Don’t Enhance SharePoint
Transform It Through Metadata

SharePoint has matured over the past 13 years. What has changed? Enterprises are still affected by a volatile economy, burgeoning regulatory requirements and the overall challenge to do more with less. This is also evident in organizations’ use of SharePoint. Results from a Concept Searching survey found SharePoint is no longer relegated to just a departmental solution or a collaboration platform. Enterprises today face very serious challenges in compliance, potential data breaches and the spiraling costs and frequency of eDiscovery and litigation support. On the other side of the coin, collaboration has been elevated to the enterprise level; text analytics represents a growing need to achieve competitive advantages; and even social networking, slow to catch on, is now being adopted and blessed by executive management. These are the challenges SharePoint enterprises are facing. And the platform of choice is SharePoint.

Enterprises are not concerned about enhancing SharePoint, but solving their challenges and leveraging the technology to achieve business goals. With the Microsoft partner model, there is a plethora of vendor applications that address even the miniscule needs of enterprises. The question remains, is that enhancing SharePoint or adding layers to SharePoint? Where enterprises get off track is adding application layers to SharePoint to address a lack of native functionality. In many instances, they have no choice. They replicate the age-old approach and end up creating application silos that often have trouble communicating with each other. To enhance SharePoint, or by our definition, transform SharePoint, so that it is a business application enabler, we must leverage native features and augment them, not replace them.

Metadata as the Key

A lack of awareness of the importance of metadata is still highly prevalent. Metadata holds the key to solving a wide range of business challenges, such as search, records management, security, intelligent migration, eDiscovery and litigation support, text analytics and social networking. Metadata is the transforming component that can solve all these challenges. What is the crux of the problem? Overwhelmingly, manual metadata tagging is the primary method of tagging. The time has come for enterprises to expand their vision to facilitate and deploy intelligent metadata enabled solutions.

With the introduction of Managed Metadata Services and the Term Store in SharePoint 2010, organizations finally had a rudimentary method of creating and organizing metadata. Unfortunately, even with the release of SharePoint 2013, Microsoft has not yet provided any method of auto-classification, or robust management of the term sets. Primarily a manual process, this is a hurdle many organizations must overcome. Some are tackling it, some think it is too hard, and some just do not understand why metadata matters.

The optimal approach is to leverage native SharePoint features, and build an enterprise metadata repository that becomes the launch pad to solve the application challenges mentioned. Ideally, this would include the ability to automatically generate semantic metadata to populate the term sets. The second SharePoint shortcoming is the inability to auto-classify content from diverse repositories to the term sets, and again can be achieved as an added technology feature. With a taxonomy that integrates natively and bi-directionally with the SharePoint Term Store, management and testing can further refine the term sets to build a comprehensive content management solution.

The enterprise metadata repository becomes the enabler to extend SharePoint to solve a host of issues, and becomes the source from which all metadata applications flow. By implementing this approach to automate and fill the gaps in effectively managing metadata in SharePoint, enterprises can utilize one set of technologies to improve any application that requires the use of metadata.

The key priorities for SharePoint enterprises, now and in the future, all revolve around metadata. Applications that rely heavily on search, such as eDiscovery, litigation support and FOIA, can be immediately improved. On the security side, potential and unknown security exposures can be identified in real time and removed from unauthorized access and portability. Compliance issues are solved through the elimination of end-user tagging and the automatic declaration of documents of record. Intelligent migration migrates content based on the semantic metadata and classifies it to the term sets. Text analytics is a high priority and can be effectively accomplished by cleansing the data before analysis, and providing relevant metadata after to make informed business decisions.?Social networking is high on the agenda. A framework for applications can be deployed to present highly granular and precise information that cannot be achieved through SharePoint, Office 365, or Yammer.

The end result is a transformation of SharePoint into a business enabler. Leveraging the available functionality, and adding technologies that are integrated natively in SharePoint, protects enterprises’ financial investment and eliminates support staff or the need to deploy siloed applications. From the business operations perspective, the enterprise can improve business processes, identify and reduce risk, and ultimately make better decisions to support objectives. Managing and leveraging metadata within SharePoint transforms it into a business solution that affects the bottom line.

Concept Searching specializes in semantic metadata generation, auto-classification and taxonomy management, and has a Microsoft Gold Application Development competency. Its technologies encompass the entire portfolio of unstructured information, in on-premise, cloud or hybrid environments. Clients are using the technologies to improve search, records management, data privacy, migration and text analytics.

For more information: info-usa@conceptsearching.com or go to www.conceptsearching.com

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