who are developing an enterprise taxonomy are worried about how they will enforce tagging.  Currently the choice is between just manual tagging upon check-in and investing in a third party automatic tagging engine.  There is a middle way, I believe.   The middle way is a tag suggest feature - I'll call it "Intelligent Tag Suggest".   A user creating a Word document could type a term in the body of the document that also appears in the Term Store.  Word could then prompt the user that this occurred and ask them if they would like to tag the document with the term.   Term descriptions and alternate descriptions could be used to power this "Intelligent Tag Suggest" feature, and the Term Store could be enhanced to allow softer clue terms to be added to each taxonomy concept.  "Suggest as Tag" could be a configurable option for each Term Set or each individual term.

Microsoft is starting to recreate taxonomy management capabilities elsewhere.


Last year, Microsoft released the Azure Data Catalog to general availability.  Azure Data Catalog  has a Business Glossary feature which replicates many of the features of the Term Store (Read more about Azure Data Catalog at  https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/data-catalog/data-catalog-how-to-business-glossary).

A single Microsoft application that could manage vocabularies across applications makes more sense and would encourage the appropriate re-use of vocabularies across an organization.

Expand the capabilities of the Term Store to make it a more complete taxonomy solution


A few basic features I would advocate for a standalone Term Store would include:

  1. Add support for relationship types between concepts besides Broader Term/Narrower Term   
  2. Ontology and taxonomy auditing and governance features - expand the foundation in place with Term Groups.
  3. Connections where appropriate to individual Office applications and settings to support taxonomy within those applications. 
  4. Improved import and export support, including support for common XML formats, advanced relationship types, and synonyms.
  5. Metadata Graph: help admins visualize where various concepts and terms sets from the term store are used across the enterprise.  This is something that could be added just in SharePoint to add a huge amount of value and help admins map out their metadata models.

A standalone Managed Metadata Service would be a strategic advantage for Microsoft


Besides adding tremendous value to users, a standalone term store with more robust taxonomy and ontology management capabilities would be a huge strategic differentiation and put Microsoft in the driver's seat for expanding its footprint within existing clients.  Simply put, taxonomy is a foundation component to a wide variety of enterprise applications.

Taxonomy is sticky.  The more deeply taxonomy and Managed Metadata is integrated within the complete Office Suite, the more entrenched Microsoft will be inside an organization.  There is no other enterprise software provider with the level of support for taxonomy that Microsoft already has in SharePoint.  Companies which have invested in taxonomy won't readily be able to duplicate this if they try to migrate out of Office 365.  Any other metadata fields can generally be handled elsewhere but Managed Metadata cannot easily be migrated.

Taxonomy support can and should extend outside of the core Office suite of applications.  Business intelligence, big data analytics, search, and ERP applications (Accounting - account ledger categories; Procurement - spend analysis categories and buyer catalog), data catalogs, etc all significantly benefit from taxonomy.   With a standalone Managed Metadata Service, users would naturally come to Microsoft's suite of applications because taxonomy would be ready to go.  Internal Microsoft development across its suite would no longer need to re-build the wheel and could simply hook into the standalone Managed Metadata Service for each application.

Microsoft should devote resources to adding features to the term store to transform it from a taxonomy management environment to a complete taxonomy and ontology management tool. This investment would drive metadata and tagging throughout and beyond the Office Suite and would facilitate taxonomy re-use for Microsoft's clients.    

If you agree, please vote on Microsoft User Voice to let Microsoft know that you think this is an important idea. 

Vote at https://office365.uservoice.com/forums/264636-general/suggestions/18691123-the-sharepoint-term-store-should-be-a-standalone-o

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Five Reasons Why Taxonomy Should be Part of your SharePoint Migration

If you are planning a SharePoint migration, this is the perfect time to implement Managed Metadata and Taxonomy and begin to tag your content.  If your organization does not currently leverage taxonomy in SharePoint, and you are not planning to add it as part of your migration, you are missing an opportunity. Here are five key reasons why:

