Transcript

 

Danny:

 

Hello everyone, and welcome to this webinar on finding anything in SharePoint with Amazon-Like faceted search, wow I got that out.

 

This is Danny Ryan, I’ll be your host for today, and I am the co-founder and VP of Business Development for ThreeWill. I have here with me a partner, Ross Leher, he’s the CEO and chairman of WAND INC. I’ve also included in on this conversation as well Bo George. Bo is a principal consultant for ThreeWill. He leads up our portals practice lead. I wanted him in on the conversation as well.

 

The way this is set up today is, it’s set up as a conversation. I wanted to have Bo just be able to chime in, maybe on some recent project experience, or some things that we’ve seen, and have him chime in that way, and look forward to showing this to you guys today.

 

Thank you everybody for joining. A couple of logistical things, before we jump into the content … we will be recording the webinar, so you can share it with colleagues. We’ll send a link out to it, so look for a followup next week, with the link. I think we might also be putting this on the podcast as well.

 

The deck for the webinar is available, it’s in the downloads panel … let’s make sure we’re all set there. You should be able to see … actually, it’s in the handouts. You can see in the handouts panel, you can download it from there, a PDF of the presentation.

 

If you’ve got any questions at all, I’ve got our producer here, Oliver is behind me. Today’s Oliver’s birthday, it’s his 21st birthday, happy birthday Oliver. He’ll be handling your questions, or if you have anything you’d like to chat about as well, he’ll keep an eye on that.

 

You’re not drinking yet, are you? You’re 21 years old … not til tonight. Okay, he’s going to wait til tonight.

 

So if you’ve got anything there, just let us know, and we’ll respond to the questions towards the end of the webinar. So that gets us kicked off with a little bit of logistics.

 

The agenda for today … what we wanted to start off with is our perspective and the backstory on this, which is why we wanted to share more information about what Ross and his company does, and why we think this is so important to our customers and to people in general who are using SharePoint and things. So I wanted to give a little bit of a backstory to get us started out with the webinar today. The next part, I’ll let Ross take over, and he’ll help define for us what the enterprise need is, around findability. I also want him to give a little bit of a background on sort of how WAND fits into the picture, what they do. And then, for some people this might be a new topic for them, as far as what taxonomy is, so I just want to give sort of an overview of what that is, and really just be able to make sure that we’re all using the same vocabulary when we’re talking. And then, sort of looking at what this overall webinar’s about, we’re looking at trying to create something, like Amazon-like faceted search.

 

We all know, the net time you go look for a new pair of shoes within Amazon, it’s amazing how quickly you can narrow it down to the correct ones. So we wanted to say, “How can we do something similar with the content that we have on our intranets, inside of SharePoint?” And then he’s going to go through and just share a little bit about the business functions in industries, the different taxonomies for those, and then I’ll ask him to do a demonstration of their taxonomy portal.

 

And then from there, sort of like, “How do you get started with all this stuff?” There’s a two-to-three week quick-start project, which we’ll talk a little bit about, and what does that look like, and how do you get this whole thing started out in the right way?

 

And then we’ve got a case study that we’d like to review about Goodwill industries, and review what some of the things were that we found out from that case study.

 

Then we’ll wrap it up with, I’ve just got some conclusions, just some things, what do I want everybody to walk away with from this webinar, and just some of the conclusions. At that point in time, we’ll go through and see if there’s any questions that folks have, and we’ll answer the questions at that time.

 

I’ve got it open right now. I like sort of conversational. I’ll hand it over, after I’m done with the backstory, over to Ross. But Ross or Bo, feel free to jump in, if there’s anything that you’d like to add to the conversation.

 

Hey Bo, how’s it going?

 

Bo:Good, good. How are you, Danny?

 

Danny:Good, good, good. And Ross, you’re there?

 

Ross:We are here in the mile-high city of Denver, Colorado. It’s a beautiful day.

 

Danny:It is? Okay, awesome. Great to have you guys here.

 

Let’s get started with the backstory. For folks who are on the line, I ended up inviting a lot of people to this who are current client, or folks that we have interacted with through the years. Most people know we’ve been working with clients on building intranets and extranets on SharePoint for a while now. It’s been a while.

 

One of the most common complaints that we hear from people is, “I can’t find anything in SharePoint.” Bo, you hear that quite a bit?

 

Bo:Yeah, for sure. I was thinking, as soon as you have two people working on a single document, you’re going to have the, “I can’t find anything in SharePoint.” That’s how simple it is, is two people working on something in SharePoint.

 

Danny:Never mind an organization with thousands or hundreds of thousands of people.

 

Bo:Right.

 

Danny:So the taxonomy is going to enable ways for us to present and find content. Bo, I know you wanted to specifically call out these things: search, navigation, automatic tagging, and document routing.

