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Make sense of hybrid data

Portfolio Marketing Manager, Information Integration & Governance, IBM

To operate effectively, IT and business professionals must be able to trust and understand the data they use for key decision-making. As vital as this trust may be, many employees regularly grapple with misunderstandings caused by the ambiguous terms that describe their data.

Consider the example of a lender who’s determining whether a potential customer is a credit risk. While the lender might have a specific idea of what constitutes a credit risk, he’s not sure whether the program he’s accessing takes that same set of factors into account.

Complicating matters even further, various types of customers (new customers vs. existing customers, for example) might have different lists of requirements that push them into the “credit risk” category.

Trying to sort through these inconsistencies is confusing enough, but it’s even more challenging in a hybrid data environment. Third-party data sources can throw in a whole new mix of definitions and contexts, forcing employees to spend more time and resources trying to understanding the data and less time analyzing it and taking action.

The role of business metadata and technical metadata

Fortunately, you can resolve many of these issues by forming a metadata strategy plan that organizes both business metadata and technical metadata.

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Going back to the example of the lender, the term “credit risk” is a piece of business metadata. By establishing standard definitions for terms and concepts, business metadata cuts back on confusion and allows your business users to collaborate more efficiently with your IT professionals.

To build a functional business metadata plan, start by creating a glossary of properly formatted terms, along with their definitions, examples of usage and links to their data sources. This not only helps business users and analysts operate more effectively, but it creates a common language between business and IT professionals, which, in turn, encourages more collaboration.

Technical metadata is the other form of data you need to manage. This metadata can include data mappings, schemas, lineage, derivations and dependencies. It may also incorporate operational data – such as the time and dates when information was processed and other valuable statistics about processes.

Your IT professionals may analyze this information on a daily basis to assess system performance, so it’s important to maintain the data’s accuracy and ensure that it’s easy to digest.

Business professionals can also access technical metadata to determine whether their information is up-to-date and relevant enough to contribute to business decisions. With more valuable metadata at their disposal, your business analysts will be able to operate more confidently and swiftly.

Metadata solutions and more information

Implementing a powerful metadata strategy gives your employees quick access to the most accurate information, which can:

• Boost productivity
• Encourage collaboration between IT and business professionals
• Reduce errors
• Drastically improve response times

IBM’s InfoSphere Information Governance Catalog provides a comprehensive solution for leveraging metadata to supply your team with accurate, trusted information.

Learn more about how you can use IBM InfoSphere Information Governance Catalog or the role of metadata in our e-book or connect with an IBM expert today. And for guidance on making sense of own hybrid data, you should peruse this informational IBM Analytics resource.