The metadata have long been the poor relation of IT for the benefit of the data. Until then, the interest in exploiting these descriptions of information did not interest many people. After a first phase of euphoria generated by the business potential created by big data, enthusiasm falls because of the difficulty of using the data collected, in addition to existing ones.
According to the studies from Gartner on metadata management tools, only 10 to 15% of the data owned by the company would be used. The rest consists of redundant, trivial data and other unknown data (Dark Data). A loss which also explains that on average, users lose between 30 and 40% of their time to find and identify whether the data is useful. So much time lost to value creation!
To mitigate this loss, the Gartner and its famous “magic quadrant” promotes the indispensable role of metadata for good governance of information, even if it is outrageous: by 2020, 50% of information management will only support the metadata.
Metadata: the context for understanding information
To justify this prophecy, it is undoubtedly useful to recall the role of metadata and the operational modalities of its deployment.
In short, the metadata is the information of a data file and extensively all the processing rules associated with that information.
Basically, when you export a photo from your digital camera, the metadata includes camera information, shooting settings, location, weight, and so on. This file can be exploited by a human, but also by the software of treatment. In order to manage the governance of information, the same should apply to the data used by the company, but with a much more detailed description.
In addition to basic information, the metadata must provide the company with a complete map to understand its data and associated processing methods. Concretely, the metadata must make it possible to answer the 5 W + How questions, namely:
- Who created this data? Who is using it? Who does it belong to? Who handles the treatment and maintenance?
- What is the business definition? What are the business rules? How secure is it? What are the standard denominations within the databases?
- Where is the data stored? Where is she from? Where is it used, shared? What regulatory or legal standard does it meet?
- Why are we storing this data? What is its purpose and purpose? What is the business lever to use it?
- When was this data created, updated? When should it be erased?
- How is this data formatted? In how many databases or sources is it present?
The answers to this quiz add considerable value to your data. They become precise, understandable by all the businesses of the company, accessible and easy to share. Either the exact opposite of the most common situation where files roam on shared volumes under as many names as users, are sometimes stored in unknown databases of the DSI – the advent of shadow-IT, where everything simply sleep in a data lake until we know what to do with it. By implementing a mapping of data, these situations will be a bad memory in favour of proven benefits.
The benefits of metadata
As you can see, thanks to the metadata, a fine mapping of the data allows a contextualization of the information and brings many advantages in the operating phase: saving of time, management of the conformity and quality.
The virtues of metadata are many, including:
- The access to information by users without technical knowledge – Data creates value when it is exploited by the business for business purposes. With a detailed context, it is easy for everyone to access the information requested using a simple search engine indexing the structure, content, quality and nature of each data.
- The quality of the data – Evaluating the quality of the data is easier. Once qualified, the data does not need to be screened to see if they are useful, timely and relevant. The metadata did the job.
- Time saving – By giving a complete and detailed profile to each data, the user devotes time to the exploitation, not to the evaluation of the information.
- Metadata allows the protection of sensitive data – For example, a framework for the use of personal data. The mapping of personal data and sensitive data facilitates the work of protection (encryption, access management …) of these data.
- Easy operation and collaboration – The traceability provided by the metadata brings transparency to the treatments performed. This knowledge confers additional confidence to the user when using these data, for example by being able to control the impact of these actions on the data.
- The update of hidden data – Companies often have hidden data storage, which is spoiled. They can be from mainframes, complex applications or other, which makes their analysis and their exploitation almost impossible. Once mapped with the metadata, these information games find the light and can be exploited by the trades in the company.