What is METADATA: Why Is It Extremely Important?

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Written By Haisam Abdel Malak
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Metadata and effective metadata management have gotten a lot of coverage in recent years. Most people have heard of the term but they don’t know what it is, how it functions, or why it is so important in modern industry.

Metadata is the data that describes other data. It can be used to identify, locate and describe digital objects, such as files, images, videos, and websites. It is as valuable as data, and experts recognize its ability to assist users in finding, organizing, and using information.

Findability refers to how simple it is to locate a document when you need it. How much does it cost to locate a certain resource? which medium workers can access information? Employees will be able to browse and view their data more easily if meta information is implemented correctly.

An example of metadata is an ISBN number. The ISBN number is a 13-digit number that uniquely identifies books and other publications. It contains information such as the publisher, the title of the work, and the publication date.

In this post, we will define metadata, examine why it is essential, and discuss how it may help companies organize, categorize, and retrieve documents more quickly.

What is Metadata?

By definition, metadata is described as “data that contains information about other data”. To put it another way, it is “information about data”. It contains information needed to understand and effectively use the data. However, its significance becomes apparent as we consider its functional use.

Knowledge workers spend 50% of their time looking for information; it is our responsibility as content managers professionals to improve their experience by providing quick access to resources they need whenever they are.

Classification and implementation of content metadata play a crucial role in that manner. Anyone with the right to add content to any platform should at the very least have a clear understanding of these concepts.

When adding a new document to a content management system, the user must primarily define two key elements.

  • Document type: What kind of document is it? Is it an invoice, a contract, a drawing, or anything else?
  • Document metadata (some systems refer to them as properties or tags): information from or relevant to this particular document.

As a business metadata example, consider an invoice: the most relevant info to provide are the invoice number, customer, amount, and date. If these values are set correctly, customers will be able to find invoices in a matter of seconds, increasing efficiency and overall company operations.

Why Is It Important?

People are feeling frustrated by the amount of content available. They simply need to locate the required document without any difficulty or complication.

So where does significance come from? The source of importance is not a mystery, but it is motivated by something that may seem mysterious: meta data.

When users complain that their search does not yield relevant results or that they are unsure where to look for business-critical information, it is usually due to a document metadata issue.

Traditionally, we learned to organize content using folders and tree structures.

Consider how difficult and time-consuming it will be to sift through various directories in order to find the material you’re searching for.

Can you recall where you saved the document six months ago? This method, without a doubt, is not efficient.

Here’s where document metadata comes in handy. Content creators would be able to classify information, make it findable and searchable, conveniently drive workflows, and automate their retention plan by correctly using and applying the principle of tags on a document.

Metadata is important because it allows you to organize your data in a way that is meaningful to you and makes it easier to find the information you are looking for. It also helps to keep your data consistent and accurate.

We should classify key insights so that we can figure out what the content is all about.

Types of Document Metadata

The most essential systems on the market offer several forms of document metadata to assist organize, categorize, and find documents as fast as possible.

  • Fields or Properties: Precise sort of information that the document creator will be able to input based on the document types or templates fields aid in the provision of extra information for the purposes of organizing and information location. Names, dates, numbers, and currency are examples of fields. They can be set as required and unique.
  • Templates: A collection of fields arranged in a certain sequence for easy setting, removing, and editing of document templates.
  • Version Information: Version-related information, such as the version number, revision, creation date, modified date, and so on, aids in controlling the version number, revision, creation date, and so on. This is very necessary for auditing purposes.
  • Comments: Commenting on the document aids in the collaboration process. Top systems enable comments to be added to each version. A comment can be a text with attachments, and workers can tag each other for collaboration invitations and notifications. Searching on comments might also help you find papers when you need them.
  • Tags: They serve as a method for categorizing documents. They are often specified at the document level, which implies they cannot be altered for each version.

Good Quality Metadata Benefits

Tagging documents in your DMS or ECM system will benefit companies in the following ways:

  1. Dynamic Document Classification: Classification is the process of automatically identifying the type of info according to its content (invoice, letter, drawing, etc.). Using tags to label documents, you can create dynamic views for each user, and these views can be changed by simply adjusting the value of a specific tag on a specific document.
  2. Faster Searching: One of the most important aspects of IM is the ability to easily and quickly allocate documents. Having high-quality content metadata ensures that employees can get accurate search results depending on the appropriate criteria.
  3. Driving Workflows: Most documents have a process to fulfill, such as an approval cycle, collaboration, signature, and so on. We may set up workflows to start when a document with special data is generated.
  4. Automate Retention Policies: Record retention is critical but mostly overlooked. Tagging documents will assist us in automatically disposing or archiving them depending on their preservation policies.

Automated vs. Manual Tagging

Top document management system and enterprise content management system vendors are automating the process of document tagging as a result of technological advancements and the use of emerging cognitive technologies such as AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning).

When a document is created, the system analyzes the content and recommends appropriate metadata to end-users. In practice, this would speed up the process of applying properties to documents while also making it less error-prone.

Manual content metadata assignment will slow down and introduce errors if the company deals with a large volume of content.

How To Get The Most Out Of Metadata?

Now that you understand what metadata is and why it is significant, you must learn how to maximize its effectiveness. If you don’t, it will become virtually useless.

  • Get Employees Buy-in: Employees must appreciate the business importance of document metadata. Take the time to explain the true value of this principle and how it can affect their productivity in the long run.
  • Create Management Strategy: Determine and monitor what information is important to your company and what isn’t. It’s possible to overuse document metadata and generate a long list of tags, but this defeats the intent. Pay attention to the relevant details.
  • Create Good Quality Definitions: Every company is unique. Each must tailor its metadata model to its particular business requirements. You must ensure that companies have the proper concepts and types in place to solve complex business issues.


What is metadata and examples?

Metadata is the data that gives context to information. It includes information about the creator, title, description, and keywords. Metadata can be used to help people find content on the internet. Some examples of metadata are Title, Author, Description, Keywords, and File extension.

What are the 3 types of metadata?

Metadata can be classified into three types: descriptive, structural, and administrative.

Descriptive metadata is used to describe what the data is about, what it contains, and how it should be used. Structural metadata is related to how the data is organized in a computer system or database. Administrative metadata is mainly used for tracking purposes and includes information like who created the file or when it was last modified.

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