 

Bo:Yeah. When people talk about, “findability,” immediately you gravitate towards, “search,” and that’s kind of the most obvious thing … conversational search, your Amazon scenario, is clicking things and refining your results. So that one’s a huge one with taxonomy. The other thing that I think taxonomy enables in SharePoint that people don’t think about as much is navigation, which could be search, or it could be other things. And then automatic tagging, so where I put a document, it could be automatically tagged with terms and taxonomy stuff, which reduces the need for people to fill out metadata, because it’s done for them, auto-magically.

 

And even document routing features in SharePoint, which I think are awesome, like … I upload it, I tag it with something, and it puts it in specific places, so that it’s organized based on how I tag it.

 

So it’s not just search, but that’s a huge part, but it also enables all kinds of other features in SharePoint.

 

Danny:And all this is going to be missing if you don’t have a common taxonomy that’s been defined.

 

Bo:Exactly, yep.

 

Danny:You seem as though this is a daunting task, ’cause this is not typically something that we learned in school, or people taking this on. I just wanted to mention, I know a recent example where you were working with a client and asking for, “Give us your top 20 document types,” and even that was a difficult thing for them to go through.

 

Bo:Yeah, and it’s been my experience, not many of us have graduate school with a degree in Information Sciences, that talk about classification systems and things like that, that’s just not our day job. So when you say, “Give me your top 10 document types,” on the surface it sounds like an easy question, but it may not be.

 

Some customers will just punt on it and not do anything, which is maybe the worst thing to do. The other flip side is, I’ve worked with customers that, they’ve taken on that daunting task, and it’s taken them years, potentially, to define a taxonomy, because they started with a blank slate and di all that work.

 

So it can be daunting to the point where you just don’t do anything, or it just takes forever. I’ve seen both sides for sure.

 

Danny:And Ross, not everyone’s like you, where they eat taxonomy for breakfast.

 

Ross:Well, it’s not that difficult, but we’ll have some fun today. Look forward to it.

 

Danny:Awesome, appreciate it.

 

So starting with what we found, and this is a ley thing from meeting up with Ross, is really understanding … if we can start with a pre-defined taxonomy, a lot of … you just do this in general, consulting-wise, instead of starting with a blank slate, having something that is in initial skeleton for you to work with, or a straw-man that’s out there, it’s really a way to make this a reality.

 

This is why we wanted to … we didn’t have this webinar initially scheduled for this year, but as soon as Bo and I met up with Ross a couple times, I was like, “We’ve really got to share this with folks in the ThreeWill community.” That sort of brings us to where we are today, and why we wanted to share what Ross has for you.

 

Ross, I’m going to go ahead and switch over and make you the presenter. I’ll give you control, and if you want to turn on your webcam, that’s fine as well. It’s up to you.

 

Ross:Sounds good, I hope I’m not dominating the screen too much.

 

Danny:No, you look great.

 

Ross:Well, thank you.

 

Danny:You don’t look that great. Wait a minute.

 

Ross:Listen, first things first. I want to thank Danny and his team for organizing everything today. It’s terrific. Hopefully we’ll have a little bit of fun today.

 

The Enterprise Need – The Pain Point. What the heck are taxonomies, and what does it mean to all of us? The problem, I think as Danny just talked about, is search. We can’t find stuff. If we think about the physical assets of an enterprise, we have inventory control systems for all of our physical assets, we know where every component is, if we’ve got a manufacturing line … all of the physical assets, they’re on our ballot sheet, real estate, equipment, so on and so forth.

 

All the physical assets of an enterprise have been tagged and classified. Why? So we can find them. The macro-problem, 75% … and this is probably understated, 75% of information workers say that finding the right information, not the physical assets, but the intellectual, the information assets, is critical to the organization’s success. We would suggest taxonomies as one of the key success factors for effective search and findability.

 

What are the obstacles to finding our information, our intellectual assets well, everyone knows poor search functionality, inconsistency in how we tag content. Lack of adequate tags. We waste a lot of time when we can’t find the documents we’re looking for, and we get very, very frustrated. When we can’t find the documents that we’re looking for, we either do without them, or we try and recreate them. But in every case, it’s extraordinarily frustrating. So how do we solve this problem?

 

Little bit of background about our company first. WAND has been building taxonomies since 1983. We began to build taxonomies a long time ago, because we had large insurance companies here in the United States that we provided software programs to, that required taxonomies. Taxonomy libraries that we’re going to look at today, there’s 128,000 curated terms, address virtually every industry vertical and all of the operational areas of an organization. For some of our clients, we’re necessary. We provide taxonomy professional services. Our client base all over the world, taxonomies can be used in SharePoint, but they can be used in big data applications, eCommerce cataloging … search, as we’ve discuss, BI analytics, the list goes on and on and on.

