Metadata management is the oversight of data associated with data assets to ensure that information can be integrated, accessed, shared, linked, analyzed and maintained to best effect across an organization.
Metadata summarizes basic information about data, which can make finding and working with particular instances of data easier. Having the ability to filter through that metadata makes it much easier for someone to locate a specific data asset.
Document metadata in Microsoft Word, for example, includes the file size, date of document creation, the name(s) of the author and most recent modifier, the dates of any changes and the total edit time. Further metadata can be added, including title, tags and comments.
Ideally, in an enterprise environment, metadata should be generated whenever data is created, acquired, added to, deleted from, or updated. Metadata management is designed to ensure that metadata is added appropriately and that mechanisms are in place to optimize its effectiveness.
Benefits of metadata management include:
- Consistency of definitions of metadata so that terminology variations don't cause data retrieval problems.
- Less redundancy of effort and greater consistency across multiple instances of data because data can be reused appropriately.
- Maintenance of information across the organization that is not dependent on a particular employee's knowledge.
- Greater efficiency leading to faster product and project delivery.