Posted by Chloe Olewitz on Jan 30, 2017 10:30:00 AM

Imagine you’re walking down your favorite high street, and when you pause to peek into a bright shop window, you can see everything inside. Even from the street, through the window you can tell what type of items are hanging on the racks, where each department is located, maybe even how to access different floors and sections of the store. It’s a perfect metaphor for metadata; a proper metadata management system gives you and your organization a full, contextualized view of what you have in store, at any given time.

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Now, your window shopper will tell you that most stores don’t work this way. Shops don’t put every single one of their wares on display at all times, and beyond the retail strategy involved, this is often as much a function of having too much inventory. There wouldn’t be a plausible, appealing way to show off every single item in the store in the front window, all at the same time.

But take into consideration, say, the world famous storefront windows in New York City at Christmas. Iconic stores like Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue create extravagant displays to showcase the best items of the season in a wintery window world.

Are these highly selective displays chosen at random? Of course not. Retail giants have a profound understanding of their inventory, so selecting a single piece cues up a series of related items. The items could be connected based on sales department, price point, designer, country of origin, season, style, material, or even the ideal customer.

Connections like these make it possible to create window displays that are aesthetically cohesive, and also effective in terms of sales. What’s more, a successful window display will draw people into the store and, theoretically, will direct consumers immediately to certain departments based on the specific display that attracted them in the first place.

This is a highly contextualized understanding of inventory, in the same way that metadata management creates a highly contextualized understanding of your data. None of those shop window connections would be possible if stores didn’t have access to the kind of concrete data that predicts popular shopping habits. But in this simple example, we are able to trace an entire inventory chain, alongside a path of business decision-making, in tandem with a consumer purchase journey, all from start to finish.

Say hello to the information supply chain. When it comes to your company’s data stores, chances are, you’re not dealing with every single piece of information at once. But even if you start with a selected segment of data that you’re looking to understand contextually, you won’t get very far without metadata management. That’s because metadata management solutions align and tie together the enormous and disparate reservoirs of data in your company.

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Metadata management creates a structured, intelligible information supply chain map by giving you a surface-level understanding of all the data types you have, where that data is located, what other data it is connected to, and who has access to it all.

The connections tying data together make it easy to see how new information impacts existing data stores. You gain the ability to see who has interacted with data in your system, when and where data originated, how existing information is influenced by new data, and even how data has changed over time.

Perhaps most importantly, this type of information supply chain map gives you the ability to trace raw data all the way through to final business decisions. Because you can point to every step in a set of data’s evolutionary process over time, you can unwaveringly prove the accuracy and value of your data in support of business insights and important decisions.

Making the tough calls and important moves at high levels of business decision-making can be a pressure-filled responsibility. But the task is only made worse by the nagging concern that your business decisions might be based on faulty, incomplete, or out-of-date information.

The at-a-glance overview created by a metadata management system provides the assurance that whatever business decisions you pull from any stage of your information supply chain will be foolproof and solid, and will be supported by a full understanding of your hard-earned data.

Topics: information supply chain assurance, Data Governance, metadata management, data management, importance of metadata management, benefits of metadata management, data management explained, data supply chain, Information supply chain

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