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How the World Bank built an enterprise taxonomy -- a story with a happy ending


How the World Bank built an enterprise taxonomy -- a story with a happy ending Denise A. D. Bedford, Ph.D. Senior Information Officer World Bank – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: How the World Bank built an enterprise taxonomy -- a story with a happy ending

How the World Bank built an enterprise taxonomy
-- a story with a happy ending
  • Denise A. D. Bedford, Ph.D.
  • Senior Information Officer
  • World Bank
  • ASIST Potomac Valley Chapter presentation
  • November 19, 2003

  • Im going to use a traditional Knowledge
    Management tool tonight to tell you how we built
    our enterprise taxonomy storytelling
  • My goal in using this approach is to illustrate
    the technical, information architecture and the
    social aspects of such an undertaking
  • It will also allow me to speak to some of the
    critical foundation elements and milestones in
    the process
  • It would not be truthful for me to tell you a
    story about how one day we defined our
    enterprise-taxonomy, and the next day we all
    lived happily ever after!
  • Id like to take you back to the world of
    medieval fiefdoms many systems, many rules,
    different sets of laws, different languages and

Once upon a time
  • We had many different financial systems, multiple
    document management systems, 100s of searchable
    resources, and a number of gaps in coverage of
    our information assets
  • Then a wise and foreseeing Chief Information
    Officer and President helped us to establish a
    stable, standard institutional platform for our
    institutional collections (our modern day
    Alexander the Great)
  • This meant that instead of having multiple
    financial systems, human resource systems, and
    document management systems, we had one to suit
    each function (first thoughts of unification
  • And, the wise counselors advised them to select
    systems that functioned on a common operating
    system - Oracle (we agree to talk to establish
    lines of communication and send ambassadors)
  • Enterprise begins to think of systems at an
    enterprise level this is a crucial
    organizational culture aspect to implementing an
    enterprise taxonomy

Consolidation of Business System Fiefdoms
  • Before the dawn of the Knowledge Age, we had many
    different business systems
  • Each business system had its own (or no)
    metadata, classification schemes, indexes, search
  • When we standardized our primary business
    systems, we merged those different taxonomies
    into enterprise taxonomies
  • In this first step, we still had multiple
    business systems, but one per business function

Laying Out the Information Empire
  • Once we had established a common communication
    foundation, the people in those different
    fiefdoms began to talk to one another and a
    cultural change began to occur
  • The idea of having one business system to
    support a business function was accepted by the
  • Now we find we have many different kinds of
    taxonomies accounting structures, business
    functions/process/task taxonomies, product
    taxonomies, taxonomies of job classes, skills
    taxonomies, organizational taxonomies, personnel
    profiles, etc.
  • We built taxonomies in these business function
    systems as we were implementing them - designed
    to suit business functions and the people who
    were administering the systems, not necessarily
    end users
  • Start to understand important of usability and
    end-user training

From Business to Information Systems
  • Then a wise counselor (information architect) had
    a vision of a common enterprise-document
    management system
  • When we began looking for such a system, though,
    the commercial products were not up to snuff in
    terms of our requirements
  • We developed our own in-house system portions
    of which were/were not using the common
  • The wise counselor had another vision of an
    integrated enterprise information system that
    would support a single point of access to all the
    information within the information empire
  • This was the spark that set a the goal for an
    integrated enterprise architecture and taxonomy,
    though we were not sure we could actually achieve

Document Management Systems
  • Document management system was like a cathedral
    that held the church network together smaller
    churches represented the units contributing to
    the system
  • Document management system architecture was a
    little bit different, though
  • Took many years to convince the little churches
    to send their offerings to the cathedral so they
    could become part of the larger network
  • Each church could maintain their own filing
    structures which served the creators not the
  • Eventually they agreed to use a common prayer
    book common filing structure
  • Churches can speak different languages but they
    all have to be able to communicate

Document vs. Information Management Systems
  • Caution here goals of document and records
    management systems are to store and preserve
    information from the perspective of those who
    created the information
  • End user access is not a primary goal of these
    kinds of systems
  • Taxonomies that you put in place for these kinds
    of systems dont necessarily serve end users
  • Kinds of taxonomies organization filing
    structures, record series for retention
    dispositioning, economic sector and impact
    categories, some minimal metadata is beginning to
    emerge, though
  • These taxonomies serve filing and storage goals,
    not the information access goal of our enterprise

Renaissance Creativity Explodes
  • While we were making good progress in
    synchronizing different kinds of taxonomies in
    all of these business areas, a creative
    renaissance of knowledge creation and sharing
  • In about 1997, we launched a knowledge management
    initiative, using Lotus Notes databases to
    support collaboration and document libraries
  • Knowledge management was a cultural change in
    itself creativity of organizational units was
    encouraged and heightened
  • It was a very important source of cultural change
    within the institution beginning of a
    transformation to a learning organization
  • It meant that the masses could become interested
    in taxonomies

