Meta data, although often overlooked and misunderstood, plays a crucial role in data governance and management. This means it’s critical that you take it into consideration when creating your data strategy. While many businesses often prioritise analytics, neglecting data quality and governance can have detrimental effects.
What is Meta Data?
Meta data is the information that defines and describes data. Yes, we agree that it sounds paradoxical, but it really is just ‘data about data’. It describes and contextualises the data that it accompanies. This often includes simple details like the author of a document, the date it was created, file format and dimensions. These straightforward facts are the basis for much more complex information such as data dictionaries, data lineage and data models when paired with the right tool of course.
Why you should care about it
Meta data is essential for understanding and managing the data that it describes. Understanding your data can get very difficult very quickly, with only a few data sets it’s not a problem. But, whether you’re a SMB or an enterprise, chances are you have more data than you think and it can become incredibly complex and hard to manage.
Effectively managing it can help businesses to achieve their strategic objectives by providing important context and details that help with accessibility, interpretation, governance and use of data. Therefore, investing in meta data management solutions and practices is a must for any organisation that wants to effectively leverage its data for powerful insights that give them a competitive edge in their respective markets.
How it helps with Data Governance
Meta data plays a crucial role in data governance as it provides a clear and detailed understanding of the data, making it possible to identify and address issues like data quality, data lineage and data security.
By providing information about the data’s origin and history, meta data can help users understand the context and limitations of the data. It also includes the data type and properties of each data column, this helps to ensure that analysis is performed correctly (e.g. if postal code/user id is a numeric field, users may try to add them together). This can help prevent misinterpretation or misuse and as such, leads to more reliable and accurate insights.
Why Meta Data is as important as the data itself
Meta data is just as important as the data it describes. Its accurate and detailed information helps organisations to make better decisions, gain new insights and truly trust their data.
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