Managing metadata* and developing taxonomies* is easy! And so it is – when you are working within a confined context.
As Patrick Lamb suggests in his book Organising Knowledge, most people are confident in building taxonomies i.e. lists, lookup sets, hierarchies, file plans…
But they are not skilled at conscious, strategic organisation of their knowledge assets to suit collective needs.
Most taxonomies are narrowly focussed and are developed to meet a specific business need. Or built to replace an out-of-date predecessor. Like a business classification scheme for an eCM system. Like a lookup set for a column in a SharePoint team site. Like a list of values for a bespoke database.
Your best effort may win prizes for it’s logic and quality. But without reference to an organizational standard, it is just another taxonomy adding to the total language set of the enterprise. And each new term created is a semantic equivalent of terms already in use by the organisation.
In a typical organization your taxonomy may be one of thousands, all built without reference to each other or any enterprise standards. Another tribal dialect in your organization’s language.
Taxonomies, metadata and search
Lets start to make some connections here.
At its simplest, a taxonomy organizes information, and metadata describes it. For the taxonomy to be able to organize the information, terms need to be stored as metadata. It all works together to make the content findable, recognizable, and useful.
Christine Benson 2012
Managed metadata is an essential part of an Enterprise Metadata and Taxonomy Governance Framework in that it is the control tool for all of the terms that developers need to build information systems.
Managed metadata plays a pivotal role:
- for building taxonomies
- for building thesauri/ontologies and other search tools
- for building information architectures
- for building connections between taxonomies and business rules
- for controlling data quality.
Without managed metadata every new taxonomy further contributes to the pain of enterprise searchers who use terms/metadata to find/extract content and data analysts who use terms analyse data sets. So it’s no surprise that managing metadata is top of mind for those engaged in the big data movement.
If enterprises want to get value out of their data assets and leverage the big data tidal wave, then the time is right to shift the paradigm from data governance to metadata governance…
Shouldn’t managing metadata be the starting point for most of our governance efforts?