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How metadata management relates to data governance and MDM

Why is metadata management important? Because without it, you couldn't have a successful data governance or master data management program, explains governance expert Anne Marie Smith.

How important is metadata management, and what is its relationship to master data management (MDM) and data governance?

Without proper metadata, master data would have no context. Without metadata, data governance would have no material with which to work. Metadata, as defined by David Marco in his book Building and Managing the Meta Data Repository: A Full Lifecycle Guide, is "the context of all data contained in all systems, all documents, all processes. Meta data is the knowledge of the raw data." To be blunt about it, without metadata, all the data that organizations collect and store in their IT systems would essentially be meaningless and, thus, bereft of business value.

But to be valuable in its own right, metadata must be managed according to established processes and within industry standards and guidelines for best practices. Managing metadata is a function as important as MDM and data governance, since metadata management is a foundational component for each of those disciplines. It would be impossible to manage master data without managing its metadata, as well. Additionally, an organization that implements a data governance program without addressing metadata management will be unsuccessful because many of the activities and tasks carried out by data stewards are focused on metadata and the process of managing it.

Metadata management includes the development of business glossaries and definitions of things such as data elements and entities, business rules and algorithms, and data characteristics. The bottom line is that managing the collection, organization and sustainment of business metadata, and the usage of technical metadata, is important to the success of any MDM and/or data governance initiative.

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How does your enterprise approach metadata management?
Our approach essentially takes into account the entire scope of the enterprise's content. This includes addressing the idea of metadata pertaining to information for which there is no file. The system essentially manages metadata separately from the file itself, giving me flexibility to manage metadata by employing centralized tools. I can also support the addition of metadata to all the documents regardless of the file format.
While I agree with everything you have written. it is, in my opinion, not a good idea to expect companies to care much about metadata management until there are standard definitions and business glossaries in place for the same.
I would love to say we're great stewards of metadata, but it would be far from the truth. Not only don't we manage it, we don't even consider that. We use metadata because we need to connect disparate bits of information.

All the information we need is so readily available that keeping it all neat and tidy has never been a consideration.
The biggest issue with understanding metadata management is that different companies have different definitions, business rules and values associated with different master data.