Thursday, August 16, 2012

WAND Spend Classification

With decades of experience in creating taxonomies and classifying information, WAND has recently turned our attention to spend analysis with some exciting results.

We've partnered with a few of the leading spend management and strategic sourcing consulting firms to classify billions of spend into specific WAND Product and Service Taxonomy categories.  The output is then delivered back to our spend consultant partners who present the complete analysis back to clients. 

The WAND Product and Service Taxonomy, which we've developed over the last 20 years, allows us to do an efficient and highly accurate spend classificaiton process with an output that is clear and easy to present to the customer. It is a true competitive advantage to the process.  Further, compared to UNSPSC, which can sometimes be confusing, the WAND Taxonomy categories are easy to understand and the spend analysis can be clearly presented to the client. (If data needs to be classified to UNSPSC, we can always map our categories over, providing an extra degree of flexibility).

WAND's process classifies and normalizes spend line item descriptions as well as vendors.

Spend classification is a key initial step to any strategic sourcing or spend managmenet project because it provides an initial baseline and visibility of how a company is spending its money now and helps identify opportunities to save money.   An accurate spend analysis provides a strong foundation to truly get spend under control. 

WAND has completed several large spend classification projects including for a major auto manufacturer, a national fast casual chain, and also for a customer analyzing millions of rows of consumer spend.

Contact me if you have a spend classification project, I'd be happy to walk you through our process and see how WAND can help.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Taxonomy for SharePoint 2010

I like to remind people from time to time that WAND has made its General Business Taxonomy available as a free download for users of SharePoint 2010.   The WAND General Business Taxonomy is designed as a starter set of terminology that should be relevant to nearly any business organization.

WAND General Business Taxonomy
WAND partnered with Microsoft's SharePoint team to make this taxonomy avialable because while there is a huge amount of interest in taxonomy and the SharePoint 2010 term store, most companies don't know where to start.   This taxonomy can easily be imported into the term store so that users begin to try out the managed metadata service and begin to see the benefits that taxonomy brings to document organization in SharePoint.     Take a look at the blog post from Microsoft talking about the Download

If you are looking for taxonomy covering other topics, WAND's Taxonomy Library for SharePoint is extensive.

WAND also has professional services to help you customize taxonomies or to create taxonomies from scratch.

We are happy to help with any of your taxonomy needs in SharePoint and we have years of expertise.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Facts about document organization and search - the Paperless Project

I recently came across an initiative called The Paperless Project.  The name is self-explanatory, but the initiative is driven by companies who want to help organizations improve content and document management and move enterprise information to electronic formats.

The Paperless Project has a page on its website with some facts about paper use in the U.S. and worldwide. ( Some of the interesting facts as it relates to taxonomies and document tagging with some of my comments about why this makes taxonomies critical to information management.

Fact:  Almost 80% of today's information is still paper based

Why Taxonomy is Critical:   This is certain to decrease over time as our society becomes increasingly digital. Of course, that is the goal of the Paperless Project.  Interesting for taxonomy because as more information becomes digital (scanning this paper information, for example), taxonomies become critical to ensure that digital versions can be found.

Fact:  U.S. managers spend an average of 4 weeks a year searching for or waiting on misfiled, mislabelled, untracked, or ‘lost’ papers".  Each misfiled document costs $125.

Why Taxonomy is Critical:   Not being able to find information is costly. This is true of physical information and it is also true of digital information.   Placing your corporate documents into a messy shared drive with confusing nested folders or just throwing them into a disorganized SharePoint Library is expensive.  Taxonomies your digital file structure.  Organize and tag electronic documents so that time spent searching is decreased.

Fact:  67% of data loss is directly related to user blunders, making them 30 times more menacing than viruses and the leading cause of data loss.

Why Taxonomy is Critical:  Users making blunders with paper documents will likely make blunders with electronic documents as well.  This is a strong argument for automating the document tagging process so that you can control how tags are applied to documents and make sure tagging occurs in a consistent fashion.  If you rely on users to manually tag, you will get incomplete, inconsistent, and inaccurate tagging.

Fact:  We are approaching 4 trillion documents being stored by businesses and government agencies.

