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Finding the Who and the What Using Controlled Vocabularies

By September 30, 2008February 23rd, 2023Controlled Vocabularies, Taxonomy

While I was at Enterprise Search Summit and Taxonomy Boot Camp, I heard some really interesting presentations. On Wednesday I sat in on a presentation by Ahren Lehnert titled “Taxonomy and Resource Location: Finding the Who and the What”. This was a really good presentation because it addressed some of the ways we have been advocating using ‘taxonomies’ that might be new approaches for some and therefore it resonated with me because it’s something I have been speaking to my customers about.

Ahren’s presentation was about how it can be difficult for an organization to capture and retrieve knowledge and expertise held by resources, both internal and external. He discussed how combining taxonomy and search can help organizations with resource location.









He noted that one challenge is finding the right person with the right skills. In a large company this can be difficult because there are so many roles and such a variety in skill sets among employees. In small organizations the difficulty stems from having fewer roles, and therefore, fewer skill sets. He also made the point that job titles don’t always indicate what knowledge and skill sets are associated. An additional challenge can be the result of a merger or acquisition—each company could have unique titles for the same position, or the same title could be used to describe different positions. The information about these resources can be found in a variety of places—wikis, blogs, human resources applications, sales applications, project management applications, and content management systems. The key is to be able to surface content from all of these repositories through a single search.

Here is an Example:
Employee X creates a user profile on the wiki and lists her job skills and interests. She also co-authors a report for a shoe manufacturer. She then attended a seminar on SharePoint and Taxonomy and blogged about it. HR already has her resume on file, which lists her former positions.

If I am working on a project with that same shoe manufacturer, I might be interested in talking with others who have expertise in that area. Employee X could be a great resource, but it is possible I don’t know that she exists, much less that she has experience working with that particular client. If I could search across all the repositories of information, and a controlled vocabulary were leveraged in that search, I should be able to find Employee X and contact her about the project. The knowledge is there, it just needs to be organized with a taxonomy and retrieved using search combined with the taxonomy.

When we work on client engagements, we work directly with the client to assess the various repositories of information and develop taxonomy strategies that many times includes vast amount of information about their employees. Using our Process Model for Developing & Deploying Taxonomies we can also build custom taxonomies that can be leveraged in the client’s enterprise search solutions. Often however a client will also have an existing taxonomy in place so it just needs to be enhanced to meet the current needs as well as expand it out for expertise location.

In conclusion- controlled vocabularies can and should be used in various ways to assist corporate users in finding information- from finding the right report with a quick search to finding the right person to validate an opportunity with a quick call or email and Ahren’s presentation at the Enterprise Search Summit gave us all some good examples of how and why this should be done.