If you’re like many rising data management professionals, odds are you’ve been (or about to be) handed the following assignment. It goes something like this: “Bob / Sue / [your name here], we need a strategy for managing our metadata. You are our ‘metadata’ expert. Make it happen.” While this same assignment is being tasked out within more and more companies and governmental agencies around the world, the similarities end there. The ‘what’ is constant, but the ‘who,’ ‘when,’ ‘where,’ ‘why’ and ‘how’ vary greatly:
- ‘Who’ gets assigned to put this together? It’s not always the enterprise data architect or data architecture manager.
- ‘When does the strategy need to be executed? This ranges from 5-year plans to ‘We need it yesterday.’
- ‘Where’ is it implemented? Organizationally speaking, it ranges from one IT department to regulatory compliance to the entire enterprise.
- ‘Why’ do we need this? Rationales range from improved business decision making to ‘it helps the portal work.’
- ‘How’ do we implement the strategy? Largely driven by budget, it is everything from ‘shoe strings’ to multi-year grants.
Back to the similarities. “Where do I start?” is the usually the first thing everyone asks after receiving such a tasking. Unfortunately, the answer to that question is, “It depends.” More to the point, it depends on where you are now in your organization with respect to metadata. So it’s no wonder that metadata project managers are having a hard time getting personalized advice for their specific situations. While there’s a lot written about metadata management, it is either too general or too narrow for all but the most basic of metadata initiatives. And because metadata is applicable to so many aspects of IT and the business, it’s not all available in one place, which makes it hard to synthesize a direction appropriate for a particular organization.
That’s why the Meta-Data Professional Organization (MPO) was created: to give those starting or expanding a metadata initiative a place to go to get a quick fix on where they are and where they want to head with their initiative, and to allow them to network with others to seek advice and help in getting headed in the right direction.
I. The Meta-Data Professional Organization
The MPO is a non-profit professional organization comprised of business and IT professionals in all areas of metadata practice, including administrators, analysts, developers, architects and managers. It endeavors to bring together individuals with expertise and hands-on experience from all areas of private and public enterprise throughout the world, and to make this collective resource available to meta-data practitioners of all levels of experience. The MPO provides meta-data professionals with a community that fosters discussion, advancement and increased understanding of meta-data as it is applied in the field.
II. Building Bridges between Metadata Communities
The definition of metadata has progressed well beyond its Latin derivation, with many experts now offering a more comprehensive definition that encompasses all aspects of the data kept within an organization’s information systems, including what it means, where it is stored, where it comes from, who uses it, and more. But in recent years, the term ‘metadata’ has begun to surface in many different IT circles with the advent of new technologies, each with slightly different meaning and usage. Most of these newer technologies, including XML and services-oriented architectures (SOA), leverage their metadata to provide flexibility and integration.
But because many internal IT departments are often organized around expertise in these technologies, there is a tendency to view the metadata as an internal mechanism of the technology rather than as something to be shared or managed as an asset. As a result, different groups within the same organization are creating their own sets of metadata, often representing the same real world objects or concepts. Oblivious to each other’s efforts, they unknowingly create un-integrated sets of metadata. Without a plan for a comprehensive metadata architecture and strategy, the value of each set metadata cannot extend beyond the boundaries of their containing technologies.
By providing a single place for practitioners from different ‘walks’ of metadata to come together to share knowledge on experiences in integrating metadata across different technologies and organizational boundaries, the MPO can help metadata professionals collaborate to produce best practices that benefit the whole industry as well as the organizations of its individual members.
III. Members Helping Members
The MPO also recognizes that different practitioners are at different levels of knowledge and experience, so the MPO will offer multiple forums called metadata focus areas. The metadata focus areas will be based on different applications of metadata, whether it is for data warehousing, content management, taxonomies, architecture planning, or information asset management. There will even be focus areas dedicated for those just getting started with their metadata initiative, to include help with business cases, ‘home-grown’ repositories, and transitioning a metadata project to a full metadata management program.
In each of these focus areas, a member can seek out others who are more knowledgeable and experienced in that area for advice and mentoring. Because of the diverse applications of metadata, these same members may also volunteer to coach or mentor others in a different focus area in which they are more experienced. Members are free to cross-flow between focus areas as they like, to learn about other uses of metadata they believe will benefit their organizations. This ultimately will lead to more best practices and greater insight about metadata, both for the member and for the industry as a whole.
IV. MPO: The Premier Resource for Metadata Knowledge/Resources
The MPO believes that a broad understanding of metadata is critical to practitioners laying a solid metadata strategy for their organizations. It also recognizes that the metadata landscape is ever changing, and traditional means of knowledge acquisition is rarely current with the latest application of metadata. Therefore, providing its members a complete and comprehensive directory of metadata information and resources is an important goal of the MPO.
To that end, the MPO is setting up a portal for metadata resources, to include white papers, best practice articles, case studies, product reviews, conferences and training information, links to other resources, and other news related to the metadata management. In addition, the MPO will have webinars that address current topics as well as best practices discovered by members that may benefit the whole membership.
V. Vendor-Friendly Guidance and Feedback
While the MPO also recognizes the valuable contributions the meta-data vendor community makes to the field, we also recognize that it’s difficult to understand and anticipate users needs for metadata. The MPO can assist in this respect as well, providing the venue through which metadata practitioners can be heard with regards to what functionality and features are desired in a metadata tool or repository.
Through the collaborative efforts and best practices set by its members, the MPO will be able to act on behalf of the user and development communities to provide a united voice to vendors about metadata issues.
VI. Benefits of Joining the MPO
Whether you are a novice, or a seasoned metadata program manager extending your environment or just starting a ‘shoes-strings’ repository, join the MPO today and start reaping the benefits:
Members will gain:
- One-stop shopping for metadata research and resources.
- Network with other meta-data professionals in your own or other fields
- Access Members Only Web Content
- Read or be referred to Articles of Interest on metadata
- Interact on Discussion Groups
- Monthly Newsletter
- Discounts on publications / other events
VII. MPO Meetings, Webinars and Discounts to other Events
The MPO will hold Quarterly Member Meetings with dial-in for those who can’t attend in person as well as webinars.
The MPO will also have co-located meetings at various national and international conferences in the US and Europe. A special interest group is scheduled for September 20,2005 at the Information Quality Conference http://www.infoimpact.com/body/IQConf_2005_Houston/conf2005.html and a meeting is scheduled at the Data Management and Information Quality Conference on November 9, 2005 in London http://www.irmuk.co.uk/dm2005.
We look forward to hearing from you.
© The Meta-Data Professional Organization 2005