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Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Power Of The Enterprise Taxonomy - Part I

3:01:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg , No comments
Large organizations are always grouped into smaller units, sub organizations which inevitably develop their own vocabularies and their own conceptual model of the enterprise. This creates barriers to communication, collaboration and knowledge exchange. Each unit sooner or later creates its own content silo.

An enterprise taxonomy – a system for naming and organizing the content into groups that share similar characteristics – can help to tear down these barriers. It can facilitate access, exploration and understanding of the digital content that exists within an organization. The taxonomy can make it possible to understand the organization at-a-glance by providing a high-level view of the organization as a whole.

As previously argued by Henrik, one must make a distinction between content architecture and information architecture, between the enterprise taxonomy and navigation taxonomies.

In Information Architecture, taxonomies are developed to facilitate search, navigation and presentation. Search engines look for keywords or words in content sources that match a search query, but people actually look for and explore concepts. This is where taxonomies come into the picture in Information Architecture. Every navigation scheme is based on one or several taxonomies. The dilemma is that there is not one single taxonomy that will organize content the way as all users expects it to be organized. So a single taxonomy will in most cases not be sufficient for creating a successful Information Architecture.

However, to develop a single enterprise taxonomy is fundamental in Content Architecture. Managing content begins with organizing it, and the enterprise taxonomy is a key organization tool. Once the content is organized in a consistent manner, any type of content from any content source can (theoretically) be integrated and made accessible throughout the organization. To be usable, the enterprise taxonomy can not be invented. Instead, it must be derived from the content that exists already in the organization. So before it can be developed, a content inventory has to be performed. Such an inventory will also create a better overview and understanding of the organization and each unit’s content.

My coming posts will tell you more about how to perform a content inventory and develop an enterprise taxonomy.

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