Taxonomy gives us a "special power" to provide an overall pattern for organizing content to solve a business problem, represent an organizational structure and provide a map or information architecture.
There are three phases in the content lifecycle – 1) first you create or acquire it, 2) then you categorize it, and 3) finally you organize or curate it, for example, in a presentation. At each phase you increase the value of the content. The ultimate goal is to re-use content again and again. With each re-use, its value increases logarithmically. This has been called “metadata capital”.1
1 Jane Greenberg. “Metadata Capital: Raising Awareness, Exploring a New Concept.”
April 2014. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 40(4):30-33. DOI:10.1002/bult.2014.1720400412
Taxonomy Strategies provides specialized consulting services to help organizations arrange their information for its most effective use. Our services include:
Taxonomy, metadata, knowledge graph, ontology, controlled vocabulary, classification, tagging, semantic web, business glossary, machine learning ...
There are a lot of concepts related to taxonomy and metadata. Taxonomy Strategies offers taxonomy workshops to help people understand this topic, and focus on the things they need to know in order to satisfy their business needs. Workshops are tailored to the needs of each client. They can range from a briefing or lecture to a multi-day project definition exercise.
We emphasize that taxonomies are just tools which are deployed in order to meet a larger purpose. We concentrate on the who, what, where, when, how, and why of taxonomies and metadata.
Our project definition services help clients determine whether a taxonomy implementation is justified. We work with clients to clearly define the benefits they wish to achieve, the kinds of metadata, taxonomies, software, and work processes that will be needed to achieve them, and the cost/benefit tradeoffs. Typical deliverables are requirements and specifications for metadata elements, software capabilities, user interfaces and work processes.
By itself, a taxonomy is just an intellectual exercise. To make a difference, taxonomies must be integrated with software systems and with work processes. That integration requires answers to questions like:
Who will tag the content with terms from the taxonomy, how will they do it, and how long will it take them to do so? Once the data has been tagged, what software and business process changes will be needed to take advantage of the new metadata?
The core service we perform is constructing taxonomies with our clients. Our method begins with understanding the business problem to be solved with the taxonomy, and designing a metadata specification which defines the information that must be collected to solve the problem.
We look for evidence that tells us how people look for and use information such as query logs, usage analytics, user research, stakeholder interviews and focus groups. We seek out, and to the greatest extent possible, recommend using existing taxonomies from relevant areas, with only as much customization or new vocabulary development as needed.
It is also important to consider how the taxonomy will be maintained over time, and to put that system in place early. This way the evolution of the taxonomy can be handled in a systematic way, and the staff that will maintain the taxonomy get on-the-job experience right away.
When the team has agreed on the candidate taxonomy, we use task-based usability testing to validate user consensus around the meaning and context of taxonomy concepts and their labels. The goal of these tasks is to develop confidence that the taxonomy will be functional and effective, and to identify any final changes before production.
While all of our customers recognize the value of taxonomies for systematically organizing their information, very few recognize in advance the changes that will be needed for a taxonomy to make a meaningful difference in their operations.
A taxonomy must be flexible and the process for updating it on a regular basis must be defined. Otherwise, the taxonomy will need to be replaced every few years. Because Taxonomy Strategies has been a pioneer in enterprise taxonomy, we have best practices templates to use as the starting point for a successful taxonomy business process. Taxonomy governance includes developing the:
- Charter for the overall activity,
- Roles and responsibilities for the taxonomy team and organizational liaisons,
- Policies and procedures for making changes to categories and associated category information such as definitions and synonyms, and
- Communications plan that covers the whole taxonomy lifecycle.
People have an innate tendency to classify things. However, we do not naturally classify things the same way. Taxonomy Strategies can provide staff training on how they should classify things with the new taxonomy, so that the results are as uniform as possible. More in-depth training can be provided for the staff who will maintain the taxonomies.
Computer-assisted categorization and workflows can guide organizations to tagging content assets with complete and consistent metadata. Quality metadata then enables content aggregation and machine learning to support scalability.
Taxonomy Strategies has been developing tools and systems to build, maintain, deploy and use taxonomies for more than 30 years. Because of this deep experience, we have templates for requirements to jump start the procurement of systems. So, we can efficiently assist you in identifying and selecting the best technology to meet your needs. We can also work with your IT department or third parties to define the specifications for integration of your taxonomy with applications and tools.