 

Out of the box, the taxonomy term store in SharePoint is empty. There’s nothing in it. WAND provides taxonomies that are formatted for direct input into that empty term store. But the enterprise may have many, many applications into which taxonomies can be imported, BI analytics, big data, the list goes on and on and on. We format the taxonomies for direct import into those various applications.

 

Taxonomy is a mystery for most people. I think most of the folks on this call know what they are. I hope I do, but we all face the burden of explaining to people in our companies what the heck that word, “taxonomies,” means, and what difference it makes to what we’re doing.

 

Say, for the sake of argument, we’ve got a company that’s got 2,000 employees. I’m going to put those 2,000 employees into a room, and I’m going to ask them the question, “Everybody that knows what a taxonomy is, raise your hand.” Not too many hands go up.

 

Then I’m going to say to those folks, “Everybody that’s used Amazon.com, raise your hand.” Now everybody raises their hand.

 

I’m going to say to the people, “When you do a search for the word, ‘shoes,’ on Amazon, you’re going to get 550,000 results. On the left-hand side of the screen, are taxonomies. A taxonomy of size, I want a size 11. Taxonomy of colors, I choose black. Type of shoe, I select men’s dress shoe. Taxonomy of brands, I choose Allen Edmonds. 550,000 results, narrowed down to the five that are relevant to the user.”

 

I say to those 2,000 people, “As long as you’ve been using Amazon, you’ve been using taxonomy. You’ve just never put that word to it before. It didn’t matter whether you were searching for a pair of shoes, a computer, a television … the taxonomy’s always on the left-hand side of the screen, to enable you to find the results that are relevant for you.”

 

I’d say to the folks, “Think about the feeling of control we have over our search when we use Amazon. We know we’re going to find what we’re looking for, because those taxonomies are there to help us navigate the result sets. Imagine having the same feeling of control over the search for our enterprise documents.” This is what the WAND taxonomies, in conjunction with SharePoint, enable.

 

The analogy is a very good one, and if you think about the problem that Amazon had when they started, they had stacks of shoes, stacks of computers, libraries of televisions, so on and so forth, and they needed taxonomies to be able to tag those various libraries of merchandise to enable that taxonomy-driven search.

 

The enterprise has the same problem. Instead of libraries of shoes, computers, televisions, the enterprise has libraries of HR documents, accounting documents, IT documents. If you’re in the building and construction business, building and construction documents, so on and so forth. And WAND provides taxonomies to tag those various libraries of documents.

 

The analogy is another good one if we think about a content type. We might think that, “shoes,” is a content type. If we have a library of HR documents, let’s say they’re compensation documents. We may say, “HR compensation documents.” That’s a content type.

 

So, remember that analogy. It explains everything.

 

One slide we like to show folks, you can show this to the business side, the technical side, and people immediately get it. Everybody knows what the Amazon experience looks like. Do a search, you’ve got refiners … let’s see what this actually looks like.

 

In this case, Amazon decide they’re going to have a library of shoes. What we decided is, we’re going to have a library of HR documents. A library of documents, nothing confidential, just documents, insurance plans, company handbooks, time off forms, so on and so forth. And when we check documents into that library, we tag them with the appropriate taxonomy terms. The same terms that we use to tag the documents, navigation trees, in the search process.

 

When we do a search for the term, “HR,” in that library, you can imagine we’re going to get everything on the left-hand side of the screen, just like Amazon. There’s the refiners … and I need an expense form. Instead of calling my manager, instead of calling HR, I can now find all of the documents that are relevant, open-source documents for employees.

 

The reason we always like to start with a library like this is because it’s a success story, and it’s relevant to every individual in your company. We like to break taxonomies down even further to their absolute basic levels.

 

We would suggest taxonomies are the data model for unstructured text. Now I’m going to say to everyone, there’s no such thing as unstructured text. If I put a ThreeWill brochure on the table, if I put a Wall Street Journal article on the desk, everybody’s saying to me, “Ross, two perfect examples of unstructured text, what ar you talking about?”

 

And I’d say to everybody on the call, “Every one of us can read the ThreeWill brochure, we understand it perfectly. We can all read the Wall Street Journal article. It’s not unstructured text for the human brain.”

 

So make a small modification to this first statement. Taxonomies are the data model for unstructured text that we can use in computer programs like SharePoint, to tag documents in a structure that replicates how the human brain organizes the domain of information.

 

We would suggest implicit taxonomies are how the human brain organizes information. These implicit taxonomies have been developed ever since the day we were born.

 

I have a five year old granddaughter. The first terms she knew were the terms, “wet,” and “dry.” The terms, “hungry,” me stomach is full. She didn’t put words to those concepts, but from the day she was born, she started organizing her knowledge base.

