The creation of taxonomies, and the organization of metadata involve some of the most important and challenging aspects of knowledge management. Both of these deal with one of the major problems at the heart of information sciences, classification. Classification is the logical arranging of information for the purpose of finding it quickly when it is needed. The structure of this arrangement is usually represented as a taxonomy and the information associated with the items are metadata. For example, in NASA’s taxonomy we find Top Secret nestled underneath Classified, which is below Access Control. If this taxonomy referred to an article, the metadata would include information such as the creator of the article, the date created, and the type of document.
Creating taxonomies and developing optimal metadata is quite difficult since our language has many ways of expressing the same or similar ideas, and each individual mentally organizes his or her thoughts in ways unique to their understanding and vocabulary. Each individual’s mental model differs from that of his colleagues’ in any organization. The importance of collaboration across the creation of any enterprise level taxonomy cannot be understated. Taxonomies are not the only structure of classification. Companies that require a broader level of classification could also consider ontologies. The difference between the two is that taxonomies deal only with hierarchal relationships, whereas ontologies include hierarchical, associative, and equivalency relationships. Depending on the business case, either can be used to achieve the desired levels of classification.
Business value from classification projects is achieved from providing access to and allowing the reuse of existing knowledge assets. The ability to find, share, and reuse these knowledge assets quickly adds value by shortening critical process cycle times and reducing costs. These enhancements can yield faster, better and more cost effective business decision making. On consumer facing projects, taxonomies and metadata can enhance virtual storefronts by improving search functionality. For internet databases, a strong taxonomy and metadata platform is necessary to allow users to easily find the information that they want, thus creating a reason for a user to return.
Iknow has deep expertise managing all parts of a taxonomy and metadata project, from the initial requirements gathering, to collecting information for the controlled vocabulary, to adhering to metadata standards such as Dublin Core. Classification is important in almost any knowledge management project, but is central to projects that include enterprise search, enterprise content management, business intelligence, and digital asset management. Iknow has completed a number of projects in taxonomy of different size and scale, including developing a taxonomy and metadata system for a government website to enhance search functionality.
The taxonomy, classification, and metadata management product landscape is complex and includes the following products. Iknow can help you evaluate and select the right software product to help you achieve your business objectives.