The Scandinavian branch of the globally operating Choice Hotels is using MatchPoint technology to deliver the right information to the right person at the right time in its SharePoint intranet. Thanks to content personalization the number of physical web pages is reduced by 95%.
To deliver relevant content for 3000 employees in 200 hotels belonging to five different brands is no easy task. But within only 6 months, MatchPoint partner Crayon in Oslo built a solution that did the job. With 90% of all content being tagged automatically, authors are highly efficient in targeting information. The result: a multi-perspective, topic-oriented intranet with truly personalized content for every role in every situation.
Search-based architecture and automated tagging did the trick
A single intranet for the needs of 3000 users and 50 authors in over 200 hotels belonging to 5 different brands: This was the ambitious goal of Choice Hotels Scandinavia. Among other chains, the Comfort Inn, Quality Inn and Clarion Collection belong to Choice. Every employee should be provided with information based on his function, his location, the hotel and brand he is working for - personalized and when needed. In technical terms: Role-based real-time personalization.
With the help of the Oslo-based MatchPoint partner Crayon, Choice started the project and implemented it on SharePoint. It quickly became clear, that the desired personalized information control is only possible when the information is very well described. To generate all the different views automatically, it was necessary to provide all the news, articles, documents, images and blog posts - simply all intranet content - with appropriate metadata. Under normal conditions, up to ten different categories would have been entered manually per content item by the author, which was impossible to manage.
By using MatchPoint, Crayon could automate the assignment of metadata to 90 percent. Because the framework also provides powerful tools in the areas of user experience design and information integration not included in SharePoint out-of-the-box, the need for custom development was greatly reduced. The entire project cost was reduced by approximately 30 percent. Within only six months, “The Wall”, the new, search-based intranet was built for Choice.
Role-based information wherever you are, whatever you do
A substantial argument for the use of MatchPoint was its ability to tag contents independent of their physical location with any number of metadata tag managed in a multi-dimensional topic map. When storing document, MatchPoint automatically generates metadata that can be used as filter criteria for personalization when users look at the content at a later point in time. This automation not only simplifies the personalization, it also ensures that the user gets displayed the right information at the right time. In addition, globally important content can be displayed to everyone just by tagging it with multiple topics (e.g. multiple hotels or multiple brands in the case of Choice). In the old intranet a new information that had to be provided for e.g. all receptionists across all brands, authors had to link the content item manually on multiple pages and in a complex matrix. Today, the author simply selects all the brands and the “Receptionist” role tags and applies them with one single click.
Improved information quality and search results
Another problem was the lack of search. In the old intranet it was hard for the user to find content. One had to navigate through the hierarchical page structure to find exactly the information they needed. Thanks to the MatchPoint topic map, any content is available from a number of related dimensions. The user can now search not only for the content itself, but also for its context. Even better: several topics can be combined into one multi-facet search filter. Choice has found that an average user, thanks to the context search, can save four hours per week finding information faster. The same search mechanism is used in MatchPoint to aggregate content across several SharePoint applications and to display it in configurable display Web Parts, which lead to greatly reduced development cost.
New platform, new way of work, increased transparency
The biggest challenge in the project was not in the technology, but at the organizational level, though. Choice was aware that different processes that should be represented in the new intranet were not sufficiently defined. Choice went through a huge organizational ripening process in a very short time, which would have been impossible without the focus and the methodical application of new technologies. More than 15 employees were directly involved in the project, over 40 have been trained during implementation. The management of the topic map was handed to two super users who can integrate new topics and make changes. In a second phase, Choice added more functions to the intranet, especially in Web 2.0 and social media areas. SharePoint and the semantic information management of MatchPoint are today a cornerstone in the IT strategy of Choice. Their approach to do much more based on metadata has led to an increase in transparency and understanding of knowledge and information within the company in a very short time.
Immediate success with sustainable user acceptance
At employee level, the semantic intranet was a great success. Shortly after the start, eight more applications have been developed with the same framework. “The Wall” is not only the channel of choice for corporate communication, but also provides a number of useful applications, which all operate on the same principle. Whether it be news management, event calendar, photo gallery, internal banners, the CEO blog in the “Director’s Corner” or the management of press releases: one global topic map combines content items with each other. All applications are based on the centrally configurable MatchPoint Web Parts, which are connected via an Ajax connection framework. This not only speeds up the development and provides the user with a unified experience, but will also ensure that all content is classified right from the time of its creation, appears in all relevant business contexts and can be managed throughout its lifecycle. With the semantic intranet, Choice has established a pool of knowledge that can be used by all employees equally.