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The Role of Metadata in a Big Data Digital World

The Role of Metadata in a Big Data Digital World

According to recent findings from Gartner, worldwide spending on data centre systems is projected to reach a staggering $188 billion by the end of 2018. Advances in technology have resulted in the disruption of entire business and industry models, as modern organisations vie to streamline their processes and stay ahead of competitors. The need for business agility is at the heart of this trend, and has fuelled one of the biggest technology movements facing industries today: digital transformation.

Whilst it may be just a buzzword to many, the scope of digital transformation will be far-reaching. New technologies such as the Internet of Things, Blockchain, machine learning and AI (Artificial Intelligence) are not only dominating the headlines at the moment, but are also completely changing the way businesses operate. Crucial to these technologies, however, is having advanced data systems in place.

Data is the driving impact behind all Industry 4.0 technologies. It creates insight, quantifies measurements and informs better decision-making processes for business. More and more, it is becoming apparent that data is now to technology what petroleum was to the automobile in the 20th century.

However, the way data is stored within company files has become an increasingly sensitive issue of late. This has been exacerbated in large part due to the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) across Europe, which enforces much tighter restrictions on the way businesses can store data, particularly in relation to their customers. Not only that, but the industries that are not compliant with the regulations could be facing down fines of up to €20 million, or 4% of their annual turnover, depending on which is higher.

Another issue that has been holding many industries back from unlocking the true potential of data has been legacy IT systems. Many companies currently have legacy data storage assets that were not built to handle increasingly larger data volumes. Thus, the businesses that opt to keep their legacy systems are in danger of being left behind by those who choose to modernise their data processing systems.

Multiple file systems can cause a lot of confusion for employees. Whilst workers can be very organised in the way they store and file vital company information, the reality is that across the workplace  documents are stored in places that are not easily located ,and adding Cloud storage to the mix has exacerbated the problem. Sadly, this is a hindrance that almost every modern employee has experienced – logging into various systems and trawling through numerous folders trying to access the right document at the right moment. In a business environment that increasingly rewards speed and responsiveness, these hiccups can be extremely prohibitive to productivity.

This is precisely where metadata enters the fray. Put simply, metadata is data that provides information on other data. Whilst this concept might seem a bit abstract, the practical application of using metadata means that metadata search systems are able to extract very small amounts of data such as filenames, dates, timestamps and file size, without specifically owning the file or storing it on another system. These are very simple examples of metadata in action, yet it also extends to images, videos, spreadsheets and webpages, and it can be used to provide precise indexes of file content.

By using metadata search across corporate data, immediate access to documents is available, meaning employees can instantly get on with work.

Metadata can also help with corporate compliance as it can be used to discover files that contain personal data enabling them to be quarantined or flagged and deal with appropriately.

Ultimately, with speed and agility becoming an increasing priority in the modern business climate, industries will need to throw their full weight behind digital data transformation , to profit from the crucial insights it can offer. Yet with such a data deluge companies need to be looking towards metadata and unified search techniques to help crunch confusing streams of data, ensuring it is immediately accessible on demand. By implementing metadata search solutions companies will save their employees valuable time in the workplace, make them more productive, and help fast-track their digital transformation processes.


More Stories By Jim Liddle

Jim is CEO of Storage Made Easy. Jim is a regular blogger at SYS-CON.com since 2004, covering mobile, Grid, and Cloud Computing Topics.

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