Everything You Need to Know About Metadata In Your Organization
Data is the single most important thing driving business today, regardless of industry. No, really. Data analytics drive business decisions and most businesses are taking the data-driven approach these days. Collecting data is the cornerstone of many organizations today because it helps inform and drive critical decisions. It’s also uniquely valuable for experience and improving the company’s product. More than that, data is the building block of success in most businesses. Collecting data, analyzing it, storing it, and keeping it safe from attackers are all challenging tasks that require skill, dedication, and finesse.
Metadata—a subset of data that supplies information about other data—is incredibly useful for giving in context to other data at your company. In this article, we’ll provide a brief guide to everything you need to know about metadata and using it effectively at your company.
The concept of metadata is actually pretty simple. At its core, metadata is merely data that describes other types of data. Think about an MP3 file. When you select it to look at the properties of a file, it will often describe the artist, track, duration, bitrate, album, and modification date. This data, known as metadata, answers six important questions about data: who, what, when, where, how, and why. Yes, it’s the exact same principles one would use when writing a news story or article. That’s why it helps metadata function so well. These are crucial questions that—when answered appropriately—ultimately lead to high-quality data and context. So, to fully and completely understand metadata, it’s important to have a grasp on how to use this information and why it’s so vital to include it with your data subsets.
Types of Metadata
In addition to answering the six important questions (you know, the five W’s and an H), there are three main types of metadata. They are structural, administrative, and descriptive metadata. Here’s a quick breakdown of each:
Structural — this type of metadata helps companies organize and classify digital assets. This means that those assets are now able to be accessed much easier. Information is structured, hence the name. Information that you can expect to find in structural metadata includes chapters, indexes, pages, and similar sections. Inside structural metadata, users will also find information about asset relationships and how they work with each other / integrate together.
Administrative — This is where you’re going to find technical stats and information about assets. This might include the type of file, usage rights, owners, and creation dates. Moreover, administrative metadata also includes rules for archiving and other crucial technical information.
Descriptive — just like the name implies, descriptive metadata helps users search for and find assets fast. This is where you’ll find keywords, phrases, and other pertinent information to make files easier to find.
At the end of the day, metadata needs to be structured appropriately to be of any value. If it’s just all over the place, it isn’t going to be effective. Instead, it’s just going to create a nightmare of privacy and compliance issues from which the organization might never be able to recover. So, implementing a robust metadata management strategy isn’t just a good idea – it’s necessary to reap the full benefits of metadata management.
There are plenty of organizational benefits to leveraging your metadata appropriately. First and foremost, metadata is going to be valuable for creating a searchable database of information. If you want to find out why a marketing plan worked or didn’t work, you should be able to search it up using the metadata from the overall data set. The same goes for understanding sales figures and demographics. If you were looking to create a new product or roll out a new service, understanding metadata is crucial to informing those decisions. It’s so useful for organizing data, it helps with marketing, sales, and compliance efforts. Metadata also helps improve search results and makes it easier to find information when needed. At the end of the day, it’s all about usability and enhancing the benefits to your organization as a whole. Your organization needs context to manage data effectively, and that’s precisely what properly handled metadata provides.
Reaping the benefits of properly using metadata requires a comprehensive management system. First and foremost, you’ll need to establish a powerful metadata management strategy utilizing a solid team of experts and excellent tools. It’s also prudent to get executives, higher-ups, and managers on board with any metadata management strategies you are contemplating or already have in place. But that’s not the end of the road for managing your metadata. Another important consideration is proper end-to-end management. Remember that third-party data is no longer really a viable means by which to create marketing strategies. Instead, taking end-to-end measurements from your metadata relies heavily upon first-party information. That is, the information you acquire yourself. This could be as simple as audience analytics from video or audio content. Sometimes it can be from the cookies you ask visitors to enable on your website. Either way, data must now be organized, aggregated, and experimented with to be as effective as it was before in market conditions. Part of this is understanding how your metadata integrates with the rest of the information to create better strategies and lead your organization to success.
One of the most significant challenges with governing metadata is compliance. Since they were enacted, remaining compliant with regulations like HIPAA, GDPR, and CCPA has long been on the minds of most organizations. As a result, data management strategies needed to change. These vital regulations require a deep understanding of how data flows and gets managed within an organization. There needs to be a plan for reinforcing privacy and security while attenuating potential vulnerabilities. Tagging content, having a taxonomy structure, and using a metadata management system can all help aid with compliance. Being able to manage who has access to what information while also protecting it from possible threats is key to managing metadata effectively.
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