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Metadata in the enterprise, what it is and why you should care

image of Simon Downes Simon Downes
Simon Downes 20 Oct 2022 Time to read: 

Metadata may just be the biggest business resource you’ve never heard of. So, what is it, and why do you need to pay attention to the way your business manages its metadata?

What is Metadata?

Metadata has been defined as the who, what, where, when, why, and how of data.

If we agree that an organisations data assets are resources, then the metadata is the details on those resources: what they are, what to use them for, what to use them with.

When your business, collects, uses, or transforms data in anyway it generates metadata, that is data that describes, categorises, and explains your data, making it easier to reuse, repurpose and manage.

Some simple examples of metadata are:

  • Where did the data in this report come from?
  • What does this piece of data mean for our business?
  • How is this data used?
  • How is this business KPI calculated?
  • Where can I find reliable customer spend data?

In other words, metadata lets you get to the point of having all the contextual information you need to reach a decision more quickly.

In a study of 1500 IT (Information Technology) decision makers by Veritas, they noted that workers wasted two hours a day searching for information, costing their organisations over 2 million dollars a year. Metadata management is one of the tools in your toolbox to help reduce this figure.

Without metadata, a data asset is a liability: lots of numbers and words taking up space without clarity on what it is, where it came from or what it can be used for. This is the foundation of why metadata management is so important, and why many organisations introduce a repository to centrally manage their metadata.

What can you use meta data for?

  • Leverage more value from your data – Understanding which bits of data are the most important allows you to extend the lifetime value of data and ask smarter questions of your data (Gartner)
  • Respond to regulation – Where is all your sensitive data kept, how is it secured in flight or at rest, and who is it being shared with? The potential reputational and regulatory impacts of data mismanagement are greatly reduced when you understand your metadata.
  • Understand your customers – Meta data can help you understand changes in customer behaviour enabling your sales teams to respond to customer needs proactively.
  • Discover actual use of data – Be able to quickly find the information about where data is going, who is using it, and in what context, improving efficiency and productivity on the way

This is the foundation of why metadata and additionally metadata management is so important, and why many organisations introduce a repository to centrally manage their metadata. In the next article we’ll explore the concepts of metadata management and the changes from passive to Active Metadata Management.

Peru Consulting are award winning IT management consultants helping turn your digital strategy to reality, we specialise in providing advisory and delivery services in data, cloud, architecture, operating models, sourcing and supplier management. Our 700+ years of collective experience provides unrivalled knowledge for our clients to leverage and embed into their teams.

Contact Us today to discuss your metadata requirements and how these can be actively managed

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