 

She’s five years old. She knows there’s a top-level term of, “food,” a narrower term, “fruit … apples, oranges, bananas … ” Narrower term to food, “Baked goods, cookies, brownies.” She’s organized that domain of information, “food,” into logical, broader, narrower, narrower, narrower terms.

 

We do the same thing with geography. Continents, countries, states, cities, districts. And we do the same thing with all the enterprise domains of information. The explicit taxonomies that WAND has developed are simply representations of how the human brain and enterprises organize information. These explicit taxonomies are used with enterprise applications like SharePoint for tagging documents, for taxonomy-driven search and libraries, and of many, many other applications for text-to-knowledge purposes.

 

We want those 2,000 people to say to themselves, “Boy, four or five minutes ago, I had no idea what the heck a taxonomy was. But I’ve been using the all my life. Been using them when I use Amazon. Heck, I’m going to the grocery store after work tonight, there’s taxonomies everywhere … meat department, dairy department, milk, cheese … different types of cheese. There’s no mystery about that word, ‘taxonomies,’ except one … why have I never used it before, to describe how information’s organized?”

 

The reason I spend time on this, four or five minutes, is because we find, within our clients, when everybody understands, it eliminated the mystery of that word, they see, “Boy, we’re going to a great search, it’s going to be just like Amazon.” It creates a tremendous amount of momentum, and it makes your jobs a lot easier to implement a great search, and to implement these types of processes within SharePoint.

 

We take every document, we’ll say [inaudible 00:28:09] your telecommunications company. If we take every document in your telecommunications company, we say, “We’re going to put al those documents, we’re going to put them into one room, just like Amazon did. They decided, ‘We’re going to put those into stacks, we’re going to put them into libraries.’ We’re going to have libraries of accounting, environmental, HR, IT, libraries of documents, every organization has, WAND provides taxonomies that address all those libraries of documents.

 

Also going to have to have libraries of documents that address the business activities of your organization. Telecommunication documents, a lot of telecommunications companies have retail store, sell retail stores. Going to have real estate documents, going to have building and construction documents, every company build and constructs assembly lines, remodels, whatever it might be.

 

In a nutshell, WAND provides taxonomies that address all of the domains of knowledge for an organization.

 

With that, we’re going to go to a demonstration of our WAND Taxonomy Library Portal. What this provides is online access to all of our WAND taxonomies, our client can browse, download the taxonomies in formats that can be directly imported into SharePoint. We provide regular updates, release new taxonomies on an ongoing basis, and the library can be licensed for a single application, or it can be licensed for any, many applications that the enterprise might have.

 

I’m assuming that everyone on this call has an understanding of where taxonomies reside within SharePoint, and that’s the taxonomy term store. We’ll go to the taxonomy library. Each one of our clients gets a username and a passcode. This particular user, Ross Leher, is licensed to download taxonomies that can be imported into these various SharePoint applications. Just for context, we format the taxonomies for about 100 different enterprise applications, BI analytics, big data, the list goes on and on and on and on.

 

We partner with many of these application providers, probably our highest-profile partner, WAND provides taxonomies that can be imported into the [inaudible 00:30:34] engine applications.

 

Taxonomies improve the performance of many, many enterprise applications, and they’re a very, very necessary ingredient. What our users are able to do is, go to the taxonomy library and browse the various taxonomy titles.

 

Because there’s so many of them, we’ve grouped them into industry verticals. We’ll take financial banking organization, investment bank organization … we’ll say to them, “This is a list of all of the domains of knowledge within your organization. You’re going to have real estate documents, libraries of procurement documents, libraries of finance and investment banking documents, customer service … every organization provides health insurance, life insurance have to have casualty insurance, accounting documents, libraries or facilities management.”

 

These represent all of the libraries, all the domains of knowledge. And always start with IT for the demonstration. I’ll explain to you why in a moment.

 

User is able to click into any one of the taxonomy titles and explore the various taxonomy trees. Numbers of terms in a taxonomy hierarchy on the right hand side, in parentheses.

 

We’ll drill down on IT administration. Many of our clients are using the second and the third-level terms as a basis for setting up libraries. I want to set up a library for all of my IT policies, make sure we’ve got them all. When we set that library up, these are the terms that we’ll be able to tag documents with, when they’re checked in. And just like that HR search we were looking at, these are the terms that will be used as the refiners on the search process in SharePoint.

 

Some of our clients will come back and say, “Ross, we didn’t have a smartphone policy, we didn’t have some of the access control policies,” soon and so forth. We began to checklist, because in a lot of cases, they had a lot of these policies, but they were in this file share, they were over here, they were someplace else, or they hadn’t formalized them, or they hadn’t updated them. So a great byproduct, it became a wonderful checklist to make sure that they did have everything.

