2013 Trends in Metadata

By   /  February 19, 2013  /  No Comments

Metadataby Paul Williams

Metadata is the vital lifeblood of any enterprise that engages in the practice of Data Management. In many cases, it serves as the glue tying together the sometimes disparate outlooks held by the business and technical parts of a business. Data Governance, Master Data Management, and Data Stewardship become nearly impossible to accomplish without the intelligent use of metadata.

This article looks at the upcoming year in metadata as its importance is revealed in a variety of applications, from music and video to other areas more typical in the world of Data Management.

ASG Leveraging Metadata to Power Data Governance

ASG is a software company known for its wide portfolio of products that help enterprises run their businesses more efficiently. DATAVERSITY profiled ASG last year in an article looking at how some of their tools use metadata to allow companies develop and operate a Data Governance practice. Their Senior Director of Product Management, Ian Rowlands, is also a DATAVERSITY contributor.

Rochade, a metadata repository, makes up the backbone of many ASG-branded solutions aimed at Data Governance. The product allows for the easy creation of an audit trail, as well as offering a suite of tools suitable for global impact and GAP analysis. It features an open architecture, allowing importation of data from a wide variety of off-the-shelf systems.

Another ASG product suitable for metadata-centered Data Governance is metaGlossary. Ian Rowland recommends it in tandem with Rochade: “metaGlossary ties together business concepts to the underlying technical artifacts that are used to support those business concepts.”

Getting the business and technical teams to work together is a core challenge of any enterprise, and metadata is vital in making that teamwork succeed. ASG offers tools that make it easy for the business side of the shop to use metadata, an important thing to consider when beginning the implementation of Data Governance at any enterprise.

OneMusicAPI Simplifying Music Metadata

Anyone who regularly listens to music with iTunes or any other media player is familiar with how metadata gets used in that context. Album titles, song titles, genres, and length are important pieces of information when trying to categorize any music collection.

One company, Elsten Software, has created OneMusicAPI, a software process that uses metadata to aggregate music and its associated information from a variety of web-based sources. Elsten founder and also the creator of OneMusicAPI, Dan Gravell provides insight into the reasons behind the product:

“I learnt from developing our own music tagger, bliss, that, while there’s a lot of useful music metadata available in free online sources, the cost of integration is high. It’s not just the initial coding, but also the ongoing maintenance as APIs change. I wrote OneMusicAPI to isolate bliss from these changes, and avoid expensive updating of downloaded applications. Now I’m offering it to other application developers.”

OneMusicAPI leverages the REST protocol, returning the metadata as JSON-formatted objects. One current use case supported by the product involves returning the proper cover art for any release when given the artist and album name. While the first 1000 calls of the API are free, commercial pricing plans feature the option of either a per-call fee or a monthly subscription.

Increased Metadata Sophistication Leads to Better Video Discovery

For online videos to become more discoverable, their metadata needs to become more sophisticated, with better and clearer descriptions of the underlying content. Those are the opinions of Tom Wilde, the CEO of the content optimization platform, RAMP. Wilde was interviewed by the MIT Technology Review at an executive retreat sponsored by Beet.TV.

Contextual references to other related videos and supporting text-based documentation are both pieces of discoverable content hopefully provided by this improved metadata, according to Wilde. “How do you make video contextual to something else?” he asked. “How do you relate two videos together even if the user hasn’t expressed that? How do I create video training material that references printed manuals that go with it, for instance?”

RAMP is working on this next level of metadata, with an eye that the videos marked with such content find uses in augmenting television broadcasts or even e-commerce applications. In short, making their work more discoverable and supported by richer content provides video producers additional opportunities to earn revenue.

Metadata Vital for Harnessing the Power of Big Data

As enterprises struggle with the massive velocity and volume of Big Data, they become more dependent on metadata to help derive actionable business information out of their ever-growing databases. Mervyn Mooi, director at South Africa’s Knowledge Integration Dynamics, discussed the role of metadata with Big Data in an early February article in IT Web.

Mooi feels metadata is vital to give any Big Data application the flexibility it needs to be useful to the enterprise. “[I]t is through metadata that data architectures can enable flexible data and processing usage models that are required for using and managing big data. It implies that any data store or data processing technologies, which are based on metadata, such as data warehouses, are also considered as part of the big data domain,” said Mooi.

Big Data applications, powered by effective metadata, can achieve the promise sometimes unfulfilled by traditional data warehouse applications. Mooi opines:

“Data warehouses were traditionally used to feed business intelligence systems and typically in a rigid manner relying on structured data. Big data goes beyond those fundamental data types and includes data content, systems data such as job or process run-time results, and user accesses, which are not considered business data in the bottom-line sense.”

Ultimately, proper use of metadata provides the architectural flexibility to allow systems that use Big Data to provide real business value to the enterprise. Mooi sums up the importance of metadata:

“The solution to realizing the benefits of big data does not reside solely in the employment of big data technologies and systems, or even other technologies and tools, but rather in the architecture of the data domain which relies on reliable, consistent and available metadata to drive flexibility within the confines of good management practices and processes.”

Microsoft SharePoint Enhances Support for Metadata

Microsoft SharePoint is a system for document management used by many organizations of all sizes. Its 2013 version release provides enhanced features to SharePoint’s Managed Metadata System (MMS). KMWorld covered the new SharePoint in a January article.

MMS was first introduced in SharePoint 2010, and the edition in Microsoft SharePoint 2013 has new social collaborative features and an improved visual navigator that helps users to quickly find content from a collection of information storefronts based on a variety of metadata.

The article details the tasks SharePoint administrators need to take to prepare their metadata when upgrading to SharePoint 2013. Microsoft’s document management system offers users the ability to create their own tags using a “folksonomy” usage model; MMS allows for the easy merging of these terms into the overall enterprise taxonomy.

MMS also provides functionality to detect synonyms within a taxonomy and these can be used to offer suggestions to users when they are creating their own terms. The author stresses the point of making sure all enterprise taxonomies are cleaned up before migrating to SharePoint 2013. He feels administrators should consider the metadata on an equal footing with any SharePoint content and applications when preparing to upgrade.

Luminate and Getty Images Combine to Improve Image Metadata

Stock image company, Getty Images, is combining forces with Luminate, a firm known for their technology that adds interactivity to online images. The new partnership is aimed at improving the metadata used for image description on the web today. Both companies made the announcement of their marriage in late January.

Luminate is integrating Getty Images’ metadata as well as their ImageIRC technology into the former’s application platform. The hope is that the improved metadata helps drive web-based traffic to publishers using Luminate’s interactive technology to enhance overall user engagement with the content. According to the companies’ press release, their partnership “was born out of these brands’ shared dedication to improve the engagement and value generation from imagery.”

Luminate’s algorithms and the use of crowdsourcing that pairs up content and imagery should benefit greatly from the improved metadata provided by Getty Images. “We are delighted to partner with Getty Images. Luminate enables consumers looking at a picture to share, buy, or find out more. By integrating Getty’s metadata, the possibilities for future development are staggering, particularly as the Imagesphere continues to mature,” said Bob Lisbonne, CEO of Luminate.

From the enterprises focused on managing Big Data to the daily end-users spending time listening to music or browsing (and now interacting with) images on the Internet, metadata plays an important role in making those processes easier and more efficient. Expect “data about data” to continue its growth in importance in 2013 and beyond.

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