Why Taxonomy is Critical:  Huge amounts of content require an organizational structure.  A single document out of thousands is a needle in a haystack and keyword based search has been insufficient.  Invest in a taxonomy that will scale to accommodate continued growth in electronic content.

Overall, the Paperless Project facts show that the expense of paper based information is substantial. Companies need to make this information digital. But simply making it digital does not necessarily solve the problem; instead, it may just shift the expenses.   Taxonomy and tagging is a critical component to making sure that making information digital truly leads to productivity benefits and cost savings for an organization.

WAND provides taxonomies off the shelf covering nearly every industry and business function as well as automatic tagging capabilities to jump start an electronic document organization initiative.   

Thanks to the Paperless Project for its great research.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

WAND Banking Taxonomy Now Available

Commercial Banking Taxonomy
I am pleased to announce the release of the WAND Retail Banking Taxonomy.  The WAND Retail Banking Taxonomy has 815 terms with 339 synonyms covering banking processes, retail banking,  regulations, products, fees, risk management, banking documents, and much more.

The financial services industry has been more proactive than most in adopting taxonomies due to complex compliance and retention requirements.   The WAND Finance and Investment Taxonomy was our first offering for this vertical, but that taxonomy does not have terms that would be useful for tagging internal bank documents.

The WAND Retail Banking Taxonomy is specifically designed to help banks tag and organize their unstructured information with relevant, industry specific concepts, processes, subjects, and document types.

Retail Banking Taxonomy
 WAND created this taxonomy leveraging experience helping create taxonomies for dozens of credit unions and financial institutions.  We took this knowledge as a base and built-on top of it to create a taxonomy that is a strong starter set for any commercial and retail banking institution.

The WAND Retail Bank Taxonomy can be integrated into any ECM software that can support taxonomy including SharePoint 2010, SharePoint online, Documentum, Oracle Webcenter, Drupal, wordpress, and more as well as automatic tagging solutions.

If you'd like a demo, please do let us know. You can reach me at mleher at wandinc dot com.

Monday, June 4, 2012

More on Taxonomies and Big Data

As a follow on to my post from last week about taxonomies and big data, I'm linking to an interesting blog post from Krish Krishnan, an expert in the data warehousing and business intelligence space.

Krish discusses how taxonomies work with big data:

"Taxonomies have long been used as catalog or index creation mechanisms in the world of metadata driven approach to data management and more so in the Web driven architecture where you need linked context behind the scenes. The very same taxonomy family can simply be used to create what we call word clouds or tags from content that is within Big Data. these tags can be used to create powerful linkages that will form a lineage and a graph."

Complete post here:

Friday, June 1, 2012

Big Unstructured Data and Taxonomy

Big Data.

Big Unstructured Data.

Big Unstructured Data Taxonomy?

Big Data seems to be the latest hot industry buzzword making its way through the technology world.   What does it really mean and how do taxonomies come into play to help manage Big Data (or Big Unstructured Data - BUD).

Content is being created at an unbelievable rate today.  A recent Independent Oracle Users Group study reported that one third of companies see annual data growth over 25% and nearly 10% of companies have more than a petabye (1000 Tereabytes) of data.   Big Data.

How does taxonomy fit in? 

Businesses need to evaluate strategies for organizing and understanding the huge amount of content that is created in their organization. If content is not organized in a way that you can get information out of it, then all it is doing is increasing your storage costs and bogging down your database.  A taxonomy is  a necessary ingredient to the solution.

A taxonomy model should be created for any business concerned about content overload so that existing and new incoming content can be appropriately tagged - not just for findability, but for workflows, data governance, records, and analytics.  Decisions can and must be informed by the data that is created and an appropriately deployed taxonomy is a way to help business users get at the actual information that is hiding in your Big Unstructured Data. 

To me, Big Data as a buzzword is still a loose concept.  A lot of people are talking about it, but most companies are just beginning to think about how to approach it.   As things tighten up and crystallize, I expect taxonomy to get more and more attention. And, WAND will be paying close attention and an active participant to help our customers solve these challenges.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Google Knowledge Graph, Taxonomies, and you.

