In late October of 2011, Intel’s Sherry Chang gave a presentation at the Taxonomy Boot Camp conference in Washington DC describing the successful implementation of this solution in the Synaptica KMS software. Many companies large and small may find themselves in a similar situation, and Synaptica looks forward to addressing this and any other challenges that they are presented with as a result of the ever-evolving requirements of enterprise taxonomy management.
When Intel came to Synaptica in June of 2010, they had a problem, and they wanted the Synaptica development team to try and help out with it. Intel has a very large product catalog of integrated chips, CPUs, motherboards, and other computer components sold around the world. They also have a large, global work-force with requirements to source, manufacture, sell, and support those products worldwide. As a result, what should have been standardized product terms were being segmented, re-organized, and reprioritized by different internal groups and business lines, each to suit their own requirements and view of how they needed the catalog to be organized.
The result was 20 different product hierarchies that were being used across the organization, each one with variations on product names and descriptions for what should have been identical product entries. The requirement, then, was to allow for the creation of multiple, distinct product hierarchies to suit each business user’s needs, while utilizing the exact same terms to form these hierarchies.
After gaining a better understanding of the issue and the desire to maintain multiple, parallel hierarchies in the same set of terms, the Synaptica team’s initial response was to say, “That would break all of the rules!” An example provided by Intel had the term “Processors” as the parent to “Desktop” and “Server” for one internal customer, and as the child of those terms for another. Given existing rules for hierarchical taxonomy construction, you can’t have a term be both the parent and child of another term. It just couldn’t be done!
But, after further discussions and some out-of-the-box thinking by the Synaptica development team, an innovative approach was developed that would require the creation of an entirely new relationship class called “Multiple BT/NT” (mBT/mNT). This new class would allow for multiple, parallel hierarchies to exist using the same set of terms, a concept that could simply not be accomplished with the traditional hierarchical relationship “BT/NT” class.
Example of parallel, multiple hierarchies created using the mBT/mNT relationship class using a singular set of terms (the Term Cloud); From Intel’s Sherry Chang’s presentation, “Hierarchies & Polyhierarchies: Is More Better?” 2011.