Nearly 30 percent of organizations are still using SharePoint 2007, only 34 percent of organizations have turned to Office 365 and very few organizations have information governance strategies in place around their SharePoint environments. Those are just some of the research findings from semantic search provider Concept Searching.

The focus of the report was on the use or lack of use of metadata in SharePoint data management. But it also highlighted some interesting future projects for SharePoint-centric enterprises, including migration to newer editions of SharePoint and even the deployment of text analytics with SharePoint environments of the future.

A Bag of Goodies

The findings are contained in therecently published report entitled SharePoint and Office 365 Metadata Survey White Paper, which sets out to uncover what organizations are doing with their metadata.

It is based on 396 surveys from organizations that contacted Concept Searching through its website and offers a range of facts and figures about SharePoint use thatare normally very difficult to nail down.

Concept Searching explicitly avoided using information from its own customer base. It is important to stress this as, generally speaking, white papers are developed by vendors using their own customers, which often leads to skewed or inaccurate findings that don’t reflect general trends in the market.

All that aside, this report is a bag of goodies full of interesting facts and figures about SharePoint and Office 365 use in the organizations. In fact there is so much here, and there are so many different focuses, that we are going to look at it in two parts.

In today’s focus, we will look at what Concept Searching found about the use of metadata in SharePoint as well as the use of its Term Store and its Managed Metadata services.

In a further look at the research tomorrow, we'll examine future plans enterprises have for the deployment of different applications or the development of different projects in conjunction with SharePoint in the future.

SharePoint Findings

For the majority of organizations, SharePoint in the enterprise means SharePoint 2010. Some have already moved to SharePoint 2013, but 27 percent are still using the 2007 SharePoint edition.

On top of this, while Microsoft has spent many months outlining the progress it has made in pushing Office 365 into the enterprise, according to this research the figure — 34 percent — is still lower than might be expected.

Another 21 percent are thinking of deploying Office 365 at some point in the future, but  30 percent indicated no plans to deploy it at all.

Collectively, 72 percent of organizations are planning to upgrade their SharePoint edition or migrate their data to Office 365. With these kinds of figures, it is not surprising that Concept Searching wanted to identify how organizations are using metadata in SharePoint

From the research, there doesn’t appear to be a single way of applying tags and metadata to content across enterprises generally. However, the research did find that organizations are largely using manual end user tagging to improve metadata value.

The research also showed what has been apparent from other SharePoint studies, notably that few enough enterprises have information governance strategies, although many did indicate that they would be addressing this in the future.

A further point worth considering is that SharePoint, for the moment, does not offer any automatic tagging or auto-classification capabilities. Many organizations may feel that the resources required to maintain and manage tagging and classification capabilities maynot be justified.


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Migration and SharePoint

We don’t have to say much about migration here or about the difficulties of migrating from one edition of SharePoint to another. But the research hit on some interesting figures that are worth taking a look at.

For organizations that are still using SharePoint 2007, the problems are even more pronounced.To move from SharePoint 2007 to 2013 requires an intermediary step to migrate to the 2010 version first, although there are third party tools available to help do  this.

In fact, 72 percent of respondents indicated that they are actively involved in planning for migrations in the next six to 12 months, although many of those that have heavily customized environments say they won’t be upgrading. Key to these migrations is metadata and tagging strategies. Concept Searching identified 4 notable trends:

1. Accurate Metadata Tagging

Concept Searching asked about the effectiveness and accuracy of metadata tagging within organizations. It found there was a notable trend towards developing better search by using metadata, even when the metadata is applied manually (something most organizations still do).

Learning Opportunities

 It also showed many organizations (28 percent) see the development of metadata as a governance policy issue. The combined effect of developing better search and better governance has led to the development of better metadata all around.

About 31 percent claim metadata tagging has improved search results. But  21 percent claim they still get poor search results — even with metadata tagging.

The report added that most organizations regard manual metadata tagging as an accepted business practice.This will have an impact on applications that require the use of metadata like content and records management or content security and migration.

2. Information Governance Plans

Given the importance of data and data security to enterprises, it isshocking to find 45 percent of enterprises still don’t have information governance plans in place. A little more encouraging is that20 percent of organizations have not only information governance strategies in place, but also use metadataclassification to apply policy on the metadata to classify data accurately.

Breaking this down:

  • 25 percent use metadata classification to improve search
  • 14 percent use it to migrate file shares to SharePoint
  • 11 percent are using it to ensure content collaboration is secure
  • 10 percent are using it to secure certain kinds of data
  • 8 percent use it to help business processes around records management
  • 12 percent are not aware of classification techniques that could be used in any of the above situations

The research showed metadata tagging is still considered an end user responsibility, which has considerable impact on the quality of said metadata.

3. Managed Metadata Service

The Managed Metadata Service and the Term Store were introduced in SharePoint 2010. Microsoft describes the service as follows:

Managed metadata is a hierarchical collection of centrally managed terms that you can define, and then use as attributes for items in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010.”

The Term Store sets and terms recognize the importance of metadata and provide a way of applying a consistent terminology and tagging policy across the enterprise. For business users and from a business perspective, this means improving search across the system, providescontent enrichment, better site navigation and browsing, and easier content sharing.

In SharePoint 2013, the transition was smooth and additional features were added to specifically improve search functionality. Asked whether they were using term store, the research found:

  • 43 percent have terms sets and the users tag manually
  • 27 percent were planning to deploy term sets in the next year
  • 9 percent cent, who do have term sets are evaluating third party tools for
  • 3 percent use third party tools

However, 18 percent felt the Term Store was too difficult and required too many resources to manage.

4. Term Set Management and Maintenance

Taxonomy management and maintenance is typically done by a skilled business user as well as a taxonomist or a librarian. However, in SharePoint deployments,  52 percent of respondents said they use the technical IT staff to administer and manage the term sets.

The research also found 24 percent have subject matter experts or librarians responsible for management, while a third group of 9 percent use formal groups like KM, ECM or IM to alight the taxonomies andterm sets of organizations.

From a maintenance standpoint, 39 percent managed the taxonomy/term sets with fewer than three staff members, while 10 percent of enterprises have between three and seven staffers to handle that task. A further sevenpercent have more than seven staff members handling it.

Tomorrow we will look at what the research said about application use in SharePoint now and in the future.