Here's why I think so:
- Knowledge is linked. While search can identify physical connections between information, it cannot show qualitative relationships.
- Knowledge is contextual. Search cannot identify the contextual significance of information.
- Knowledge is valuable. Search by itself can't show value -- it needs 'intelligence' to decide value.
BTW, what is metadata?
"Metadata is a concept that applies mainly to electronically archived data and is used to describe theIn today's post I want to outline the power of metadata for your enterprise knowledge platform. Hopefully, you can use this as a guide to choose your knowledge platform if you're at that stage of your journey.
of data files..." - Wikipedia
The Power to Relate InformationThe ability to show relationships between information, is key for knowledge platforms. A lot of systems do this through tags. On learninggeneralist.com, you'll notice that there's a 'label list' on the website that relates articles about similar topics. If you've used social bookmarking, you'll notice that we categorise information under tags. On enterprise systems, collective tagging helps relationships and structure emerge. It then becomes easy for people to look at a certain tag, to reveal all information possibly connected to it. For example, I've tagged my favourite enterprise 2.0 case studies here. This holds great potential for induction, onboarding and capability building.
The Power to Show Value and AppropriatenessWhen everyone has the power to create useful information, everyone also has the power to create havoc through inappropriate contributions and misinformation. This is a risk that most execs are concerned about. Enterprise 2.0 systems mitigate this through 'more eyeballs looking'. We want users to have the power to say how valuable or suitable a contribution is. You must have seen several ways of doing this on the web.
- Favourites - if a lot of people 'favourite' an article, then it's perhaps valuable.
- Thumbs up or down - similar to favourites, except the thumb down can indicate if an article is unsuitable.
- Flagging - allows you to flag items as inappropriate.
- Rating scales - a quantitative way to suggest the value of specific content.
The Power to Contextualise Information
"Information in context, trumps information out of context." - Karl KappDr. Kapp's quote is a clear indication of why enterprise 2.0 systems are becoming the rage today. The ability to find useful, bite-sized information just when you need it is indeed the killer advantage. The ability to further contextualise this information makes it more relevant to the user's situation. On the web, we see this context emerge through comments. Take a look at blogs and associated comments for example. Free-form comments serve a number of purposes:
- They allow users to show their reactions to the content.
- They allow users to give feedback about the content. e.g. "I used this technique at work and ..." or "Here's another perspective..." or "I want to add that..."
- They allow other users to use the content effectively. User commentary gives different perspectives and much needed context for the information in question.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of metadata on enterprise knowledge systems. As you can see, the right kind of metadata can make your knowledge infrastructure come alive! I strongly believe that a knowledge platform based only on search is similar to putting lipstick on a pig! To make your knowledge come alive, you need users to contribute through low friction means. Comments, ratings, tagging create low barrier methods to make sure this happens. So do think about these elements when choosing your knowledge platform. Dinesh Tantri knows a lot more about these things than me, so do follow his blog here. Hope you enjoyed this post, please let me know what you think -- your comments are always valuable!