No, No, No

WAND is a US-based taxonomy development company which essentially builds taxonomies and vocabularies for internet applications. If you want to set up an e-commerce site you can get WAND to build a taxonomy for you, or you can buy one.

Now they seem to have decided to get into the enterprise taxonomy act. What’s wrong with the statement in this press release announcing their new taxonomy for enterprise use?

“WAND’s new business vocabulary provides a four-level hierarchy of important business terminology covering human resources, accounting and finance, sales and marketing, legal, and information technology. The vocabulary includes all the core business concepts that any company has to deal with and can be extended and customized to include company specific terminology.”

Urgh. If you’re starting a company from ground up this approach might work. If you are a typical-generic-US company and want to use the WAND taxonomy as a reference taxonomy for building your own, it might work. But installing this and expecting you can let it loose in any corporate environment to deliver its information retrieval needs with just a few minor tweaks? No way. If WAND think this can work for their customers, then they are not as experienced in enterprise taxonomy work as they would like to have you believe. If they know it’s not as easy as the press release makes out then they are clearly in the magic bullet business and not to be trusted.

2 Comments so far

Mark Leher

Hi Patrick,

Thanks for commenting on our press release. We are not suggesting that this taxonomy simply plugs right in and solves all of your problems.  Clearly, the customization of the taxonomy is an important step. However, we do believe that taxonomy adds a tremendous amount of value to enterprise search. We also have a lot of experience that shows us that companies struggle to start a taxonomy from scratch and it is much more efficient to have a seed taxonomy to start with.  We created this taxonomy to provide that seed. The pricing we have established for this vocabulary is truly a very small investment to get a taxonomy program kick-started.

I’d be happy to discuss this with you more at any time.

Posted on July 10, 2008 at 11:46 PM | Comment permalink

Patrick Lambe

Thanks for picking this up Mark. If it’s a “seed” taxonomy approach then that should really come across in the press release. It is extremely easy for an uninformed person (and many taxonomy buyers are sadly uninformed) to assume that this product will solve their enterprise taxonomy needs.

I react so strongly because I have seen so many cases where people have bought the product based on a “we’ll solve your problems” sales pitch (whether it’s a pre-built taxonomy or a “we’ll build the taxonomy automatically for you” software) and then discovered too late that it just doesn’t deliver what they need.

It is both important and responsible to communicate the need for the client to understand their own current business vocabulary and ways of organising - before they decide whether the pre-built taxonomy suits their needs, whether it will function as a seed taxonomy, or whether it will serve as a reference taxonomy to build their own with.

Buyers of taxonomies are often just dumped with the task without any guidance or help (as you probably know). The consequences and costs of getting it wrong are high impact - speaking from experience as someone who is sometimes called in after the fact to try and clean up the mess.

Granted, this is just a press release, you may have other education and awareness activity going on behind your sales… but every time I see something that suggests the whole process can be made easy, all my hackles go up.

Posted on July 11, 2008 at 09:41 AM | Comment permalink

Page 1 of 1 pages

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.

Comment Guidelines: Basic XHTML is allowed (<strong>, <em>, <a>) Line breaks and paragraphs are automatically generated. URLs are automatically converted into links.