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:
  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.