  1. Keep things neat and tidy.  SharePoint can get messy and cluttered over time. I hear all the time that an objective of the migration is to "Get it right this time."  SharePoint migrations are a natural time for enterprises to cull content and decide which documents to bring into the new environment and to put extra thought and effort into how content will be organized and found.   It's kind of like moving houses.  You are more likely to throw things away and make sure everything is nicely organized at your new house than you are to clean up that old storage room in your old house.  Take advantage and make sure taxonomy is included.
  2. Satisfy users.  Users have expectations of an improved experience when a new version of software is deployed.  Adding taxonomy will be an attention grabbing new feature that will make it easier to find content.  With taxonomy, you can deploy features like metadata based refiners on search result pages, pages which display relevant content dynamically based upon metadata tags, and intelligent filtering within document libraries and lists.  Content will be easier to find and your users will have a great experience with the new SharePoint version.  That's the benefit.  The risk of not doing this is the migration gets launched and users are still frustrated with their ability to organize and find content and the project is seen as a failure.  WAND's client, Goodwill Industries International, invested in an improved taxonomy when migrating to SharePoint for its new intranet and the new taxonomy was one of the reasons it was named a Top Ten Intranet by the Nielsen Norman Group.  See the press release here: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/wand-inc-client-goodwill-awarded-nielsen-norman-group-recognition-300404209.html
  3. Strike while the iron is hot.    The benefits of taxonomy are clear; however, once a migration is over, there may be general fatigue to re-opening the project and adding something new.  There is a risk that it will be perceived as trying to fix something that just didn't work.  Migrations are the perfect time to identify and implement the most important features. The road map, and budgets, are both open.   Make sure taxonomy is on the list.
  4. Leverage new features. Metadata is increasingly important in each new version of SharePoint. From SharePoint 2010 when the Managed Metadata Service and the Term Store was first introduced, metadata has become more valuable with each subsequent release.  Here is a high-level overview of the key features.
    • SharePoint 2010 Taxonomy Features
      • This is the first version of SharePoint to have the Managed Metadata Service and the Term Store, a powerful feature which allowed for management of hierarchical taxonomies with synonyms.  Taxonomies managed in the Term Store could, for the first time, be assigned to managed metadata columns associated with document libraries, content types, lists, or deployed site-wide.  This was a dramatic leap forward in the ability of SharePoint users to organize content with metadata (good) instead of folder structures (bad).
      • SharePoint Managed Metadata could be enabled as a refiner in the SharePoint Search
    • SharePoint 2013 Taxonomy Features
      • Managed Navigation was a new feature of the term store in SharePoint 2013.  It allows for the site structure and navigation to be driven by a taxonomy in the Term Store instead of needing to worry about the physical structure of the site.    Pages driven by Managed Navigation get search friendly URLs and can easily be moved simply by adjusting the taxonomy in the Term Store.
      • The Content Search Web Part was released with SharePoint 2013. This allows for content in any site collection to be dynamically displayed on a SharePoint page based upon metadata tags.  This is a powerful way to create content rich pages in SharePoint without worrying about where the content is stored.   The power of this web part can only truly be unlocked if a taxonomy is in place.  The Content Search Web Part can be used in conjunction with Managed Navigation to create pages and populate pages with relevant content completely dynamically based upon navigation term sets and well-tagged content. 
      • The FAST search engine became the default search engine in SharePoint 2013.  This search engine was significantly more powerful than previous SharePoint search and took even greater advantage of taxonomy metadata (enabling the Content Search Web Part, for example).  More explicit refiner support was introduced with the ability to provide accurate filter counts.
    • SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint Online Taxonomy Features
      • The New Modern Document Library Experience in SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint Online has several important taxonomy and metadata features:
        • Metadata can now be updated directly in-line instead of needing to open up the edit properties window for a document.  This is significantly easier for users and encourages tagging
        • Drag and Drop metadata. Content can be dragged and dropped to tag with taxonomy terms. Again, this is another simple user interface enhancement which makes it dramatically easier - and dare I say fun - to tag.
        • Hybrid Taxonomy Scenario. It's now easy to maintain the same taxonomy across your on-premise and in-cloud SharePoint environments.  Your taxonomy can be managed in SharePoint Online and then consumed by your on-premise Term Store.  Previously, synchronizing taxonomy between hybrid term stores was difficult.  That problem is now solved. 
  5. Future-proof SharePoint and your content.   New feature and applications, such as Delve and Microsoft Teams, continue to be released for SharePoint and the complete Office Suite.  My strong opinion is that these features will benefit from well tagged content and from an enterprise taxonomy.   (Read my earlier articles about this here: The Missing Signal in Microsoft Delve and Why Microsoft Teams Should Integrate Managed Metadata).   If you have a taxonomy in SharePoint, you'll be ready as these features are released.   There is basically never a scenario where you won't be better off with well-tagged content.
  6. Bonus Reason #6: It's simpler than ever to create taxonomy.  Organizations often want to deploy taxonomy but get frustrated by the challenge of building from scratch. The taxonomy project gets kicked down the road so the overall project isn't delayed. That's no longer an excuse.  The WAND Taxonomy Library Portal gives access to pre-built taxonomies covering every industry vertical segment and business functional areas.  Taxonomies can be downloaded in SharePoint Term Store import format and customized specifically for your organization.   It's an easy way to bring a high quality taxonomy into SharePoint

