When you’re pushing a particular barrow, it’s good to validate your arguments. So, over the holidays, I caught up with a few Gartner reports to confirm their take on the link between metadata and digital transformation. I’ve extracted a few (not so random) quotes, so follow my line of thinking here…
Gartner on Digital Transformation
Digital transformation has put data at the center of every organization. Businesses are awash with data. They struggle to identify what is most important and what actions to take (or avoid).
On the Value of Metadata
Metadata is information that describes various facets of an information asset to improve its usability throughout its life cycle. It is metadata that turns information into an asset. Generally speaking, the more valuable the information asset, the more critical it is to manage the metadata about it, because it is the metadata definition that provides the understanding that unlocks the value of data.
And on Metadata Management
Quantifying the importance of data assets and providing transparency in the uses of data, in support of data governance and data security, are becoming core data management requirements. Metadata management is therefore emerging as a core technology-enabled discipline for data and analytics leaders.
By now you should have reached the conclusion that metadata management is critical to your digital transformation strategy.
But on executing strategy…
Many managers today find it hard to stay aligned with strategy, not because they don’t understand or aren’t committed to the strategy, but because they don’t fully understand how to carry it out in the continually changing and uncertain operating environment.
And this has been our experience with digital transformation. Most organisations fail to execute their digital transformation strategy because they don’t know where to start and how to clean up the mess they’ve created over the past few years. it’s hard to add value to your content if you don’t what you have.
So how to execute your strategy?
Defining language and establishing standards is the starting point, but many CIOs find this a major challenge:
- It’s a non technical discipline which requires a considerable body of knowledge, however…
- There’s a world-wide shortage of business language and metadata specialists.
- It’s time consuming, but it’s a prerequisite for any form of content management .
- Business users will be highly critical of the business language, but
- They wont actually use it because they don’t have enough time to classify or tag their content, so…
- Metadata quality will be continue to be an issue for any transformation project.
Let’s rethink the business model around this and consider a different approach so you can take advantage of work that has already been done by specialists.
Outsourcing Metadata Management
Outsourcing language development will enable you to execute your strategy faster and start tagging your content with high value metadata.
You think you’re different but essentially you’re much the same as most other organisations. You build stuff or deliver services, employ staff and contractors, manage finances, litigate, regulate, enforce…the same as everyone else.
Through cloud based management tools you can access taxonomies that meet industry and government standards, and ontologies which link taxonomies to information protection and retention rules – all of which can be easily customised to your specific line of business.
It’s a highly cost effective solution. In fact, you can now outsource all those things that you would have to employ someone to do, if you can find a person or team of people to hire, and which would take you years to build.
Automatic Generation of Metadata
Metadata tagging, done by humans, is costly. Most people hate tagging and will find ways to avoid doing it. It is time consuming taking one to five minutes to manually tag each piece of content. Mostly it is done very badly (inconsistent, inaccurate and incomplete).
The business case for automated tagging is compelling. In one night a machine can tag what it takes a human over 250 years to do. And the machine will tag consistently and completely, delivering fit for purpose metadata.
The return on investment is immediate. The first benefit is findability, and the means to sort, filter, group and refine information. But metadata is the gift that keeps on giving. With high quality metadata you empower your digital transformation initiatives in multiple ways:
- providing context for additional processing such as appraising for records and applying retention and information protection rules.
- enabling interoperability and data sharing between systems
- triggering workflow and event processing
- enabling business intelligence: analytics, data mining, business performance management, benchmarking, forecasting…
Back to Gartner for the Final Word
It is the metadata definition that provides the understanding that unlocks the value of data.