Google has just released a new search experience for their end users called the Google Knowledge Graph. Knowledge Graph takes advantage of relationships between entities that it has deduced (either explicitly with a taxonomy or benefiting from its large volume of search history and click behavior) to present more relevant search results to users. So, a search for Leonardo Da Vinci will return a right hand panel with links to works by Da Vinci, birth/death date, Wikipedia description etc. The idea is to get you to an answer more quickly. A search for the Denver Broncos will surface information about the roster, head coach, mascot, etc.

In my initial surface testing, it works well for proper nouns (city names, people, teams, movies, books) but for searches like "Taxonomy" there are no Knowledge Graph results, just the normal search listings. I'm sure this will get more robust over time

The main value seems to be that Google is pulling relevant information about a topic that somebody has searched for and making it explicit to the end user as well as providing some additional search result filters or other suggested searches.

This is relevant to enterprise search because Google is setting the bar for how people expect their search experience to operate. I've spoken to many information architects who are trying to provide their users with an easy to use Google style search, because that is what the users are asking for. What users don't often realize is that a google style search doesn't necessarily work very well inside the enterprise; the concept of using links to establish relevance of a website doesn't work to establish relevance of a document because documents are not linked together. However, the concept of tagging documents with relevant business metadata and surfacing those tags as refinement and browsing options to enhance a keyword style search works very well inside of an enterprise. This is where taxonomy comes in.

Google Knowledge Graph is going to train users to expect the type of enterprise search experience that only a good, relevant taxonomy and tagging strategy can make possible. Whereas Google Knowledge Graph is using a robust ontology of all topics to surface such information, an enterprise just needs a good taxonomy (or taxonomies) of topics important to their business. It's a very achievable task (particularly if you have a good taxonomy to start with).

Google has just helped educate the masses - taxonomy is about to get big.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

WAND Building and Construction Management Taxonomy

WAND has always had a Building and Construction Taxonomy that covered equipment, supplies, and services. But, managing construction involves much more than just equipment and services.

Today, we are proud to announce that we are releasing a comprehensive WAND Building and Construction Management Taxonomy that goes beyond equipment and supplies and covers construction documents, construction management, heath and safety, project types, compliance, financing, planning, and more. 

This taxonomy is designed specifically to tag and organize all types of documents associated with a construction project and is ideal for any construction management organization. 

All in all, the new WAND Building and Construction Taxonomy has over 3,200 terms and over 700 synonyms.

The WAND Building and Construction taxonomy is available standalone or as part of the WAND Taxonomy Library Portal

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Free General Business Taxonomy for SharePoint 2010

Do you have a SharePoint 2010 project and wondering how to get started with managed metadata?

WAND, as announced in March 2011 on the Microsoft SharePoint Team Blog, provides a free general business taxonomy for users of SharePoint 2010 or SharePoint Online.  Download it here and instantly get started with taxonomy content in your term store to begin to tag documents today:

The General Business Taxonomy covers human resources, IT, Legal, Accounting and Finance, and sales and marketing.   It is designed to provide high level terminology of each of these areas that is ready to be customized with terms specific to your organization.  Thousands of companies have downloaded this taxonomy to help launch a managed metadata and tagging initiative in SharePoint 2010.

If you're looking for taxonomies on other topics, WAND has a selection of other taxonomies available for license covering most major industry segments as well taxonomies that any business can use such as records retention and project management. A list of taxonomies available is at:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

WAND is going back to school: Announcing the WAND Higher Education Taxonomy

WAND Higher Education Taxonomy
I'm pleased to announce another new addition to our taxonomy library designed specifically for the higher education market.  The WAND Higher Education Taxonomy has 959 categories and 233 synonyms covering topics of importance to a college or university.  The taxonomy covers academics, university administration, admissions, athletics, campus transportation, facilities, student services, faculty relations, and more.     This taxonomy can jump start a taxonomy or metadata initiative for a college or university.

WAND Higher Education Taxonomy
Institutes of higher education are complex organizations with a lot of functions outside of simply academics.  The WAND Higher Education Taxonomy reflects this complexity and is ideally suited as a metadata model for unstructured information at a university.   Using a pre-built taxonomy can save a huge amount of time and frustration versus building one from scratch.

Find out why you should not start a document management initiative without a taxonomy

If you are a college or university with a SharePoint 2010 project, you should definitely look at this taxonomy to populate the term store and get going on tagging documents.  And, this taxonomy can add value to any software application which supports taxonomy.