 

The reason I always start with IT, I make the argument, and every day when you read the newspapers, IT security, most important taxonomy for any organization. We don’t have documents, we don’t have workflows … if we don’t have expertise within the organization that we can tag with these terms, we may want to take a second look at our IT security policies.

 

What the user is able to do is explore the various taxonomy titles. We can then highlight at any level, and whatever we highlight, we can click on Download. Or, if I want to take all of IT administration at one time, I highlight that, click on Download … select the application into which it’s going to be imported. I confirm it.

 

Starting to add multiple languages select our language. Click on Continue To Download, and what’s taking place now, IT administration is being formatted for SharePoint. It takes three or four minutes for the formatting to take place. The user can continue browsing, or we can go to our delivery page.

 

We formatted this just yesterday, IT administration formatted for SharePoint. We can download the file directly to our desktop, and then proceed to import that term set directly into the taxonomy term store in SharePoint, and proceed to use it in our SharePoint implementation.

 

You kind of want to think about, the taxonomy portal represents like a grocery store. Everything’s there, you can pick and choose what you need, and if you want to think about … go back to that Amazon analogy, each one of these represents … shoes, computers and this and that, all the different domains of knowledge, and I may want to have a library for … just like we look at, employee benefits, and the library for company policies.

 

This is kind of our menu. What libraries do we want to set up? I want to set up an IT policy library, I want to set up a library for all of our IT infrastructure, all of the different components within that infrastructure, the documents, so on and so forth.

 

Danny:Ross, quick question as we’re looking at this. From your experience, is there a specific executive inside of larger companies that owns the overall taxonomy of the company? I know there’s certain departments, like an HR department where they can sort of define their own. Who’s the person responsible, overall in these large organizations, who’s responsible for defining the taxonomy? Is there typically an executive?

 

Ross:It’s not a matter of defining the taxonomy per se, but it’s a matter of realizing, recognizing, we have intellectual assets. We have knowledge within the organization. I don’t think it’s the IT department. What we’re seeing more and more, there’s an increasing … frankly, increasing sales, because there’s a recognition of, Chief Information Officer, we’re seeing new officers, Chief Knowledge Officers, Chief Innovation Officers … and they look at the requirement and say, “We’ve got all this information, and no one can find it.” It’s crazy.

 

Danny:And then they would work with the different departments, or they would work with their industry specialist to go out and define these taxonomies.

 

Ross:That’s it. What we’re seeing is … and we call these, “foundation taxonomies,” our clients tell us, it gets the 85%, 90% of the way there. Our client are telling us, it literally saves them months and month and months and months. They’re able to customize the HR taxonomy list in a day. Our clients tell us, “It gets us 85%, 90% of the way there.” Some of our clients tell us, “It’s got us 140% of the way there,” because there’s terms and phrases they would have never thought about, had they built it from scratch.

 

This is the key point: people are expert at what they do, not experts in taxonomy building, editing … the pre-built taxonomies provides an easy, contextual reference.

 

Danny:It’s almost like when you hear, “I know it when I’ll see it.” Like you have to see it first. And as I mentioned earlier, it’s commonly. From a consulting standpoint, “Never show up with a blank slate.” Show up with something that you can at last work with, and take apart and build up. This provides that to you.

 

Ross:I’m going to do, cause we’re in the finance area, “I need a taxonomy for risk.” Huh. Risk. Risk can have many, many meanings. The search result on the left-hand side of the screen, the terms and phrases. On the right-hand side of the screen, the taxonomy they’re located in, from a contextual point of view.

 

I don’t care about insurance, I can are about credit risk in context of banking. I click on that term, and it takes me directly to that term, “credit risk,” in the banking taxonomy.

 

Some probably need to have a library for risk management processes. And a library for internal process, and so on and so forth. A library for the various bank regulations, so we don’t have to go searching for them, so on and so forth. A library for the different bank products.

 

Remember, we can tag a document with more than one taxonomy term. We can have a mortgage product, and a brochure about that mortgage product.

 

I’m going to show you one other search. This is an example or a multi-faceted search. What we’ve one here is, we’ve indexed a number of SharePoint conferences. When we were looking at the HR library, we just had one refiner. Now, when we tagged the documents that went into this library, we tagged them with the type of document, the conference locations, and the event.

 

And now I want to find document, conferences in Chicago. I don’t care about SharePoint Fest, I care about Microsoft Ignite. And I don’t care about sponsor schedules, I need to get my registration form.

 

So if we think about this we have a mortgage product … and we have different types of mortgage products, credit cards, so on and so forth. We may want to tag the various products that we have, and because we’ve got a great sales and marketing team, but they can’t find stuff … when we check that document in, it’s about a mortgage, and the document could be a case study, it could be a data sheet, it could be a sales brochure, it could be a testimonial.

