Has your company struggled with the question of how to capture your organizational knowledge? If so, you are not alone. I have worked with many organizations over the years to implement ECM and knowledge management solutions. As part of these solutions, I have taught organizations how to manually organize their knowledge assets into relevant topics and present them for use by the whole organization using Office 365. Recently, Microsoft released Viva Topics as part of its Knowledge & Insights program that brings artificial intelligence to bear on your organization’s knowledge assets to automatically organize them into relevant topics. Unfortunately, some organizations have started to enable the Knowledge & Insights features and are too quickly discouraged when they do not see the suggested topics and other results they expected. The secret to getting value out of these solutions is taking the time to understand what you want the solution to achieve for your organization, planning your implementation, and training the AI components involved to produce the right results for your organization. In this blog I will attempt to peel away the layers of the Viva Topics “onion” in hopes of giving you a better understanding of how the various components of Viva Topics work together to build your organization’s knowledge base and make it accessible to all.
Starting with the outer layer, Viva Topics promises to turn your content into usable knowledge. Viva Topics does this by applying AI to automatically organize your content into topics. (I must note that “Topic” is a standard managed meta column I use in my knowledge management solutions, but more on that to come!) Before, you may have used a content query or some other custom app to try to display related documents on a page, but with Viva Topics, you can add topic cards by using a simple hash-tag reference. Overall, Viva Topics provides a much richer and deeper experience into the knowledge area with much less effort.
SharePoint Syntex is the next layer where AI models are trained to capture information and automatically categorize content. Information can also be captured from sources outside Microsoft 365, such as file shares, enterprise websites and databases, by using Microsoft Graph Connectors. SharePoint Syntex uses this information to automatically tag content and strengthen your metadata to improve search, workflow, and compliance. This is the goal of the many solutions I have implemented in my career, but the most difficult step is always implementing the process for tagging the content. SharePoint Syntex helps alleviate this pain-point and potential “human error” in your metadata. The result will be a robust metadata foundation that Viva Topics can use to organize your knowledge assets.
Which brings us to the core of this solution: Managed Metadata and your Enterprise Taxonomy. To get value out of the AI models in SharePoint Syntex and Viva Topics, you need to plan what Managed Metadata Columns are most relevant to your organization and support your goals before you train your models. Then, you can define your Enterprise Taxonomies to support your managed metadata models to allow the IA to take advantage of preferred terms for your organization. Finally, when you create an extractor in SharePoint Syntex, you can then select the managed metadata site column so that the model displays your preferred terms from the Term Store and uses synonyms to translate different naming conventions or retired names to a common naming convention. This will help create a common language which is key to a successful knowledge management solution.
In my experience, implementing a knowledge management solution can be a daunting task for many organizations due to politics and prioritizing the goals of different groups. That is why I recommend working with a systems integrator like Spyglass to help you design and implement your Managed Metadata and IA solutions, and a taxonomy service that is prebuilt and ready for integration with Office 365. Our experience and approach has saved organizations many months of painful analysis and negotiations. Let us help you understand what this solution can achieve for your organization, plan your implementation, and deploy all the required components to produce the right results for your organization. Contact us today!