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Connecting Big Data and Big Content with Metadata

Mika_JavanainenIn this special guest feature, Mika Javanainen of M-Files Corporation provides insight into using metadata as a bridge to connect structured data with unstructured content for competitive advantage. Mika Javanainen is Senior Director, Product Management at M-Files Corporation, developer of M-Files, an enterprise information management solution that provides users with metadata-driven system for organizing and managing documents and other information. Javanainen is in charge of managing and developing M-Files product portfolio, roadmaps, and pricing globally. Prior to his executive roles, Javanainen worked as a Systems Specialist, where he integrated document management systems with ERP and CRM applications. A published author, Javanainen has an executive MBA in International Business and Marketing.

Every business has critical actionable information, and being able to effectively organize and quickly access this information drives more intelligence into the business. To this end, companies in virtually every industry are working feverishly to capitalize on big data, and harnessing its power across various lines of business has become the Holy Grail for information technologists. As big data repositories continue to scale both in number and size, so does the game-changing potential for organizations to effectively tap into and manage them.

However, while Big Data solutions and techniques are unlocking previously hidden or under-utilized structured data, the largest source of potential insight in the form of unstructured content (“big content”) remains largely untapped. According to Gartner, unstructured content represents as much as eighty percent of an organization’s total information assets.

Effectively managing and harnessing the ever-growing volume of structured data and unstructured content creates competitive advantages by helping a business make better, faster decisions. While part of the problem stems from the sheer magnitude of a typical company’s digital information assets, the proliferation of information silos has also exacerbated the issue. Structured data and unstructured content is often spread across many internal business applications, network servers and employee systems and devices.

Using metadata as a bridge to connect structured data with unstructured content, organizations can eliminate information silos across different business systems (ERP, CRM, etc.), departments and devices. Regardless of where the data resides, it can be accessed and synced across various systems and devices with no duplication of content. To this end, metadata breaks down the barriers between companies and their information, and structured data and unstructured content is then freed from the confines of applications, platforms and information silos.

By considering relevance, metadata-based content management systems can carry out searches across both structured data applications and unstructured content repositories. Metadata links all of the content related to one or more metadata attributes, regardless of location or format. For example, metadata can tie a proposal (an unstructured document) to the related customer’s record in a CRM system (structured data). A search on the appropriate metadata value (the customer’s name, in this example) can reveal all related documentation, sales opportunity details, account history and other relevant information. In other words, metadata serves as the bridge that intelligently connects information residing in multiple repositories in a meaningful way.

Metadata similarly benefits decision making at all levels of an organization. By helping employees identify and leverage all relevant information from across the entire company, structured data and unstructured content is delivered to the people that can use it to provide the most value to the business. And since a single version of each data asset can appear in an infinite number of logical groupings based on its metadata attributes, decisions can be made with more confidence since users know they are working with the most current file version.

Incorporating meaningful metadata attributes into structured data and unstructured content makes information assets more actionable. For example, unimportant information can be quickly excluded during the search process. Just like the needle in the haystack, or the golden nugget in the stream, identifying precise content within a Big Data environment requires filtering out the unimportant and irrelevant results.

Metadata is fast emerging as the foundation for harnessing the vast amounts of structured data and unstructured content that resides across business systems, providing a wide range of quantifiable benefits, regardless of an organization’s size or core objectives.

 

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