by Ian Rowlands
Last month, I restated the case for basic metadata management. Metadata management is critical to the long-term value of data. I’m going to assume you bought that proposition, and you have made a commitment committed to metadata management. Terrific! What happens when you have a solid metadata management foundation in place?
You can build some wonderful things on top of a solid metadata management foundation. I think my favorite starting place is the business glossary. (Look, I know some of you are going to say “oh sure, you would say that, you sell that stuff.” You’ve got it backward. I’m not passionate about this stuff because I work for a company that sells it. I work for a company that sells this stuff because I’m passionate about it.). So why the business glossary? Because of the amount of time I’ve spent in the past dealing with the confusion caused when people don’t have a shared understanding of business data. Because I’ve seen people struggle to find what they wanted because they didn’t have a business focused entry point. A business glossary is a great enabler of collaboration and sharing around data.
Then there’s the idea of taking a multi-faceted view of information. I don’t want to get too fancy about this, but have you noticed that just as there are islands of data, there are islands of data management? There are data modelers, data quality experts, people looking after reference data, people specializing in analytics, developers using data in applications, database administrators, security specialists … Shall I go on? The thing is, a lot of the time these hard working brilliant people don’t talk to each other. A well-built metadata solution on top of a solid foundation provides a place for data knowledge to be shared and exchanged – a data management water cooler!
Another great possibility is real data lineage. I’m not talking about just the ability to link one data store to another – although that’s not to be sniffed at. No, what I’m talking about is the ability to go very broad and deep – drill down into applications and build a detailed understanding of how data is moved and transformed. Reach up from the data flow to see what business processes are impacted when data moves and changes. Understand how data quality impacts the reliability of results at the end of a lineage. Real data lineage is about knowing how – from design to delivery – the way that data movement and change reflect what’s happening in your business.
What I love about metadata is that it models the ways things work – or at least the way data models their workings. That means that once you build a solid foundation, the only limit to its value is your ability to imagine useful models of your business.
Build on the Basics. Let’s have some metadata fun!