Contact WAND if you'd like to see a demo of this taxonomy at mleher at

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

WAND Taxonomies and WAND DataFacet Automatic Tagging on Microsoft Pinpoint

Solution pages for WAND Taxonomies and for the DataFacet Automatic Tagging Engine are now up on Microsoft Pinpoint:

DataFacet Automatic Tagging Engine on Microsoft PinPoint:

WAND Taxonomies on Microsoft PinPoint:

Pre-built taxonomies and automatic tagging are powerful add-ons for Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint online.  Read why you should not start a SharePoint 2010 project without taxonomy.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

WAND Project Management Taxonomy now available

Many companies are running project management documents in their ECM or document management system, including SharePoint 2010.  Just like any other documents, these need to be tagged with relevant metadata so that project managers can have effective search, stay organized, and stay productive.  WAND has created a taxonomy just for this purpose.

Project Management Taxonomy
The WAND Project Management Taxonomy contains 135 categories with 63 synonyms covering project initiation, planning and design, execution and construction, monitoring and control, and completion.

These terms include all of the important documents that are created in the course of managing a project.  By tagging documents with this project management vocabulary as they are checked into a document management system, they can easily be found later.

Combine these with a taxonomy of project names, and multiple sets of project management documents can be stored in the same place and easily be navigated by document type and project name.

Want to automatically tag project management documents? Click the link to find out how.

Monday, January 30, 2012

6 reasons why you need a taxonomy for your SharePoint 2010 initiative

Managed Metadata is the most important feature you can know about if you have a SharePoint 2010 document management project.  You should not do a SharePoint 2010 ECM project without taxonomy and managed metadata.    Here are six reasons why:

1) Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it: Enterprise content management projects often fail due to poor search.

Taxonomy based search filtering in SharePoint Enterprise Search
(with DataFacet Webpart)
What is failure for an ECM project? Essentially, it comes down to user satisfaction. I hear again and again that search of enterprise documents, either in SharePoint, shared folders, or another system, does not work, users are frustrated, and they can't effectively use the system that was set up.  Documents end up anywhere and everywhere and nobody can find anything. 

A big reason for this is that most documents don't have appropriate metadata.  When I say appropriate metadata, I don't mean things like date and author and document type. These elements are automatically added to all documents and I call them "flag metadata".  The metadata that is missing is what I call "subject metadata". Subject metadata should give somebody a hint about what the document is actually about.  For a business, this could be a customer name, an internal process, or a department, just to name a few.

Taxonomy and managed metadata can go a long way towards fixing these issues.  Appropriately tagged documents add a lot of value to what a search engine (including SharePoint Enterprise Search, FAST, and others) can accomplish.  Imagine how much more effective and intuitive keyword search can be if you are providing your users with relevant left hand navigation filters which can take them from thousands of results down to the handful of documents that match their parameters.  Taxonomy is a common set of terms that users can select fromas subject metadata.

It simply makes a big difference.  Your users will notice. 

2) A common language, which a taxonomy provides, connects your users with relevant information and with each other.

If you buy into the first item above about the need for good subject metadata, the next question may be why users can't just tag documents with any keywords they want, in effect using a folksonomy approach, instead of implementing a top down vocabulary.   This would be a simpler approach and would avoid the process of creating a taxonomy and the governance that is attached to that process. But, don't forget, simple is what got many intranets and ECM systems into a mess to begin with.
Free text keyword tagging is a nice supplement to a taxonomy, but by itself can cause a lot of problems. 

  • End users tagging will results in a lot of variations of the same term - abbreviations, misspellings, and other variants.  One user may tag documents with "H.R.", while another user may use "Human Resources", while a third may use "Human Capital". The problem is that a user searching would never be able to find all of the documents tagged to each variant.  Managed MetaData and Taxonomies allow you to create a preferred name for the concept and associate the rest as synonyms, solving this problem.

  • If you rely on free text keyword entry, end users won't have any guidance as to what they should tag a document with. If you had three different end users tag the same document, you would get three different set of tags.  With managed metadata, you can assign different term sets/taxonomies as potential valid values to any of your columns.  That way, you can assure that the metadata columns you set up get populated with the correct values. 
Spending the time to set up taxonomies ensures that your entire organization will be tagging documents to the same controlled set of terms.   Users searching for these terms will find the complete set of documents which have been tagged to the concept. 

