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Metadata management: a trending topic at the Gartner Data & Analytics Summit in London

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On the 4th, 5th and 6th of March, Zeenea had the opportunity to attend the famous Data & Analytics Summit in London organized by Gartner. This is an indispensable and inspiring event for Chief Data Officers and their teams in the implementation of their data strategy.

This article outlines many concepts from the conference:
“Metadata Management is a Must-Have Discipline” by Alan Dayley, Gartner Analyst. This subject has attracted the attention of many C-Levels, confirming that metadata management is a top priority for the years, even months, to come.

The concept of metadata applied to our daily lives

To introduce the concept of metadata, the speaker made an analogy to a situation that is known to all of us and that is becoming more and more important in our daily lives: to identify and select what we eat. Take the example of a meal composed of many different ingredients that have been significantly modified. It’s thanks to the different labels, pricing schemes, and descriptions on a product’s packaging that consumers are able to identify what they have on their plates. This information is what we call, metadata!

How do metadata bring value to an enterprise?

Applying metadata on data allows the enterprise to contextualize its data assets. Metadata addresses different subjects, gathered within four different categories: Data Trust, Regulations & Privacy, Data Security, and Data Quality.

The implementation of a metadata management strategy depends on finding the balance between the identified business needs within the company and the regulations associated with data risks.

In other words, where should you invest your time and money? Should you democratize data access to your data teams (data scientists, data engineers, data analysts or data experts) to increase in productivity or to concentrate on the demands of regulatory bodies such as the GDPR, to avoid a hefty fine?

The answer to these questions is specific to each enterprise. Nevertheless, Alan Dayley highlights four use cases, identified as top priority cases by CDOs, where metadata management should be the key:

1. Data Governance

In this particular use case, the speaker confirms that data governance can no longer be thought of in a “top-down” manner. Data cross-references different teams and profiles with distinct roles and responsibilities. In light of this, everyone must work together to inform and complete their data’s information (its uses, its origin, its process, etc.). Contextualizing data is a fundamental element to establishing effective and easy data governance!

2. Risk Management and compliance

The information requested below have been enforced since the arrival of the GDPR. Enterprises and their CDOs must:

  • Define the responsibilities linked to their data sets.
  • Map their data sets.
  • Understand and identify the processing operations on the data and associated risks.
  • Have a processing and/or a data lineage register.

3. Data Analysis

By addressing data governance in a more collaborative way and by favoring interactions between data users, the enterprise will benefit from collective intelligence and continuous improvement on the understanding and analysis of a data set. In other words, it’s extracting previous discoveries and experimentations from pertinent information for the next data users.

4. Data Value

In the quest for data monetization, data will have no value, so to speak, unless the information around it is:

  • measured: by its quality, its economic characteristics, etc.
  • managed: the persons in charge, documentation provided, its updates, etc.

How to establish metadata management?

No matter your enterprise’s objectives, you can not reach them without metadata management. Therefore, the answer to those questions is indeed metadata!
Our recommendations to be able to undertake this exercise would be to:

  • Hire the right sponsor that values a metadata-centric approach in the enterprise.
  • Identify the main use case that you want to treat first (as defined above).
  • Check that the efforts made in terms of metadata are not isolated but are centralized and unified.
  • Select a key metadata management solution on the market, such as a data catalog.
  • Define where, who, and how you will start.

To conclude this article, not having metadata management is like driving on a road with no signs. Be careful not to get lost!

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