Integrating Taxonomy with CMS – Book Chapter in Publication

The final draft has been submitted… Mark your calendars…

The Information Management Best Practices 2009 book is going to publication this week, in hopes of being ready for launch at the J.Boye Conference in Aarhus, Denmark, Nov 2-4. I’ll be there, giving a talk on SharePoint IA, but also to lend a hand with the book launch activities.

I’m proud to have a chapter in this book, with co-authors Seth EarleyCharlie Gray (CMS & Taxonomy Strategist, Motorola), on one of our most in-depth and successful projects – integrating taxonomy with CMS at Motorola. The best practice covers the steps below in great detail, offering practical advice and screenshots from the actual implementation at Motorola.


  • Step 1: Educate Stakeholders on Taxonomy
  • Step 2: Bring a Taxonomy Expert onto your CMS Implementation Team
  • Step 3: Determine Functional Requirements Continue reading

Taxonomy in Extreme Places

How often do you get to be immersed in a completely alien work environment?

As a taxonomist, I get to learn about so many different domains through my work, from mouse genetics to greeting card manufacturing. Each company has its interesting quirks and workplaces…Like the toy manufacturer, whose workers had their cubicles adorned with all sorts of inspiration and materials: multi-colored fur, googly-eye collections, pictures of themsleves as superheroes…

But this week, I got to experience something completely different.

We just started a content strategy project with a semiconductor equipment manufacturer which aims to help their service groups (the folks who fix the machines) get the right information at the right time. This is an interesting project involving issues around technical writing and information architecture (DITA), integration across many different knowledge systems and databases, and getting information to users in a less than hospitable environment – the clean room.

A clean room is essentially a manufacturing or research facility that has low levels of environmental pollutants, such as dust and microbes. Pollutants are kept to a minimum through air filtering and circulation, as well as a strict dress code involving what are “lovingly” referred to as “bunny suits“. A clean room suit involves:

  • Glove liners
  • Rubber gloves x 2
  • Hair/beard net
  • Face mask
  • Shoe covers
  • Coveralls
  • Hood
  • Booties
  • Safety glasses

You get dresImagesed in a specific sequence so as to reduce contamination… first being the glove liner, rubber glove #1, hairnet, face mask, and shoe covers. Then you enter a second room where you add the hood, coverall, booties, rubber glove #2 and safety glasses. You then walk over some sticky paper into an air lock, where you are blasted with some air, and you’re now ready for the clean room.

Two minutes in a bunny suit and you gain a quick appreciation for the difficulties inherent to working in such an environment. It’s hot under all those layers, you have poor peripheral vision in the hood, the glasses constantly get fogged up from your breath under the mask, and it’s hard to walk. (Well, I have to admit that the “hard to walk” part is probably because I was wearing high-heels in my booties – ill-advised and embarassing! I also made the newbie mistake of taking a cough drop before putting on my mask, and I ended up breathing menthol air into my eyes and fighting back tears the whole time.)

But if I’ve set the scene up appropriately, you can start to imagine the challenges inherent to knowledge work in this environment. First of all,Image it’s hard to get access to information – carrying around a laptop is difficut, your hands are slippery, there’s nowhere to set it down in this lab, nowhere to plug it in… Even if you did find a place for it, you can’t use a track pad when you are wearing 3 layers of gloves – it’s hard to type and the gloves don’t create enough friction for the pad to capture movement. You might use a tablet and stylus, but there are holes in the floor, so if you drop it… You might use a handheld device, but again with gloved hands good luck typing on that tiny keypad, and the screen is much too small to show detailed tool schematics. You don’t have access to the internet, so all the information has to be available on the machine, and there are hundreds of parts for each machine.

Add the next layer: search, systems and content structure. These folks currently have to search across mutliple systems to try to find documentation on specific problems… starting with the original manual, which is likely for the product as it was shipped, not as it was configured at the client site. There are multiple databases where there might be troubleshooting tips or solutions, but you have to check them individually. The content is not well tagged or structured, so if you do find a document that might be useful, it’s typically a gigantic PDF that you have to comb through.

As you can see, this is a challenging problem: how do you get the right information (the right amount of it) in a way that is well structured and accessible to them in the clean room environment? What part of it involves structured writing in XML vs. system integration vs. taxonomy and metadata and how do we pull all those pieces together to offer a simple interface to a service professional?

We’ll be working on this project for the coming weeks, so I’ll keep you posted on the conclusions and insights. But in the mean time, I’m sure this will probably be my personal “one to top” in terms of taxonomizing in extreme places. Perhaps I’ll beat it if we ever do any work with cave spelunkers, submarines, or NASA…

Share your extreme taxonomy stories in the comments!

