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What is metadata?

You’ve probably heard the phrase “metadata” or “data about data” before, but what exactly does it mean?

Metadata is information that describes your data, its structure and its meaning. It can be used to describe any kind of content, from annual sales reports to product prices.

We’ll go into more detail on this later, but first let’s look at some examples of metadata in action.

Types of metadata

Metadata can be divided into two types: technical metadata and business metadata.

Technical metadata is used to describe the structure of an object, such as a file or report. Examples include items such as record size, number of fields in a database table, or data type for a column in a spreadsheet. 

Business metadata focuses on more abstract aspects of information that help you understand its context, purpose, and audience. For example: who created this document? Are there any terms that need to be defined so readers can understand it? Should I share this with others outside my organization?

Metadata is crucial to understanding, managing and using your enterprise data assets

Metadata is information about data. It can help you understand the value of your data, manage your complex enterprise data architecture and even understand the business value of your data.

Metadata is crucial to understanding, managing and using your enterprise data assets. It’s valuable because it helps you identify what information is important to an organization—and why it matters. It gives context to the information that’s stored within an organization so that it can be accessed by those who need it most efficiently.

What is metadata management?

Metadata management is the process of managing, organizing, storing and using metadata to help you understand, manage and use your enterprise data assets.

Metadata helps you do things like:

  • Understand where data is located and what type of data it is. For example: Is this a customer profile or sales order? What’s in each file? Who has access to it? Where are they stored? How should we secure them? Which ones are ready for deletion or archiving based on their age or other criteria (e.g., unneeded because they were merged into another system)?

  • Find specific types of information quickly when you need them — without having to search through hundreds or thousands of files manually looking for them yourself!

  • Share relevant information with others in an easy-to-understand way so they can also make good decisions about how best to use your company’s assets without having first spent hours trying out different queries yourself!

Metadata can help you manage your complex enterprise data architecture.

Metadata is the glue that holds your data together. It’s a key to understanding, managing and using your enterprise data assets. Without metadata, it would be very difficult for you to make sense of the many different types of information being generated by your company–and even harder to make use of it in business processes.

Metadata helps you manage what’s called an “enterprise data architecture.” This term refers to how all the various systems in an organization are connected with each other through networks so users can easily access them from different locations at any time.

Why business needs should drive IT needs, as opposed to the other way around.

Data is only as valuable to an enterprise as it is used. To put it another way, data must be accessible and usable in order for it to provide value. As such, enterprises should prioritize investment in metadata management solutions that can help them understand what data they have and how it is used. Only then will these solutions facilitate access and usability by providing the means for users across an organization—and ultimately across many organizations—to find what they need easily and quickly when they need it.

Having holistic visibility into both structured and unstructured data from multiple sources helps companies make better decisions faster while reducing risk and improving decision quality, compliance, operational efficiency or customer service.

How to use metadata to ensure your company has a great data governance strategy.

Metadata management is a key component of data governance. It’s essential that you have a robust metadata strategy in place to ensure your company has a successful data governance strategy, especially if you want to increase the business value of your enterprise data.

To do this, you need a process for creating and managing all the different types of metadata. This can include descriptive metadata (who created it, how long ago), structural metadata (how fields are organized), administrative and technical attributes (what version number it is) and more.

If you have an effective metadata strategy, then over time all this information will be combined into one place so employees can easily find what they need without having multiple searches running around the world wide web or pulling up hundreds of files on their computer screens at once just trying to figure out where something might be located!

A metadata management platform like Alex Solutions helps you understand the value of your data.

Metadata management platforms like Alex Solutions help you realize the value of your data. That’s because they make it easier for users to understand the processes, workflows and policies associated with each dataset. By providing context for your data, these platforms allow you to look beyond what’s in front of you and see how it fits into a larger picture. For example, if an employee wants to analyze a customer database, he or she can know exactly where that database lives within the broader enterprise architecture and know who has access to it before accessing any information from it. This gives him or her more confidence about what he or she is looking at when analyzing it—and knowing these things makes all the difference for decision makers who are using your data as input into their decision making processes.

Why Alex Solutions is the best Metadata Management Platform for Enterprises

As the Augmented Data Catalog with the highest level of automation at enterprise scale, Alex Solutions makes it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for and share it with your team. Whether you need to make decisions on how best to use your resources or improve productivity, Alex provides a single view of all the information you need in order to make informed business decisions. With Alex’s metadata analysis and action platform, every element of metadata management is unified into one simple solution that is easy for business users to use daily for metadata management and data tasks.

Alex allows users to access and analyze metadata from multiple sources, including databases, file systems, applications, and other enterprise tools. Alex also provides an intuitive user interface that allows you to easily and quickly perform tasks such as:

  • Managing data quality and business rules

  • Enabling the centralized implementation and management of data policies to reduce risk and ensure compliance across the enterprise

  • Automating metadata management tasks with an automated workflow engine that can be customized for your business users to ensure tasks are completed precisely and fully

  • Analyzing metadata and providing reports on the data quality and sensitivity metric results that matter to your business in real time

  • Working with all other enterprise tools to provide a consistent view and single source of truth for your data

  • Enable metadata management and data governance to be performed by non-technical users in your specific business language


The bottom line is, metadata management is a necessary component of an enterprise data strategy. If you can’t understand and manage your complex enterprise data architecture, you won’t be able to take full advantage of all its benefits. As such, it should be a priority for business leaders who want to make their organizations more competitive by leveraging the power of big data analytics.

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