Metadata is data about data. For the purposes of his NESUG 2011 presentation, Frank DiIorio defined metadata more precisely as data about data and data that describes workflow objects and processes. DiIorio wrote his paper because organizations are challenged more and more today to do more with less. Metadata can help organizations do that by moving from paper-based systems to digital systems.
DiIorio is President of Code Crafters Inc, a consulting firm in Philadelphia. He’s a frequent speaker at local, regional and international SAS users conferences and has more than 200 published papers. DiIorio’s primary audience for this paper is the pharmaceutical and health care provider industries, but many SAS users will find this information valuable.
The premise for DiIorio’s presentation and paper is that the traditional paper-based system is inadequate and inefficient, but to become more efficient organizations must standardize data entry, formats and naming conventions. These organizations must also attach metadata to their digital documents so that they can quickly and easily retrieve them. Here are some of the truths DiIorio shared in his presentation:
- Metadata reduces costs and improves product quality by centralizing processes and data descriptions.
- Metadata can be used throughout the lifecycle of the project.
- Metadata is not useful by itself; programs must have nearly transparent access to the metadata. It should be seen as an opportunity for streamlining.
- Metadata-based systems require ongoing investment of time and resources – think of this as R&D.
- Metadata is best implemented gradually by a diverse team. Immediate, wide-spread implementation leads to immediate, wide-spread confusion. Remember, even a pilot project needs executive buy-in.
- Metadata needs to be treated as a valued corporate resource. Do regular backups, audit trails, version control and validation.
- Metadata will become essential to all aspects of the organization.
“Moving to a metadata environment is often a paradigm shift, but it is worth the investment,” said DiIorio.
Download DiIorio’s paper, Metadata: Some Fundamental Truths and search all of the NESUG conference proceedings. For those of you who are interested in incorporating metadata using SAS® 9.3, take a look at What’s New in the SAS Open Metadata Interface.
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