Photo credits:

Ensuring Cross Channel Consistency in Brand Management

“Having the people,systems and governance in place to facilitate a cross channel view of marketing assets and customer experience is a critical challenge many organizations are facing”

Laura Keller, Strategist at MISI company

Silos Revisited

In many organizations the responsibility for creating marketing assets is decentralized and siloed by channel. One group is working on email marketing, another on web commerce, others on social media and still other groups on more traditional print and broadcast. Without solid governance and systems to support a view across these channels, companies are missing a tremendous opportunity to:

  1. Re-use marketing assets
  2. Realize value from cross channel synergies
  3. Evaluate the consistency and quality of marketing assets

A great deal of  time and money is wasted creating new assets because of a lack of awareness of existing assets.  Assets also need to be managed across channels in order to maintain consistency and measure effectiveness of programs and maximize impact from spend.  Any organization engaging in cross channel marketing programs will benefit from core tools and approaches that, when put into place, can improve response times and save money.

A centralized repository of marketing assets that is supported by consistent organizing principles (taxonomy) is a requirement for facilitating cross channel views and re-use of assets. Unfortunately, the following scenarios are all too common. Continue reading

Presentation Zen – Slideshare’s Nemesis?

I’ve been thinking a lot about powerpoint styles lately… Fall conference season is soon approaching and I have to build a bunch of presentations. However, I recently read Slide:ology and now I’m tormented:

Do I make it useful or pretty?
Do I go for presentation eye candy or pithy leave behinds?

If you’ve read any of the Powerpoint philosophical treatises (e.g. Presentation Zen or Slide:ology – both great books), you’ve learned that MUCH less is more when it comes to slides. Use lots of images. Use few words (there’s a range of opinion between 5 words and 3 bullet points). If you’ve perused presentations by some of the conference gurus out there, you’ll see that a lot of them are largely just an image with a handful of words at most. Picture of a tree, picture of some birds, picture of a frustrated office worker…

Continue reading

Taxonomy Bootcamp 2009… A regular smorgasboard

Looking for a good way to spend a week in the California sun and learn more about taxonomy, search and knowledge management? Look no further than the triple-slam event of the fall conference season:

Taxonomy Bootcamp / KM World / Enterprise Search Summit West
Register today with our discount code to save 200$!

Mark your calendars, cause we have a full slate of taxonomy-related presentations this year, including:

Workshop: Taxonomy Implementation & Integration (Seth Earley & Stephanie Lemieux)
Date: November 16, 2009 – 9:00 – 12:00
Come hear Seth & I talk about how some of the companies we’ve worked with have been able to implement their taxonomies and integrate them with WCM, ECM and digital asset management systems among others. Hear about practical applications of taxonomy within different classes of tools as well as technical integration challenges (hierarchy challenges, build-vs-buy issues, etc.).

Workshop: SharePoint Information Architecture: Integrating Taxonomy & Metadata (Stephanie Lemieux & Shawn Shell)
Date: November 16, 2009 – 1:30 – 4:30
My friend Shawn Shell and I will cover the ups and downs of trying to build taxonomy and metadata frameworks in SharePoint – a tool with a distinct handicap when it comes to hierarchical metadata and search relevancy. We’ll talk about 3rd party add-ons that can help with tagging, taxonomy and faceted search.

Session: SharePoint Information Architecture: Integrating Taxonomy & Metadata (Jeff Carr & Stephanie Lemieux)
Date: November 19, 2009 – 1:15 – 2:00
If you can’t make it for the workshop, don’t miss this condensed version giving highlights on how to achieve taxonomy in SharePoint. We’ll cover a couple of case studies here as well, and give a quick overview of add-ons.

Session: Best Bet ROIs: We’ve Seen It All (Panel) (Seth Earley)
Date: November 19, 2009 – 3:30 – 4:15 EST
This panel of content management problem-solvers shares their experiences and perspectives of successfully determining the return on investment for folksonomy, taxonomy, and ontology initiatives

Session: Increasing Traffic by Integrating Taxonomy & SEO (Panel) (Jeff Carr)
Date: November 19, 2009 – 3:15 – 4:00 EST
Jeff is taking part in a fun panel format where speakers get just a few slides and a few minutes to make their point… Hear about how taxonomy is an important factor in many SEO ranking signals.

And if you’re not in info overload yet…

Session: Folksonomies: Beyond the Folks Tales (Panel) (Stephanie Lemieux)
Date: November 20, 2009 – 10:40 – 11:15
Join me for a panel that promises to be fun and informative, where Tom Reamy (KAPS) and I will go head to head on the merits and applications of Folksonomies.

This year promises to be a great show – join us in San Jose this November to chat about all things taxonomy, folksonomy, ontology, and any other “onomy” or “ology” you care to bring to the table. Use this link for a 200$ discount.

Special shout out to the TaxoCoP members – we’ll be sure to organize a get together for those of you who’ll be onsite.