Session, FRI 13:30 - 15:00

Governance through Language: The Thesaurus as a Management Tool

Taxonomies, thesauri and dictionaries have a long history as a means to capture knowledge and the language by which it is expressed. In organizational contexts, there is a growing interest in creating such artefacts. By doing so, organizations strive to attain a variety of goals: capturing and dissemination of knowledge, normalization of terminology, and quality assurance — to mention a few. Increasingly, thesauri play a role in governing the design and operation of IT-systems. This is an interesting development, as it shifts the control over what data mean from the IT Department towards the business.


The shift results from a number of trends. Technology providers respond to these in innovative ways. Standards-compliant thesaurus management software offers an increasing number of features. This includes automatic “seeding” of a thesaurus by mining the DBPedia, but also mechanisms to govern “pick lists” such as “gender: {male, female, undisclosed}”, so that software applications used in business processes literally use the thesaurus as the single source of reference data. An exciting development is adding features that leverage semantic integration through Linked Data technologies.

We will present an analysis of the trends leading to this development. We also reflect on the different strategies to deal with polysemy, idiosyncrasies, and multilingualism and to organize governance. Finally, we discuss some real-world cases and draw lessons learned from them.




Taxonic specializes in activating business knowledge in organizations. This knowledge is often an implicit factor in business processes, or is hidden in complex IT-systems. Developments in technology and in the way the industry thinks about business architecture and automating processes enable one to do more with this knowledge. Taxonic makes organizations more flexible and resilient to change.


Jan Voskuil

As CEO of Taxonic, Jan Voskuil is responsible for answering clients’ business challenges with innovative solutions in the field of semantic technology. After obtaining a PhD in theoretical linguistics, Jan worked for several start-ups in the field of artificial intelligence, search technology and text analytics. Before co-founding Taxonic, Jan worked as senior solution architect at CGI and was involved in several large-scale, high-profile innovation programs.




04.09, 2014

Vocabulary Carnival

Leipziger Kubus

Permoserstrasse 15

04318 Leipzig, Germany

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