It would be logical to assume that a highly successful Fortune 10 financial services company with almost 100,000 employees in over 120 countries would have considerable and consistent control of its business content. But that was not the case and there were valid reasons why.
Enjoying tremendous growth in large part due to acquisitions, this corporation’s data was highly decentralized. Full of old legacy systems and ways of doing business, their content across the global business units was unstructured and unshared. As the individual units migrated from their old brand to a stronger single brand strategy, it became increasingly clear from the corporate e-business perspective that there should be a singular content strategy as well.
Usability Services for Corporate e-Business offers information architecture and usability solutions to the entire corporation. Specifically, this single group is an in-house consultancy that provides services such as search and website evaluation. They provide tools and expertise to help their clients evaluate and design (or redesign) their sites from a user perspective regardless of their legacy. In addition, they have responsibility for their corporation’s website, e-mail marketing and SEO (search engine optimization) solutions.
Imagine that you are in the Philippines developing a website for this corporation’s unit in Vietnam. You could call the Corporate Usability Services Group for consulting, tools and advice on website construction, search and browse capabilities, SEO solutions and a wide range of related topics. All over globe, from EMEA and China to Europe and across the Americas, Usability Services would be your e-business development consultant.
Although the inefficiencies and costs of decentralized content and systems were not obvious to the field personnel, they were clear and important to the Director of Usability Services for Corporate e-Business. He decided to take a leadership role in this global content management challenge.
“We were ramping up for implementation of a new content management system and simultaneously planning the redesign of our corporate website. We knew that a taxonomy would be a major driving factor in those areas and also to improving our internal search capability,” he explains. “I knew we needed an expert so we called EIS.”
EIS workshops were held across the e-business group. Seth’s workshops helped raise the level of understanding not only about taxonomies but also about how and why having one would be important.
The Director was pleased with the participants’ reactions. “There was a broad range of expertise around taxonomy, search and content management. One unit was very good at working with search logs and updating their search engines with frequently used terms and creating synonym rings while other units were completely clueless. The people who were clueless found it interesting and wanted to know more. The people who were more knowledgeable were glad to see that other people were thinking about content issues too especially at the corporate level.”
EIS also conducted interviews within and outside corporate to understand more about how content was being searched and used and how that fit into the business strategies.
After detailed analysis of the data including the implementation of tools, which are part of his methodology, Seth compiled a preliminary report and what the director describes as ‘a high level road map along with a list of viable corporate facets’.
“I was really looking for the taxonomy on a corporate level for people to understand that they need to structure and tag their content so that it can be shared across lines of business. And we got that,” he explains.
The e-business group is moving forward with the implementation of their content management strategy based on the work delivered by the EIS team. They are realistic in thinking that this is a long-term strategic effort that will result in improvements over several years.
There has been significant positive impact in the very short term, however. The Director reports that having a taxonomy has given the group’s vision higher credibility because it is based on a methodology and a clear a path to get there.
“Having this taxonomy ended any sort of arguments and discussions because we had something solid to work with. It wasn’t just a lump of clay; it was actually a formed vase or structure. That made it easy so we could just move forward and concentrate on the next steps.”
As plans shape for next year, the taxonomy will be tested and refined from both internal and external perspectives. “The biggest improvement we are hoping for is on ‘Search’. The current search does not perform very well and that’s going to be a big thing because is user’s gateway to the content,” remarks the Director.
Over and above the expected internal and external benefits of the taxonomy, e-business expects a big business value win. With the structured content management systems and tools, millions of hits a day will be impacted by improving search and navigation. For example, millions of incremental dollars a year could be generated by improving access to even just one product like auto insurance. Providing equally excellent access to other products could leverage literally millions in incremental revenue and substantially more qualified leads worldwide.