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SharePoint governance: Is semantic technology the answer?

The second thing I learned from my exploration of SharePoint is that semantic technology and basic indexing are woven through SharePoint's various functions. A number of specialized software companies focus on indexing SharePoint content, identifying entities in SharePoint documents, and adding bells and whistles to the built-in SharePoint document processing services.

Companies delivering semantic payloads include Concept Searching, Smartlogic, SurfRay and Access Innovations, to name four with quite advanced text processing tools for unstructured information. However, SharePoint tools are available from giants like EMC and Fujitsu to somewhat smaller firms such as Idera and K2. A thriving ecosystem of vendors has emerged to assist with this facet of SharePoint governance.

A third take away is that SharePoint is finding its way into a great many organizations. It seems SharePoint has been deployed without much understanding of what happens when content is stuffed into SharePoint. Most of the system administrators are not specialists in semantic content analysis, controlled term development and usage, and editorial procedures. Once SharePoint is available, the need for those information basics increases dramatically.

SharePoint governance is becoming a distinct line of business, and the phrase has particular meanings. SharePoint is not MS DOS, as my European colleague posited. SharePoint is a microcosm of an information's knowledge. The buzzword "governance" is little more than an old and difficult problem of managing the information, tacit knowledge and informal communications that give life to an organization.

Semantic methods are going to be an important part of SharePoint governance. But semantics will not address some of the more difficult challenges arising from workflows used to create and access information, ensuring speedy and comprehensive system performance, and enforcing the essential security and regulatory functions that organizations must observe and then enforce consistently.

How important will SharePoint be? I think it may well be one of the most significant enterprise software platforms in the foreseeable future.   But Francis Ford Coppola allegedly said, "Anything you build on a large scale or with intense passion invites chaos."

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