You’ve just been semanticized. Or, you might be if you’re a member of an organization that subscribes to Dow Jones Factiva. The information service known for the semantic tools it applies to its content, including its company, industry, region, and subject taxonomies, in order to surface relevant information in searches, sees an opportunity to increase its service’s value by considering the people part of the search picture.
“An important aspect of filtering is the human aspect,” says Greg Merkle, Factiva’s VP of Product Strategy & Design. “There are those who consume information and those who package and curate it. So we’ve developed a series of personas to understand the ecosystem of information inside the enterprise – how users connect, how they do their work, and so on.”
As Factiva aims to be more about awareness and monitoring vs. a pure research and search tool, it’s important for it to have insight into the meaning of individuals’ specific user roles, to know what they do at a deeper and more meaninful level than the general classification of them as information professionals or end users or, more recently, corporate knowledge worker.
Based on ethnographic research it conducted, it has created categories of personas that it expects will each see benefits as it evolves its monitoring framework to support their distinct needs for current knowledge awareness that, Merkle says, knowledge portals and collaborative tools aren’t fulfilling.
That includes individuals in these categories:
* The Compass, the strategic thinker, often an executive who dictates the research to do; the connector, who has both a voracious appetite for information but also loves to share it, whether or not it’s part of their job function;
* The Captain, who needs information to quickly make near-term tactical decisions;
* The Miner, who does the deep dive analysis into data, unstructured information, news and is concerned about it accuracy, credibility and provenance; and
* The Scout, akin to the traditional corporate librarian, responding to tactical needs and packaging up research for redistribution.
“It’s a combination of understanding users and almost classifying user types, but also understanding business goals and applying semantic tools very specifically with a very specific goal in mind and outcome,” says Merkle. Say, for example, you have a team doing SWAT analysis, he says, calling it a playground for semantic tools because it requires defining strengths, weaknees, opportunities and threats. “The idea is to understand how these personas play in how they participate in defining that, how the group organizes around what are the strengths and weaknesses,” he explains.
An initial solution the company has recently released is a beta tool called Snapshot into which companion modules will integrate. It’s aligned with Factiva for the iPad, so that actions performed there are immediately available on the iPad version as well. “It lets you build very rich information views based on searches and alerting, and it’s maturing into being powered by many other facets, like rich company lists,” he says.
“Another dimension of Snapshot was to centralize its footprint in the enterprise. Rather than releasing many products with lots of log-ins, the user experience idea was to consolidate into a single view so there is an interoperable view of content and capabilities.” Within this common framework are active views of what is going on among the different users. The idea is to make it seamless for all the user functions to collaborate and share a view in one format that also can be distributed via a mobile app, the goal being to get people off email for current knowledge awareness and onto the same page.
Merkle says Factiva has built some interesting metadata-powered news trending views for modules that sit inside Snapshot, including a summary view of things like top-occurring executives or companies in the news. “Rather than showing headlines we give a statistical glance into what goes on. So the derived data, the entities, the metadata shows itself as a premium feature adjacent to the headlines,” he says. “We can show derived data by region, by volume, and another really powerful view, by percent change – for example, to see a rising or fall trend. Those become statistically relevant. Say a relatively small company is mentioned two times last week and 20 times the week after. It would then probably fall off the radar if [tracking was] just pure volume, but the percent change creates a unique view into the world of smaller companies.”
Ultimately, Merkle says, trying to make sense of information flowing in and flowing through the enterprise is a technical problem but also a social and behavioral problem. “How do you attack it? There are so many dimensions, and just by putting the problem into some quantifiable and qualifiable categories helps customers.”
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