Sunday January 21st 2018

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Data Governance and Metadata

The Metadata literally means information about data. Metadata specifies how a company is going to store and interpret data. Metadata also specifies how data rolls up to become the metrices and KPI’s that organizations use to drive every day business decisions. It is critical that the way these items are calculated is consistent throughout an organization or wrong decisions are likely. The Metadata for an organization is often stored in central location or central dictionary for all to use and reference.

Companies do need to make an effort to define how they are going to store, manage and interpret data, or they will create confusion within organization. For example when the marketing department of a large shipping company asked for list of customers that were eligble for a particular marketing compaign, one analyst came with a list of 21, 000 costomers, and second analyst came with a list of only 16,000 customers. The difference was one analyst included fuel and insurance surchages in their defination, and other did not.

Because in this case there was no Central Repository of definations for all the business to use things were left open to interpretations. This is an example poor data governance. Now instead of talking about marketing campaign, people have to spend a lot of time questioning the business rules that used to create report.

In another example for one system addresses were defined as single memo field, but in another system the same at the company all the elements were broken into seperate fields. Without efforts it is imposible to have data feed from system A to System B to share data, and analytics are hampered.

Without looking too hard, documented cases can be found where within an organization each department set their own standards around storing and managing data. This menifests itself everytime a customer calls in to change their address and it can take 48 hrs to come into effect.

Mature organizations almost always have a data governance commitee that is reponsible for managing and directing the process of creating and managing metadata. This not just an IT problem, the business needs to be heavily involved in proviging a business definations for the items that are in use.

Source: CMA Canada – IT Topic