I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

Folder Structure and Metadata – Why You Must Have Both

Bono’s lyrics from U2’s hit song describe his search for love, truth, and substance:

“I have run; I have crawled;
I have scaled these city walls . . .
and I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

The song’s lyrics may also be applicable for file searches for the right data at the right time. As demonstrated so well by cybersecurity researcher Chris Domas, whose TED Talk described a 30-hour search for malware code that resulted in finding an image of a kitten, hunting for the right data can be exhausting and fruitless.

You may already know 90% of the existing data in the world was created in the last two years. However, this year marks a milestone in the history of data: global internet traffic will exceed one zettabyte, increasing five-fold over the last five years. For comparison’s sake, we would need 100 floppy discs to hold one gigabyte of data and 100 trillion discs to hold a zettabyte. If we were to stack a zettabyte’s capacity in 5 ¼” discs on top of each other, they would almost reach the distance Voyager I is from Earth (~9.5 billion miles).

But the question isn’t, “How much data is enough for my business?” Rather, CIOs and CEOs should ask, “How can I protect my employees from data overload and keep them from using more data than they need to do their jobs well?”

How do you separate the useful data from the pictures of kittens? Part of the answer lies in finding precise data within the mountain of data, the proverbial needle in a mountain of needles.

Most people find information via two ways: searching and navigating. Robust search applications require metadata; finding content through navigation requires a consistent, enterprise folder structure. Ensuring users can deploy either method effectively is a critical success factor for any enterprise content management (ECM) implementation.

A large energy company we work with recently conducted a needs analysis in advance of their SharePoint 2010 deployment. One issue they had to resolve was whether users really need to navigate through internal document libraries, rather than just using metadata. The answer was a resounding and virtually unanimous YES; they need consistent document libraries across SharePoint sites.

Of course, they also want great search functionality and accuracy, so metadata is also needed. Further, many processes within the organization would benefit from automation, which makes the application of a robust metadata program essential.

That is the long answer. The short answer is yes, you need both metadata and navigable document libraries.

For today’s business to thrive, you need access to the right data at the right time to make the right decisions right now! Do not waste precious time and resources on tedious data searches. Plan to incorporate processes and applications that facilitate quick searches and navigation within your ECM strategy.

Finding your files in the future starts with planning and the right steps to ECM implementation today. Make sure you:

  • Find—locate all files and all copies in all locations.
  • Shrink—remove ROT (redundant, obsolete, trivial) files before you migrate.
  • Sort—determine classification parameters and algorithms so you can find all files.
  • Move—develop metadata tags for meaningful, comprehensive attribution to match your business and processes. Test the system before deployment.

Do you need a plan to quickly search for and navigate to pertinent business data? FileFacets can help!