 

When a salesperson is looking, “I’m trying to sell this product to my client … ” Well, here’s the product, here’s all the documents for the product, and here’s the lead-behinds, and here’s the product data sheets, and so on and so forth. It could be the price list, the price list exist in here, so on and so forth.

 

And the marketing people … I’m focused on marketing mortgages in the Georgia area. I probably want to be able to find my research, demand forecasting. Or maybe I’ve got the international, I want to see demand forecasting for the UK marketing, so on and so forth.

 

You want to think about, “How do I organize information?” At the grocery store, how do they organize stuff? They’ve got meat in one area …

 

Think about your house. You’ve got a kitchen. We’ve got different things in the kitchen. We’ve got a place where we put our spices. We’ve got a place in SharePoint where we put our sales collateral documents. It’s the same kind of a concept.

 

It’s not difficult because we do it every day. We just have not thought about it, in these types of a context.

 

Danny:What if your house is not that organized? You see how you could benefit from it.

 

Ross:This is where you have to start. You’ve got to recognize … and I say this to people, if you’ve been living in your house for 20 years … and this is a great time for a migration strategy, and you’re moving. When you move from House A to House B, you make an evaluation on House A, “What don’t I want to move? What have I not used?” And then, “Where do I want to put it in House B?”

 

I want to be very straightforward. WAND is a company, we provide great taxonomies. But experts like ThreeWill, they provide the How. Our clients, they want to have great search? Why? “Because we’re wasting a lot of time, a lot of frustration.” But every environment is different, every organization is different.

 

I don’t know how many engagements, hundreds if not thousands of engagements ThreeWill has been involved in, they’ve done it a bunch of times. Hundreds of times, so this is the expertise, and this is how we integrate with folks like Danny and his team.

 

Danny:A couple of other things Ross. You just mentioned migrations, and that’s probably a good time … when I think about organizing. We’ve been doing the latest, everybody’s moving typically to SharePoint Online, so I think that’s a great time for you to … a lot of customers want to do cleanup at that time, probably reorganizing, and it’s probably really a good time for you to introduce that taxonomy to the company.

 

Ross:Absolutely. At the end of the day, we want to be able to find stuff.

 

Danny:The other thing is, I noticed … if you go back to that search page that you were on, is that Microsoft is starting to, based upon things like the document type and the author and created date, they’re trying to implicitly start to create some facets for you. If you look at the bottom of it, it’s almost like there’s certain things that Microsoft can do like the author and modified date. I think this is something relatively new to SharePoint Online.

 

There’s been some things that have been around for a while, but there are some new stuff. I find this incredibly helpful, to have that modified date, ’cause I’m looking for a document I know I worked on last week, and it’s not even fining things that other people have created, it’s my own stuff. It’s a huge help.

 

Ross:I think what you want to think about, when we think about metadata or taxonomy is, we could call this, “administrative metadata.” It tells us that it is an Excel document, it tells us who the author is, and it tells us when it was modified. But it doesn’t tell us what the document is about. This is what we would call, “descriptive metadata.”

 

When we go back to our slide on the shoes, this is the descriptive metadata. It tells us the size, the color. It tells us what’s in that box of shoes. This is telling us, what’s in that Excel document that Danny authored on June 26th. This describes what it is. Or if it’s a specification sheet on XYZ computer that I’m a salesman for. So this is the descriptive metadata versus the so-called administrative metadata.

 

Danny:And that administrative data, although helpful, it’s definitely helpful in that, along with sort of a free-text search is helpful … it just doesn’t get people to where they really need to be. It’s like one of those things, if you don’t take that last step, the experience is just … commonly what we’re running into, which is, there’s and time spent towards this, and they’re trying to use that administrative metadata, and they’re trying to use what’s inside the content of the document, but it just doesn’t get them to a place where they can easily find things.

 

Ross:Another aspect of search … and the guys at ThreeWill, they know I’m not a SharePoint specialist. That’s the first thing I tell people. But in the term store, we call these foundation taxonomies, and in your company, you may have a special location, Georgia, rule and regulations. So you can add terms, you can delete terms, so on and so forth.

 

Another important point is … we may think of the concept, “leave and time off.” Or, HR. I call it HR, Danny calls is Human Resources, Bo calls is Personnel. So, within SharePoint, we can add synonyms. Retirement plans, whatever the synonyms …

 

Danny:A real word, for reference, is we would call it, “People.” We sort of call our HR, “People.”

 

Ross:There you go. But this is where the customizations, the adding of additional terms, adding vocabulary that’s used within the organization. Call it Information Technology, call it IT, so on and so forth. You simply add synonyms.

