While it is easy to get lost in the many different labels and features used to describe enterprise collaboration, the fundamentals remain the same: to share information and ideas, to connect and communicate with our teams, and to find documents and expertise when we need them. Social collaboration tools have become an important layer underneath all of these fundamentals, and are a popular choice for organizations that want to track and measure productivity -- but they do not understand how a strong metadata and taxonomy strategy fits into the productivity conversation.
Metadata is fundamental to making social collaboration, knowledge management (KM), and enterprise content management (ECM) work.
The business dynamics of how Information Workers capture, consume, and interact with data are evolving -- but the fundamentals of what they want to accomplish have not changed. To some degree, social collaboration is just another layer of the search experience, allowing employees to easily create and enrich the connections between ideas, content, and people. At the center of all of this is metadata. Business stakeholders of SharePoint need to understand that metadata is foundational to everything they want to accomplish on the platform -- and social collaboration is often the primary source of this metadata. You could say that the volume of metadata created is a core measurement of productivity.
Let me explain.
When building any kind of ECM or KM solution, you use metadata to help define content and attributes, making everything searchable (and findable) within your system. The name of a document is one piece of metadata, as are the date created, author, project name, or any other attribute assigned to the artifact. As a way of cataloging documents and list items in SharePoint, simple taxonomies or dense hierarchical data structures can be built -- all with the goal of helping people find them again in the future, and relate them to associated artifacts. Some metadata and taxonomy creation and management can be streamlined and automated, but it generally requires a lot of up front work.
Social collaboration puts the wisdom of the community to work to help with this metadata creation and correlation. As content is shared, these social conversations, tags, links, or any other collaborative activity associated with the content becomes metadata, adding context (relevance) to the content. Instead of requiring people to select keywords from a drop down list (common to most taxonomy efforts) the metadata is generated through natural interactions between people as they share a document, and connect it to other content or people.
In other words, the creation of metadata through social interactions can be used as a productivity measurement. There is a powerful network effect that happens when organizations embrace social collaboration. The more people that participate, the more metadata that is created -- enriching the context around content.
As a result, there is an increase in the volume of content that is created, and because of the stronger contextual relationships generated through social activities, relevant content is more easily found.
For organizations that struggle with placing value on social within the enterprise, there are some "universal truths" that should be considered as you develop your collaboration strategy:
Measuring end user productivity is a difficult task to master. Most organizations begin by monitoring usage of their platforms so that they can better understand the features and tools that people gravitate toward, and those they avoid. From there, organizations can begin to understand how much of the collaboration experience should be automated -- and where social tools may help unlock value.
If your organization is interested in learning more about how social collaboration can improve your team and individual productivity, you need to take a look at the latest release from Beezy. Contact us as info@Beezy.net to schedule your demo today!
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