Last night, when I heard that Steve Jobs passed away, I also heard for the first time a quote from his 2005 commencement address to Stanford, it read:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.”
His untimely death and that quote kept me awake last night. I tossed, turned, and I got up and looked out the window, thinking; connect the dots, connect the dots, connect the dots.
It was not the first time this issue came up. Over last few years, I often asked myself, “What am I doing?” I heard back, “it’s too big” or “don’t bite off more than you can chew” or the worst “how are you going to compete with IBM, Oracle or SAP?” But I woke up and did the same thing over again day after day (is that the sign of something?). Yes, it is. Creating taxonomies and controlled vocabularies are quite fun. It’s starting and agreeing on terms is the chore.
Where are we now?
We have all been there, a place where technology crapped out and human intervention was required. That is not a bad thing mind you, but with all the advances over the past few years, why? Why was a manual upload required? Why was a cut and past needed? Why did I have to go to two screens, or even worse two platforms to get two numbers that had to be added together and then included in an Excel document, then emailed to my manager?
Content complexity is getting worse, not better
You can go to almost any company today and find untethered content, content gaps, and search and findability problems. You can go to any company today, and people may get the information they need, but often needs to wade through report after report cull it, and create a new report before sending it along via email.
People have been talking about the problem for years, Ann Rockey in 2003, Robert Glushko in 2005, Darrin Stewart in 2011, yet no integrated solution is coming forward. There are great solutions for search, community, content management and business process management, but there is no single solution that integrates them all.
So this morning, I connected the dots. It still takes work, time and commitment from senior management. But it can be done, and my approach it is not an all or nothing endeavor.
What does the future hold?
With SharePoint adoption rates at an all time high, and in order to deliver a better and needed solution to the market, I have decided to focus on an Enterprise Taxonomy for SharePoint exclusively. For one because SharePoint 2010 and its term store’s metadata capability makes it different product today than it was 3 years ago. I believe in the coming years SharePoint could be a game changer in the enterprise content management space.
So with that in mind, I thank Steve Jobs for his genius and for a dark night that allowed me to wake anew and connect the dots. Rest in Peace Brother.