 

Bo:Ross and Danny, I wanted to jump in on, when you guys were talking about the administrative taxonomy versus the descriptive taxonomy. Another thing that it made me think, where we help a lot is, taking WAND’s taxonomy and, like Ross said, you apply it to a company, and every company is different in terms of what they call stuff. But they’re also different in terms of their people and their people’s willingness to tag things with the descriptive metadata part.

 

Administrative metadata, I also, internally, call it the, “free metadata,” the stuff that it doesn’t require a used to anything other than upload it. One of those areas when I was talking earlier is, simply by virtue of where you put something, that could give you the ability for more free metadata, i.e., if you uploaded a document to an HR document library, we might automatically tag it with some level of that HR taxonomy, versus if you had uploaded it to an IT one. So your SharePoint site-structure, document libraries and so on can enable getting some free descriptive metadata, I think is what that kind of boils down to.

 

Ross:I think that’s a great point, Bo. If we think about our houses … again, I use this metaphor, the house. I use this analogy, here’s the spice rack, and in the garage we’ve got our tools. We’ve got wrenches, screwdrivers, so on. It’s a pain to tag things, it’s a real pain when I do some work in the basement on the water heater, to get all the tools back and put them back where they belong. It’s not a lot of fun, but at the end of the day, if I don’t put those tools where they belong, if my wife doesn’t put the spices where … we can’t find them.

 

When people realize, “This isn’t that difficult, and I’m going to be able to find my stuff, I’m going to be able to find document that Bo checked in, that Danny checked in, we’re all going to be able to find … we’re going to start to eliminate this frustration.” Then, there’s a lot momentum, because it dues alleviate a lot of frustration, and it enables us to do our work a lot better.

 

Overview For a Successful Managed Metadata Project. We always tell folks, “Get a quick win.” And what we want to be able to say to our organizations, “We’re not going to have deliverable results in two to three years, not two to three months … two to three weeks is what we’re looking for.”

 

Danny:Now you’re talking.

 

Ross:And our goal is findability. We want to tag our documents. Why? So we can quickly find them in search. How do we get that started?

 

And if we go back to this financial organization, the folks do a library on banking, the banking folks are going to be interested in that. The procurement people ae going to be interested in the procurement libraries, the accounting people the accounting libraries. So there’s going to be a limited group of people interested in these various libraries … with that one exception. Every employee at the bank, from the CEO to the latest new hire, wants to quickly be able to find their policy documents, benefit documents … again, nothing confidential.

 

So, that’s the group we start with. We download the HR taxonomy, get somebody from Human Resources to help customize it, generally that takes three to four hours. You’ve got a limited number of terms there. Takes 30 minutes to configure the SharePoint taxonomy columns and libraries, search refiners. Have that same person from HR assist in the tagging of the documents. Generally, there’s 250, 300 documents of that character, three or four hours to do that, maybe a little longer.

 

Then we announce to every employee in the company, “Library’s open.” And they see that search works, and they look at this and they say, “My goodness. If search can work for this library, why can’t they do that for my sales documents?” And the IT people the IT documents, and everybody starts to project what this is going to look like in their day-to-day world, within the organization.

 

It’s not an IT project anymore, it’s not a SharePoint project. It’s a project that everybody sees, “What’s in it for me?” It generates a huge amount of enterprise momentum … and then your problem is going to be, everybody’s going to be tugging on your shirt, prioritizing additional groups for implementation. Deliverable results, two to three weeks, and now we want to replicate it enterprise-wide.

 

Nice case study, and there’s a link to this … I’ll see if I can find it here. Nielsen Norman selected the 10 best intranets every year, and Goodwill Industries International was selected as one of those. In the real world, we all know this, we want to be able to find our stuff, we want to be able to find our documents, we want to be able to find the things we have in our houses. Search, findability, findability, search … it’s part of what living is all about, and SharePoint’s a great environment for that. We think we’ve got wonderful taxonomies. The folks that organized this, ThreeWill, Danny and his team, they’ve got the expertise to show you how to get it done.

 

Danny, I’m going to turn it back to you. I think I’ve talked enough.

 

Danny:That was great Ross, thank you so much. I’m sure everybody got … it’s such a great presentation that you do, and I really wanted to share that with everyone else.

 

Just to get us wrapped up here, we’ve got about 10 minutes left before the start of the hour. I wanted to just go through some of what I sort of took away as the conclusions, when listening to Ross and to Bo, and talking with Bo about this.

 

The key component to addressing a findability or search problem is to define a common taxonomy for organizing information inside your company. We have to do that. Taxonomy enables … and I pulled this from Bo, Bo ha pointed this put before the webinar, which was, it provides powerful ways to present and find content, including not just search, it’s also navigation, it’s also automatic tagging and the document routing.