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Major WAND Information Technology Taxonomy Update

As we've said before, the Information Technology industry is constantly changing and growing and, of course, the WAND Information Technology Taxonomy must grow and change as well. 

The WAND Information Technology Taxonomy has undergone an update.  We've added IT Security as a Top Level Term and expanded Technologies and Fields to include Artificial Intelligence, Digital Mesh, Emerging Data Storage Technologies, Internet of Things and more.

Data concepts include modeling, analyzing, and visualizing data. Basically, data is a
key ingredient in most information technology environments and we wanted to be sure that Data was well reflected in our taxonomy.

Just as Data is important in IT, so is the front end design - Computer Graphics and Web Design covers GUI and front end related topics.   Finally, all of these ingredients of IT applications are used in various fields or applications.

Development also underwent a major expansion in Applications, Development Tools, Languages, Operating Systems versions, Protocols and the areas in Software Development.

The WAND Information Technology Taxonomy still includes terms in the areas of IT Administration, IT Certifications, Development, Service Providers, and Software Programs and Applications and each of these branches were updated in this revision.

This taxonomy now has 6,772 terms and 1,337 synonyms.  

The WAND Information Technology Taxonomy can be customized to include specific terms to meet the needs of any Information Technology Department.

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

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Why Microsoft Teams Should Include Support for SharePoint Managed Metadata and Taxonomy

Microsoft Teams is a new Office 365 group chat application with strong integration to other Office applications.    Teams allows Channels to form around a project/topic and for members to contribute to channels via chat.  Office documents - not just Word - can be brought into Teams and edited by the team members within the application, including integrations with One Drive, SharePoint, and Delve.

With all of these integrations, Microsoft Teams is missing a big opportunity by not integrating managed metadata and taxonomy support.  Tagging, again, is a critical way to describe the aboutness, or subject, of a channel, team, or piece of content.

Integration of metadata into Microsoft Teams simply makes sense holistically for Office 365 - without it, things get a little incongruous.

In SharePoint, a library can be created and custom managed metadata columns can be setup in those libraries (or to content types).  The same library can be added as a tab in Microsoft Teams. In Teams, the metadata is nowhere to be found.   Not only is this a missed opportunity to add value to users, but it also creates a hole in the content management process. Content added in SharePoint can be tagged. There are several interfaces to do the tagging and, in fact, these capabilities have recently been expanded with the SharePoint Document Library New Experience.  One Drive also supports Managed Metadata columns and content added there can be tagged with terms from the term store. In contrast, content added to the library within Microsoft Teams can not be tagged at all.  The same capability to tag content should exist regardless of where content is created or uploaded!


No Managed Metadata Column In Microsoft Teams

Teams has a search interface, but the only filter options are "Team Name", "File Type", and "Modified By".  Adding metadata to the mix would be a natural - and extremely useful - filter for users.

Teams would strongly benefit from the ability of users to set up Channels named with (or tagged by) Managed Metadata terms. This could help automatically populate channels with content already tagged with the same term in SharePoint.

Meetings could be tagged by topic.  Chat conversations could have hashtags which could optionally be populated with suggested tags.  

Any Teams content (Channels/Team Names/Meetings/Chats) could potentially be shown in a side-bar in SharePoint when somebody was looking at content tagged accordingly in SharePoint.  

As a note, this post focused on tagging, findability, and integration with SharePoint; if Microsoft were to integrate Managed Metadata and taxonomy support into Delve and the Office Graph,(As I argue for in a previous article), the integration of taxonomy and managed metadata into Teams would generate significant additional signals which Delve could use to suggest content and relationships.

Office 365 is an ecosystem of valuable productivity and collaboration applications.  Microsoft should be leveraging Managed Metadata as a common thread woven throughout, including in Microsoft Teams.



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.