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Why HR Professionals Should Know the Difference Between Taxonomies and Ontologies when choosing a Skill Management Software.

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In today's fast-paced work environment, it is more important than ever for HR professionals to effectively manage the skills and talents of their employees. Skill management software can help keep track of existing competencies within a company and initiate targeted personnel development measures. However, there are significant differences between taxonomic and ontological approaches in this area. In this article, we will explain why HR professionals should engage with these differences and why ontological solutions are the future.

Most skill management software solutions on the market rely on a taxonomic structure. This means that they categorize and hierarchically organize skills and talents. However, this approach has several drawbacks. On the one hand, there can be overlaps and redundancies when a skill appears in multiple categories. On the other hand, taxonomic structures are often rigid and difficult to adapt to changing requirements.

In contrast, ontological approaches are based on a more flexible and interconnected structure that enables better mapping of skills and talents and establishes relationships between them. For example, ontological skill management software can show which skills are particularly valuable in combination or which skills serve as a basis for acquiring additional competencies.

A practical example of the difference between taxonomic and ontological approaches would be the categorization of programming languages. In a taxonomic structure, these would simply be summarized as "programming languages" without addressing the specific differences and relationships between them. In contrast, an ontological structure would relate the various programming languages to each other and show, for example, which languages use similar concepts or which languages are suitable for specific use cases.

The trend toward ontological approaches is also confirmed by experts from the HR and scientific world. Dr. John Sullivan, Professor of Human Resource Management at San Francisco State University, says: "Ontologies enable a better understanding of the relationships between skills and thus more targeted decisions in personnel development and planning." (Source: Sullivan, J. (2010). “The Future of HR Metrics: Predictive Analytics.” HR Executive Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.hrexecutive.com)

Prof. Dr. Jochen Malinowski, Professor of Business Informatics at the University of Regensburg, also emphasizes the advantages of ontological approaches: "The flexibility and networking that ontologies offer are a decisive advantage over rigid taxonomic structures, especially in a constantly evolving work environment." (Source: Malinowski, J. (2018). “Ontologien im Personalmanagement: Vernetzte Kompetenzen als Erfolgsfaktor.” Personalwirtschaft.de. Retrieved from https://www.personalwirtschaft.de)

Skillties is a skill management software based on an ontological approach. By using ontologies, Skillties enables better mapping of competencies within a company, identification of skill gaps, and targeted promotion of employees. HR professionals interested in forward-looking solutions in skill management should, therefore, opt for ontological approaches like Skillties.

skills taxonomy vs. skills ontology

In summary, HR professionals should know the difference between taxonomies and ontologies in skill management to make the best possible decisions for their company. The trend is towards flexible and interconnected ontological solutions that enable better mapping of employee skills and the initiation of targeted personnel development measures.