Understanding Metadata At Your Organization

understanding metadata at organization

Every organization works with data on a daily basis. The significance and value of the data can vary significantly, but one thing remains certain: contextualizing the data is of the utmost importance. That is what metadata does. Metadata is the subset of data that essentially provides information and sheds light on other types of data that you have accumulated. Safeguarding, understanding, and analyzing it is just as useful for cleaning inside as your traditional data analysis methods. But understanding how metadata works and integrates with your organization can be a little bit more challenging. In this article, we will take a look at metadata and how it affects your organization on a broad scale. Check it out below. 

What Is Metadata? 

Metadata is a pretty abstract concept. It is simply data that tells you about other data. It is a fairly comprehensive way of organizing and describing digital information. Arranging data in an easily accessible, usable manner is what metadata is all about. It focuses largely on the "five W's." Anyone who has ever taken a journalism class or written articles knows what these concepts are: who, what, when, where, and why. Metadata often also covers how it was generated as well. Of course, these concepts are distilled to be more specific when it comes to metadata. The information will be more along the lines of who created the asset, what its purpose is, where it is being stored, and so on. Depending on the data you have captured, your particular metadata might include the title of a document, the author's name, the date it was created, and keywords describing its contents. 

Why Is It Important For Your Business? 

Metadata is a pretty big deal for any business that uses data for marketing, insights, or other initiatives. It acts as a means of organization and classification. Why is it important to classify data? So it is easily retrieved. If you can't find relevant data about something, then it isn't very useful. Metadata adds these searchable elements to the data stream, ultimately rendering it easier to find at a moment's notice. It also allows you to track any changes or modifications to the data—especially ones that might conflict with regulatory compliance standards. Finding information quickly and improving search results is critical to any organization. Understanding your Metadata can also lead to better insight into other aspects of your organization like customer retention issues, employee retention problems, and failures covering both marketing and sales. 

How To Use It 

Using metadata effectively takes a multi-layered approach. It starts with convincing executives and higher-ups to get on board with a data management strategy. Once you have accomplished that lofty goal, start putting a team together and developing strategies for how to manage your data. There are plenty of different ways to manage data. The best way is to use metadata management tools to guide and inform the process. Once a strategy is in please, it is time to monitor it and use the tools at your disposal effectively to ensure your leveraging metadata appropriately to the organization. 


The benefits of using metadata properly at an organization are extensive. To begin with, it helps increase return of investment on marketing initiatives. Because metadata identifies uniquely searchable / identifiable characteristics of data, it makes it easy to discover. That means that a marketing initiative can succeed because it can be found easier. Spending money on marketing is only useful if it reaches an audience. Metadata helps it reach that audience by defining characteristics of the data. It is the same general concept for making sales. With more information and context available, the entire process is streamlined. Finally, great metadata management helps your company maintain regulatory compliance (more on that in a moment), which can be incredibly beneficial in the modern age. 

gdpr metadata compliance


Perhaps the largest application and most extensive benefit of using metadata properly is helping companies meet regulatory compliance standards. The ability to audit data and quickly assess information is crucial to meeting those compliance standards. If you have been working with data for a long time, you are undoubtedly familiar with the Health Insurance and Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). All of these regulations have played a major role in generating new strategies for managing data. Think of metadata and metadata management as components of a larger data governance initiative. Where data governance ensures the integrity/security of data, metadata classifies it. This level of identification, definition, and classification helps to meet some of those tough regulatory compliance standards. And meeting those standards is pretty important. 

In GDPR, for instance, metadata is often held to extreme scrutiny. So, using metadata to enforce compliance standards and following regulatory requirements in regard to the data itself is critical to the continued success of any organization.

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