 

Coming back to the overall webinar and what we were trying to present in this webinar, which was, how do you turn SharePoint and how this Amazon-like faceted search available to you? It’s there so that your users can find a document the same way they find their next pair of new shoes.

 

As part of that defining that custom taxonomy from scratch, we’ve just found, is a really daunting task for most companies. The companies who do go after it, as Bo mentioned earlier, they might spend a couple of years doing that. So it’s really a daunting task, and from a lot of what we’ve seen, it’s just commonly not done, and all they’re using is the administrative taxonomy.

 

Starting with a pre-built taxonomy, it’s an effective way to jumpstart this process, and to get to the point where, if you’ve got 75%, 80% of the way there and you’re going there, and you’re culling and you’re adding, and you’re just making it your own, is really the route that we would recommend doing.

 

Also, one of the things that’s sort of the last point here is, taxonomies do change over time, and one of the neat things that I saw about Ross’s product is, it will also, over time, as industries update and business changes come, you can keep those taxonomies up-to-date, which is really important, because the business changes.

 

Anything else to add to that, Ross or Bo?

 

Ross:I think the updates, we have six masters of library information science taxonomists that review each of the taxonomies on a quarterly or semi-annual basis, deepening on the volatility. If we just think about, 20 years ago, the vocabulary that we were using. We weren’t talking about, “online,” we weren’t talking about, “internet.” Al the vocabulary that didn’t exist. Today, machine learning, artificial intelligence, internet of things, so on and so forth, it’s just all new technologies that we keep an eye on, and we add them to our vocabulary sets.

 

As you can tell, I’m an older guy, and you can think about … when I was going to high school, they had computer card. You think about your kids, the technology you grew up with, and then think about the technology your kids are growing up with. It’s really remarkable, the changes that take pace. Sorry for pontificating. Back to you, Danny.

 

Danny:That’s great anything else that you’d add, Bo?

 

Bo:No, the only thing I was thinking is, for those who are on the fence about pursuing a taxonomy, I would say go for it. I think the worst thing you can do is be complacent and do nothing, and somewhere down the road have hundreds or tens of thousands of documents that aren’t tagged, and then you want to do the taxonomy, it’s probably harder. The sooner you start with something, the sooner you’ll get benefits from it.

 

Danny:One of the great points … in the chat window, I shared one of the neat things that Ross and his company does is, they do make available to everyone a general business taxonomy. It’s sort of a starting place that has general business terms, and a taxonomy for that. So if you wanted to download that there, as an example, I think that’s a great place for people to start as well.

 

Ross:If I can just expand on that a bit … Microsoft announced SharePoint 2010 in 2010. We developed the genesis of this general business taxonomy, it’s also available on three blog postings on the Microsoft site. We developed it in conjunction with Microsoft, as a partner. What they wanted to do is, they wanted to provide their client base something for their clients to download to put in that empty term tore for this new feature that they just developed. We’ve actually had about 8,500 downloads over the last five, six years. Danny, that’s a great idea. That gives you a start, give you a flavor of what you can do.

 

Danny:Awesome. Any questions that folks have? And if you’ve been waiting until now, feel free to ask them now. I don’t think … what do you have, Oliver?

 

Oliver:Can it help fine-tune an existing taxonomy?

 

Danny:Ross?

 

Bo:I was going to jump in and answer. I saw the question in the window, too. I don’t know if it would necessarily help you fine-tune an existing taxonomy. I think it might show you a general taxonomy for your particular needs and user input, but I think the tuning of your taxonomy is probably going to be more closely-aligned with your specific company and needs. But I don’t know what your thoughts are, Ross.

 

Ross:What I would say is, companies that have developed taxonomies, there’s not very many of them. They generally develop them based upon file plans, the terms that they use for file plans. If we think about a file plan, a file plan is an analog way or organizing information. So, while those exiting taxonomies can be interesting, the formal curated taxonomy that’s designed for digital tagging of documents is much more effective, but you can fold the terms in as synonyms, and that can be helpful in the transition.

 

Danny:Awesome. Anything else? I think that’s it. I appreciate the question, that was great. It looks like we are getting to the end of the hour here, so again, we’ll send this deck out next week. If you want more information, feel free to follow up with myself or Ross. Here’s our websites.

 

Ross, thank you so much. It was really informative. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this.

 

Ross:It’s a pleasure. Thank you, and thanks to all the people that have attended, and to Bo as well.

 

Danny:Absolutely. Thanks, Bo. Thank you everybody for attending, look for an email next week, and have a wonderful weekend, everyone. Take care.

 

Ross:Have a great Fourth of July. Bye bye now.

 

Danny:Absolutely. Bye bye.

 

 

Related Content