Renaissance Creativity Explodes
  • Proliferation of writing, publishing and
    organizing of information
  • Déjà vu all over again creativity took the form
    of user-defined metadata, publishing and
    navigation taxonomies
  • These taxonomies were different from any of the
    taxonomies we had seen before reflected the new
    thematic structure of the KM organization
  • In some respects there was more confusion because
    they were talking about different kinds of
    taxonomies but trying to fit them into the same
  • We began some internal QuickStart educational
    sessions on metadata, taxonomies, search,
    semantic web, etc. to provide a framework

Popular Information Revolution
  • So now we have several business process systems,
    a decentralized document management system,
    knowledge management system and there is a
    popular uprising the web
  • Many web towns are created - 100s of web sites,
    1000s of web pages
  • No central coordination of virtual villages
  • Too many different places to go to look for
    information going back to the medieval
    monastery network systems
  • Masses begin to surface their discontent with the
    quality of access and the quality of information
    that is being published
  • Realization among the masses that not all of the
    quality information assets are electronic or
    publicly available

Popular Information Revolution
  • Begins to look like the Dark Ages again - no
    profiles, no taxonomies, no controlled
    vocabularies or values
  • Different systems have different profiles,
    different taxonomies, controlled vocabularies or
    values, indexes, search systems
  • We start to see information pollution
    alchemists and court jesters come back onto the
    scene advocating magical approach to
    discovering the enterprise architecture
  • But, we didnt give up we kept working on the
    components of the infrastructure in the
  • We knew that the day would come when they would
    be needed and that day came

Rationalism Enlightenment
  • Wise counselor returns to bring back sense of
    rationalism and enlightenment
  • Counselor commissions a synthesis of content
    types across systems, standard metadata scheme,
    and the rejuvenation of the World Bank Thesaurus
  • Content of the information is what we focus on
    for integration
  • Information architecture then derives from our
    kinds of content
  • Synthesis and integration work outside of
    existing systems, but leverages all the work that
    is done within the business systems
  • Metadata is the central structure (faceted
  • Reference sources for each facet support the
    governance and quality control (flat,
    hierarchical and network taxonomy structures)

Scientific Revolution Industrialization
  • About this time, the visionary counselor begins
    to lay the work for a superhighway connecting all
    information systems using the integrated
    enterprise taxonomy as a blueprint
  • Content type proposal enterprise-wide review of
    kinds of information is completed and accepted by
    Information Architecture Committee
  • Establishment of Bank standard metadata
    deriving from existing metadata across systems
  • Long-term search strategy proposed and submitted
    to Information Architecture Committee
  • Simplified Enterprise Taxonomy for topics is
    formed looking across all systems and looking
    to the systems that are used by our partners

Space Travel - Portals
  • The wild and crazy growth of the external website
    of the Bank, as well as the need to create a new
    internal web services platform raised awareness
    of the value of an integrated enterprise taxonomy
  • You need some predictability in the source and
    target systems before you can syndicate content
    from an SAP BW cube, a newsfeed source, a DM
    system, an RM system, Archives, and the InfoShop
    to a project portal or to a personal portal, they
    all need to have a common point of reference
  • The portal team tried the vendors suggested
    approach create and implement simple new
    hierarchies and use them throughout the portal
  • The enterprise taxonomy actually becomes the
    technical and information infrastructure of the
    portal metadata repository, global navigation
  • Taxonomies also now must be an integral part of
    the content that you are creating in the portals
    and in the systems that provide content to the

Back to Communications
  • Vision of a whole-Bank search one place to go
    to find information in any of the Banks systems,
    speaking any of the languages of our clients
  • Vision involved having a search engine that spoke
    the Banks business language and the languages of
    our clients another kind of taxonomy
  • We had a print-based topical thesaurus which
    needed to be updated and expanded to reflect the
    Banks business in 2000 (moved this from 10,xxx
    terms in 1997 to 92,xxx in 2003)
  • Same time the Translations Department was
    implementing a new parallel translation system
    which leverages multilingual and cross-language
  • Translations Department glossaries focus on
    business functions, WB Thesaurus focuses on
    topics integration and cross-population now in

  • Policy on Information Disclosure (2002) approved
    by the Board of Executive Directors required that
  • develop a metadata based, cross-system Catalog to
    surface disclosed and disclosable documents for
    the external public user
  • put in place a system that would support the
    capture and tracking of disclosure requests in
    the future and record changes in disclosure
  • This effort funded the first release of
    whole-Bank search
  • Disclosed and disclosable documents lived in all
    of those systems above and were not tagged with
    their disclosure conditions or status
  • In order to deliver WB Catalog, we had to
    integrate all of those taxonomies described above
    as well as the long-term search strategy