A common, controlled vocabulary will also enhance the SharePoint My Sites news feed experience.  Users can easily subscribe to terms from the taxonomy and when new documents are tagged to those terms, they will show up in the users news feed. Users can also profile themselves so that other users can find people who share their interests.   If you don't have a taxonomy, users won't be speaking the same language and won't be able to effectively communicate.

Keywords don't have to be abandoned entirely. In SharePoint 2010, user entered keywords show up in the term store as "managed keywords". This is a terrific source of terms for your taxonomy manager to review on a regular basis. These managed keywords may contain valuable synonyms or even new terms which should be added to your controlled taxonomy. 

3) Synonyms, Synonyms, Synonyms.

I already have covered this topic a little bit in this post but synonyms are so important that it is worth mentioning again. Synonyms are a huge part of the value of taxonomies in enterprise content management and adding synonyms to your taxonomy will have tangible benefits for search and tagging.

Simply put, there may be multiple ways to say the same concept inside of a company - abbreviations, misspellings, acronyms, and just different terminology all may be used.  Normalizing and associating all variations to each other instantly brings together separate groups of documents that may have all been tagged to different variations.  Let's look at a simple made-up example. I want to search for documents about Human Resources. In the first case, synonyms and taxonomy are not used. I do a search for:

 "Human Resources"  - 10 results
"H.R." - 15 results
"HR" - 20 results
"Human Capital Management" - 3 results.

Now, with a taxonomy in place, each of these variations can be associated as synonyms.  A single search for Human Resources would bring back all 48 documents that required four searches to find before.  And, let's be frank, users will never do all four searches so they will always be missing a piece of the puzzle.

Don't underestimate the value of synonyms in your taxonomy.

4) Using folders to organize documents is not scalable and does not work.

One of the most common goals that I hear from people working on a SharePoint 2010 project is that they would like to move away from using folders for document organizations, either in SharePoint 2010 itself or in a shared drive.  I have seen some seriously awful shared drives and that really is more the rule than an exception.   The problem with nested folders is that they quickly become confusing and unwieldy to navigate.   Silos and fiefdoms get created where it becomes difficult for one user to understand how another user has set up the organizing structure.  The other major problem with folders is that a document can only be placed in a single location.  This is problematic because a document may be relevant to two different folders. For example a document which is an RFP for client A should be placed in a folder for Client A and a folder for RFPs. But, it cannot exist in both places, realistically.

Managed metadata solves this problem because what used to be folder names simply become tags that can be applied to document. The Client A RFP can now be tagged with both "Client A" and with "RFPs" and any other user can find the document using those tags, regardless of where that document actually is saved.   

Managed metadata is just a simpler, but more elegant, approach to document organization and it's much easier for the end user.

5) Taxonomies make automatic metadata tagging methods more effective and accurate than ever before.

Automatic tagging of metadata is an important feature because one nearly universal fact about end users/content creators/knowledge workers is that they do not like to tag documents with metadata, probably won't tag documents at all, and if required, don't tag documents correctly or consistently.  We hear this complaint again and again.

Search engines and content management systems have tried to resolve this problem using automatic methods such as statistical keyword relevance and dynamic clustering.  These approaches are okay, but what the computer finds statistically relevant is not always what a human being may think is important.

With a taxonomy, the computer has some guidance as to what terms and concepts are important to the business and to help the end user search documents more effectively.  Synonyms within the taxonomy can also be used to create some initial automatic tagging rules that can be instantly applied to documents.  Those rules can be refined over time to incrementally improve the performance of the automatic tagging engine.

Automatically tagging documents in SharePoint can ensure that a taxonomy and managed metadata project in SharePoint 2010 is a success. An automatic tagging approach ensures that all legacy documents are tagged to the taxonomy metadata model that you create.  Without this, manually tagging documents may need to occur for 8-9 months before a critical mass of tags is reached to add real value to search.  Also, automatic tagging applies tags in a consistent fashion across your document and removes the burden of tagging from your end users.

With the availability of automatic tagging add-ons a major excuse/barrier to deploying a taxonomy is eliminated.  The value that an automatic tagging approach can add is tremendous and the payback period is quick.

