This is the tenth article in the series ‘The Art and Science of Taxonomy Development for Market and Competitive Intelligence’. Click here to view other articles.
A taxonomy exposes the underlying structure of the information in the organization and allows all users to access it in the overall context of the organization.
Taxonomy doesn’t exist in isolation. There is no right or wrong taxonomy. The context is set by the information to be managed, the users, and their use-cases. It has to be developed for the unique circumstances of your organization.
In addition to the principles discussed in these articles, there are a few additional points to consider that impacts the success of your taxonomy implementation.
1. Core Team
Establish a core team, which will develop and maintain the taxonomy for your organization, with representation from different teams. You will also need one champion sponsor from the leadership team to be a part of this team. Because an organization-wide taxonomy implementation requires significant change management, it won’t move forward unless someone from the leadership team drives the initiative wholeheartedly.
2. Measurable Success (ROI)
Start small by identifying a clearly defined use-case to establish the proof-of-concept (POC). The important criterion for this POC is that its ROI should be measurable. A good starting point is to first develop a measure of the current situation that you believe will change after the taxonomy implementation. One commonly used measure is the time spent on finding information. Unfortunately, it will be highly subjective and difficult to objectively measure the ROI of such efficiency improvement initiatives. In my experience, I’ve not come across any situation where this step is executed as a perfect science. However, unless the ROI is established, it will be difficult for anyone to convince the leadership team to implement an organization-wide information management system.
3. Folders and tags can co-exist
Users are comfortable in the world of folders, which is consistent with their physical-world experience — tax-returns go into the ‘Financials’ folder. It’s not immediately intuitive for the users to operate in a multi-dimensional world based on taxonomy, where the information is tagged from multiple perspectives but it isn’t put anywhere. Therefore, it’s important to help users to navigate this multi-dimensional world with the confidence and conviction that information (actionable intelligence) will be available to them when they need it the most. This can be achieved by combining the worlds of folders and taxonomy-based tags. For example, in Contify, even with some of the most advanced taxonomy features, we provide a centralized intelligence hub to drive faster access to insights relevant to specific teams using high-level folder-like structures.
The field of taxonomies is broad and multidisciplinary, and thus no single article could comprehensively cover the subject. This series of articles explains taxonomy from the perspective of managing information for market and competitive intelligence. For general knowledge about this topic, you may refer to Building Enterprise Taxonomies by Darin Stewart or The Accidental Taxonomist by Heather Hedden. The principles discussed in these articles are based on best practices and learnings from implementing market and competitive intelligence programs since 2009. I hope that these will help you to develop the right taxonomy for your organization.
Organizations with efficient information systems will outcompete the ones that have not yet accepted the strategic importance of information management in today’s digital world.
I’m the Founder and CEO of Contify — a market intelligence platform to track competitors and markets. I’m a practitioner of information systems and processes. I’m not a researcher. The information covered here is based on my experience of building taxonomies and implementing intelligence platforms across various organizations.