Why a Metadata Repository Will Improve Search and Information Transparency
Intelligent search can be achieved when an organization recognizes the value of a metadata repository or enterprise metadata environment. A stumbling block within information governance is, and always has been, the lack of metadata and subjective metadata, along with the issue of the business user as the primary author of metadata. Cumbersome drop-down lists and forcing metadata management on the business user simply don’t work.
Automatic multi-term metadata generation eliminates business user tagging. The metadata framework can then address information complexity and effectively increase information retrieval accuracy by providing the ability to manage content, regardless of where it resides, normalize vocabulary, and eliminate silos of diverse application repositories. This creates a consistent framework, available to any application that requires the use of metadata.
There are still quite a few vendors with software based on the use of a taxonomy. Unfortunately, the word ‘taxonomy’ is not well known or understood, and some find it hard to grasp the concept. A taxonomy is a hierarchy – it could be a simple spreadsheet or take the form of a highly disciplined library classification scheme, such as the Universal Decimal Classification. In any case, the word itself has been around since the time of Aristotle, so it is most certainly one of the granddaddies of all classification approaches. And it remains good enough for us today.
For many years, organizations have struggled with taxonomy development, which has traditionally been viewed as a cumbersome, resource intensive, and lengthy process to not only develop but also maintain. The ability to automatically classify content based on algorithms that identify the meaning or essence of data removes many of the challenges in taxonomy development, and enables both IT and business users to easily manage taxonomies. Changes can be tested in real time and tools provide an interactive interface to visually identify concepts and develop business rules to improve the relevancy of search.
From an intelligent search standpoint, the hierarchy as defined in the taxonomy and presented to the business users from the search interface greatly aids in the query process, adapting to both location and discovery searches. Location queries deliver the most relevant information, and discovery queries present similar concepts and information that typically would not be found. The use of the taxonomy delivers improved search outcomes by providing insight into content – grouping similar users, concepts, and relationships.
The end result is a consistent understanding of the value and context of information, which is instrumental in improving business outcomes and reducing organizational risk. The hierarchy of the taxonomy identifies similar content and relationships that are typically not obvious in the search process. This is important because it guides users through parent/child relationships – faceted search – resulting in more relevant information being identified more quickly. This fundamental change through the search interface impacts user activities and transforms them from hit or miss retrieval to insight and discovery.
Many organizations have different search engines deployed within them. The ultimate goal should be the deployment of the enterprise metadata infrastructure component that manages information regardless of search engine or location. From this metadata repository, taxonomies can be rapidly deployed and developed to support specific audiences and functional groups.
This achieves a consistent internal and external vocabulary and is easy to maintain, as the content can be managed within the context of the business delivering business process improvements and managed in one place. This also has a positive impact on the bottom line.
As a key component in information governance, a metadata repository provides secure and compliant access to information, and creates the backbone for the deployment of intelligent metadata enabled solutions that support the overarching information governance strategy, now and in the future.
Do you have a metadata repository? If this topic is of interest to you, please let us know and we would be happy to discuss it in greater detail.