6) Starting a taxonomy project is faster and easier than ever before
Creating a taxonomy is not an easy task. Many organizations have started taxonomy projects that ended in failure.  Putting committees together to create a corporate vocabulary resulted in in-fighting and inflamed internal politics, but did not result in a usable taxonomy.  Most companies don't have a library scientist or taxonomist on staff to guide the process.

Things have changed. WAND has more pre-built taxonomies available for SharePoint 2010 than ever before and our library is expanding on a regular basis. Taxonomies for industries like Mining, Oil and Gas, Real Estate, Public Utilities, Legal, Manufacturing, Insurance, and Finance and for topics like Information Technology, Records Retention, Skills, Project Management, and more are now available.  Starting with a pre-built foundation taxonomy is a huge advantage over starting from scratch.  It speeds up the project dramatically and it gives your business users, whose input is crucial, something tangible to look at and respond to.  This totally changes the conversation that you have and makes the time with business end users much more valuable.

WAND also has professional services available to help you customize a taxonomy or create a new one from scratch. Our consultants have specific expertise in taxonomies for SharePoint 2010.

So what's next?

To conclude, for the six reasons listed above, taxonomy is something that you can't afford to ignore if you are working on a SharePoint 2010 project.  Take advantage of the managed metadata feature and give your users the tools they need to take control of the information inside your organization.

WAND can help your organization establish and execute a taxonomy and tagging strategy for SharePoint 2010. Contact us today to discuss your specific project and find out more about how WAND can help.

Friday, January 20, 2012

WAND Skills Taxonomy

WAND has been doing a lot of work in SharePoint 2010 since it launched providing taxonomies for the managed metadata service to help companies tag library items more effectively.  However, we noticed that managed metadata can also be used to help tag My Sites profiles so we created a skills taxonomy just for that purpose.

WAND Skills Taxonomy
The WAND Skills taxonomy has over 1400 different business and personal skills that can be used as a foundation for creating robust skills profiles for any business.

Helping your employees fill out a skills profile with a common set of skills across the organization can be extremely valuable for team building, sharing expertise, and finding the right combination of skills for projects.

WAND Skills Taxonomy 2

     If you are using My Sites without a skills taxonomy, you risk ending up with a mess.  One employee may tag himself as "Spanish Speaker" while another tags herself with "I know Spanish" and another may say "Hablo Espanol".    This lack of normalization severely limits the usefullness of these profiles.  

Here you can see how we have integrated the skills taxonomy into the SharePoint My Sites profile. When an employee begins to type in his or her skills, suggestions from the skills taxonomy will appear, allowing the employee to select from the common vocabulary that has been established.

WAND Skills Taxonomy in SharePoint My Sites Profile

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Real Estate Taxonomy now available from WAND

Happy new year!  I'm very excited about 2012 and think it is going to be a great year for taxonomies.   2011 saw a ton of growth in interest and awareness of taxonomies, much of this driven by adoption of SharePoint 2010 and the term store feature, but certainly other applications as well.  I'll post more about this separately, but for now, I want to focus on the first new taxonomy launch of the year from WAND:  Real Estate Taxonomy.

WAND Real Estate Taxonomy
With 733 terms and 169 synonyms, the WAND Real Estate Taxonomy covers the three main pillars of a real estate company: real estate development, real estate investment, and real estate management, as well as financing and analysis.

This real estate taxonomy was designed specifically for a real estate centric organization who is undertaking a document management or search initiative. It covers the important concepts and document types that a real estate organization may want to use to tag and search for documents.   As always, every taxonomy is going to need some customization for your specific organizational needs, but the WAND Real Estate Taxonomy will jump start any taxonomy initiative.

The WAND Real Estate Taxonomy is available standalone and as part of the WAND Taxonomy Library Portal.

Keep your eye on this blog for more news about new taxonomies that are made available.  In 2011, we released a number of new titles including:

Mining Taxonomy
Legal Taxonomy
Skills Taxonomy
Manufacturing Taxonomy
Insurance Taxonomy
Information Technology Taxonomy

We plan to release even more in 2012 and look forward to continuing to be the leading provider of pre-built taxonomies to information professionals.