Information Universe
  • Lets jump to the 21st century Enterprise
    Content Architecture and Enterprise Content
  • All those taxonomies we worked on for the past 15
    years are now integral components of the
    enterprise content architecture
  • Were finding that these taxonomies are critical
    to efficient and effective use of portal
  • Allows us to shift the focus to information
    content, metadata management, taxonomies, search,
    access, security, disclosure.
  • Now the impetus is to bring them all under
    central control so that they can be managed and
    used by systems across the enterprise
  • Lets see what the enterprise taxonomy looks like
    today, its content, how we maintain and manage it

Information Universe
  • We realize that we really do want to work and
    travel in a 21st century universe of information
  • Space travel is not magical, but is based on good
    engineering and maintenance
  • Managers need to understand that quick fixes and
    solutions do not result in sustainable systems,
    but rather result in significant investment
  • A multi-dimensional design approach supports
    flexibility, extensibility, and customization
  • We can view our information universe from several
    different perspectives
  • Individual systems landscape
  • A technical architecture landscape
  • Users view of the enterprise taxonomy
  • An information architecture landscape
  • All of these views make up our Enterprise Content
    Architecture and allow us to move to the next
    step Enterprise Content Management

Systems Architecture
World Bank Catalog/ Enterprise Search
Site Specific Searching
Publications Catalog
Recommender Engines
Personal Profiles
Portal Content Syndication
Browse Navigation Structures
Metadata Repository Of Bank Standard
Metadata (Oracle Tables Indexes)
Reference Tables Topics, Countries Document
Types (Oracle data classes)
Transformation Rules/Maps
Data Governance Bodies
Metadata Extract
Metadata Extract
Metadata Extract
Metadata Extract
Metadata Extract
Metadata Extract
Doc Mgmt System
Web Content Mgmt. Metadata
SAP Financial System
People Soft
JOLIS Metadata
InfoShop Metadata
Concept Extraction, Categorization
Summarization Technologies
Technical View of the Enterprise Architecture
Content Contributor
End User
Content Systems
Metadata Management and Security Services
Content Management Services
Content Access Services
access rules
multilingual srch
check in/out
retention schedule
reference data
Content Integration and Archives Services
Concept extraction
rules evaluator
data dic.
SAP (R/3, BW)
Notes / Domino
Archives Store
Over Time
Metadata warehouse
Documents, Images, Audio, Data records
People Soft
Repositories Services
Business Systems
Users View of the Enterprise Taxonomy
Information Architecture
Content Type
Bus. Activity
Bank Standard Metadata by Purpose
Identification/ Distinction
Search Browse
Compliant Document Management
Use Management
Taxonomies in Action
  • Metadata in Fielded Search Faceted Taxonomy
  • Topics Taxonomy Shallow Hierarchy
  • Business Activity Taxonomy Deep Hierarchy
  • Organizational Taxonomy Faceted Taxonomy
  • Country Region Taxonomy Hierarchy
  • Thesaurus in Search Faceted Taxonomy
  • Disclosure Status Flat Taxonomy

Top Tier Content Type Examples
  • Documents in IRIS, ImageBank, IRAMS
  • Data in BW, DEC SIMA queries in central, regional
    agency databases, CDF indicators, GDF data
    reports, .
  • Publications in JOLIS, Office of Publisher,
    Thematic Group databases
  • Communications in External Affairs, Office of
    President, DEC, IRIS
  • People Communities in YourNet, PeopleSoft,
  • Knowledge in Notes databases, Oral History
  • Services in WB Yellow Pages, Service Portal,
  • Collections in EIU database, Oxford Analytica

Lessons Learned
  • You can change some of the information
    architecture, but some of it you will have to
    adapt or map
  • Business functions are the most critical for
    standardizing to single business taxonomy the
    move towards standardization has to come from
  • Map business system taxonomies to enterprise
    taxonomies - help the business system owners to
    see the value of being part of an enterprise
    taxonomy (no value, no buy in)
  • Expect change and be ready to integrate and map,
    but educate your users to alert you to changes
    make it possible for them to work with you
  • Do outreach and consciousness raising (QuickStart
    programs on metadata, taxonomies 101, search
    engines, semantic engines,

Lessons Learned
  • Move forward on the end user front while youre
    working on the backend when people can see the
    actual value they will buy in (now no one wants
    to be left out of the WB Catalog now we created
    it, so they are coming)
  • Have to have a goal and a vision you will never
    succeed at creating an enterprise taxonomy if you
    dont know why youre doing it
  • We are putting in place an enterprise
    architecture based on well-defined and managed
    taxonomies that are used within and by internal
  • This gives us flexibility to build different
    products and views for end users, while
    internally managing our information assets