Using Metadata Wisely to Mitigate Risk and Uncover Opportunities

The role of metadata has become increasingly prominent in how everyone from data scientists and business leaders to compliance officers and financial auditors look at data as a strategic asset. Metadata—literally, “information about information”—is an invaluable element in organizations’ strategies to gain critical visibility into the status, location and ownership of corporate data.

But few organizations have a sufficient understanding of how best to utilize metadata within the overall context of an information governance strategy, particularly as it relates to visibility. For instance, anyone creating, sharing, extracting or reporting data needs to understand the role of metadata in risk mitigation scenarios such as e-discovery, governance and compliance.

Metadata also plays a vital role in transformative workloads such as data mining and sophisticated analytics that turn raw data into tangible value that can be quantified in metrics such as revenue, profits, market share and customer satisfaction. For instance, take records managers who need the comprehensive, end-to-end visibility that metadata provides. Without metadata, or the proper metadata management framework, records managers won’t be able to locate records, understand who created the records or who has privileges to access or amend the files.

Take a real-world use case in retailing—loss prevention. Suppose a retailer begins experiencing inventory misalignment after physical cycle counts, and suspects that internal theft may be to blame. Without metadata, it would be extremely difficult to have sufficient visibility into the data that would help them confirm the source of the possible theft. Using metadata, organizations can identify the days when stock levels didn’t align with the day’s purchases and inventory movement, which product SKUs were affected, who rang up sales transactions for those SKUs and if unauthorized sales exceptions were logged.

While most organizations certainly have some level of metadata embedded into most of their essential information, far fewer of them understand what level of metadata they have, what metadata they are lacking or how to use metadata management to increase visibility. The lack of a metadata management structure often results in such problems as longer discovery phases for data warehousing or e-discovery; difficulties in onboarding new users without historical reference points, and challenges in meeting project deadlines because team members lack visibility into the information necessary to complete key tasks.

How can metadata—particularly as part of a comprehensive information governance strategy—help organizations gain visibility into their data so they can make smarter, faster and more impactful decisions?

  • Risk profiling. By identifying areas of high risk, organizations can improve their ability to spot and remediate problems such as potential data breaches, compliance violations or missing data for e-discovery. Data Insight from Veritas identifies overly permissive data sharing, and integrates seamlessly with Veritas’ data loss protection solutions to scan for data loss and help secure information.
  • Storage reclamation. All organizations need to identify stale, orphaned or non-approved information, and must have efficient ways to move that data to the most cost-efficient storage. Using Veritas’ Enterprise Vault product in concert with Data Insight gives organizations the necessary visibility to assess the business value—now and in the future—of data, and reallocate that data in a way that frees up primary storage resources.
  • Migration compliance. Utilizing metadata and metadata management is essential in helping organizations determine which data should remain on-premises and which data can and should be moved to the cloud.

The huge growth in unstructured data has created a major strategic challenge for most organizations. It is becoming increasingly difficult for IT departments or business stakeholders to have the necessary visibility into essential data for a variety of applications, workloads and use cases.

Using metadata as part of an enterprise-wide information governance platform increases visibility and helps to reduce risk, identify new business opportunities and better understand the economic value of data.