The Value of Metadata

By Philip Dutton
on Jul 13, 2018


What is Metadata?

Put simply, it’s data about data. The who, what, when, where and how that outlines the properties and tags to categorise the information on a piece of data, defining its purpose. 

Take, for example, a digital image. The file may tell you the size of the image, the date & time it was taken, what type of camera was used, and where the photo was taken. This is metadata, it gives you more insight into the data asset.

Metadata and Data Governance

A strong metadata process as part of the overall governance strategy should be a top priority for any organisation aiming for successful business intelligence or transformation. 

Data is growing at a phenomenal rate and will continue to do so for many years as we record more and more on a daily basis. With this increase in data comes increased pressure on organisations to manage, control and store their data, then understand and get value out of it. Now, more than ever, businesses need to capitalise on this vast amount of data to make the most of its power, gain competitive advantage and use it to drive successful business decisions. 

Keeping on top of this data, categorising and organising it will enable users to easily determine intelligence from it, working more effectively and efficiently. Yet, problems can arise from the disparity of the information, with many companies finding their data assets are spread across multiple silos across departments. 

The need for information on your data is now becoming an urgent necessity for companies. Metadata is the first line of defence when it comes to understanding data and what that data means for the enterprise.

The value of metadata is becoming more apparent. Without accurate descriptions sitting behind data, there is no real way of understanding what it is, why it’s there and where it’s come from – which is a common requirement for many regulations. 

Metadata for Regulatory Compliance

Regulators are stressing, more than ever, the importance of accurate compliance reporting and we have seen a shift from a business simply stating that they are compliant, to having to prove they are. For example, BCBS 239 states: 

“A bank should establish integrated data taxonomies and architecture across the banking group, which includes information on the characteristics of data (metadata), as well as single identifiers and/or unified naming conventions for data including legal entities, counterparties, customers and accounts.” 

This highlights how it is now a requirement for banks, in particular, to have clearly defined and unambiguous metadata which is understood across the enterprise to enforce consistency and control to improve regulatory compliance. 

It would be a fair assessment to say that many financial institutions struggle with proper control and data aggregation, due to the lack of a metadata management process which, in turn, highlights shortcomings in their wider data governance practice.

Metadata for decision making

The quality of data used in decision-making processes can have significant implications on the decision outcome.  

Board members and senior managers have limited time to analyse and comprehend information that is available to them and need to be able to rely on what they are seeing to be true and accurate, and to understand what they are looking at easily.  

Metadata, when executed properly, provides business context of the data so that when it is being used across various business processes, its purpose is clearly understood. With accurate categorisation, users can use metadata to pull reports that will be specifically relevant to the manager who is reading it. Metadata enhances access to, and the navigation of, data assets, dramatically reducing the time required by decision-makers to decipher what a bit of data is telling them.

Metadata Management and Solidatus

Solidatus gives organisations the ability to gain valuable insight into their data landscape through visualised data lineage, showcasing how their data flows through their systems, tracking from source to target and maintaining a historical record of change. 

Solidatus’ metadata management allows for a user to apply an unlimited number of properties to describe, categorise and control each data item within a model that comprehensively depicts their business.  

Solidatus also allows users to keep a full audit trail of changes which can be used to compare versions to see progression in processes and improvement over time. This provides the potential to act as an overall metadata repository for all lineage, dictionaries, DQ etc..

To learn more about Solidatus' metadata management functionality, contact us below:

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Topics: Metadata Management, Metadata

Author: Philip Dutton

Philip Dutton is a Co-Founder of Solidatus. With over 20 years’ experience, much of his expertise has come from managing global transformational change projects within the Financial Services sector. Philip is a thought leader in shifting the data management paradigm towards sustainability and is passionate about revolutionising the data economy and helping companies become proactive instead of reactive when it comes to the management of their data.
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