One Thesaurus to rule them all!

December 29, 2017
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Initially used for archive platform and document management, Thesauruses have become more and more useful in other applications used in companies. It is today a strategic point to standardise technical and brand languages. This approach contributes to coherence between different platforms and success in a company’s digital transformation.

Thesauruses are also a key element when it comes to issue documents outside the company, especially to take full advantage of search engine referencing.

we are still surprised by the absence of lexical standards among our customers.

Why setting up a DAM project requires a new thesaurus ?

To establish a thesaurus, we often start from nothing. This is surprising because organizations often developed projects related to knowledge management: record management, content management, e-commerce, marketing automation, SEO projects…

This shared repository should therefore exist. However, that is rarely the case, and we have to create it for the DAM project.


First of all, this can be explained from the nature itself of a DAM project: the content needs a minimum of metadata to be indexed whereas traditional database or GED can easily benefit from a strong search engine.

But with pictures and video, it is more complicated. Pattern recognition technologies are not performant enough yet. Therefore, we cannot spare metadata indexing involving a thesaurus.The other reason is probably due to a partition between services. Even if one team puts together a keyword nomenclature, it does not always share dictionaries with others. It is mainly explained by the disparity of semantic universes between departments. Everyone has their own language and terms. Technical services use a different vocabulary than marketing does. Convergence is therefore complex.

The DAM thesaurus has become the language referential for the brand. Is it really desirable?

Our data experts team systematically takes action to analyse the existing resources, advise the company and help them define their keyword references.

Therefore, the thesaurus created during the DAM Implementation will serve as its first reference.

This raises the question of the legitimacy of this new reality. Even if an important effort has been done in the DAM to establish this referential language, why not delegate its governance to a larger group? Indeed, a lot of departments could exploit those keyword lists. The communication departments need to harmonize language elements around the brand, while marketing departments will have to normalize keyword products for SEO, etc.

To a semantic referential centralization

A wise approach is to set referentials independent from the applications, to deal with all of the reference languages. New means exist today. They can be dedicated to content management and manage the terminology dissemination to other software. Therefore, the DAM, PIM, GED, CRM and others may take reference from it.

On the technical side, new semantic solutions based on the RDF norm are slowly appearing in companies. Initially devoted to information specialists, they have become more frequent. However, those databases called ‘triplestores’ are rare.

To set them up, you need technical knowledge. Those technologies are not yet standards. So you can feel a certain reluctance towards them.

This new paradigm also needs to prove its benefit. To be useful, you need to set up an interaction between the reference languages and your applications. The cost is important and the profits are uncertain..

Performance can also be an obstacle. By calling to external referentials, user experience can be extremely deteriorated.

Another important question is data governance. Who can manage and develop the global referential?

Before, services were independent in their keyword reference management. Tomorrow it will be necessary to share and discuss it.

The conquest for company metadata has started.

Welcome to the Chief Knowledge Officer

In the last few years, the chief knowledge officer (CKO) have established themselves in companies. Their role is to lead the knowledge management subjects in organizations. The organization and animation of the transverse thesaurus are completely in their fields of expertise. As company semantic guardians, the CKOs must follow up the pertinence of this new knowledge source.

Languages being alive in their nature, new terms are added, replaced and removed from existing terminologies. They have to adapt and change referentials following product reveals, terminologies evolutions in the line of business or the client tendencies. The CKOs will, of course, rely on experts to establish reference and work on synonymy and equivalence issues.

We, therefore, wish great success to all CKOs who will require agility in their management.

Interview with Thomas Larzillière - Keepeek CEO

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