File systems typically only collect a few minor data points about the information they store. The data points usually include Filename, Creation, Modification, Access dates, File type (a 3 or 4 letter extension like .docx, pdf, or .jpg), and system-based attributes (for example, read-only and hidden.) Some applications like office suites, media creation apps, and various devices such as digital cameras and smartphones may generate additional, or custom, metadata to further describe the file’s contents. These programs and devise typically embed this “metadata” in the file, therefore hidden and underutilized.

With the ideal software applications, this embedded contextual data could be extracted and added to the metadata crucial in determining the document’s contents or value.

Metadata defines the criteria required to establish long-term tiering, retention, deletion, security, and accessibility policies. Currently, there is no industry-wide metadata model that determines universal, business-related fields to tackle policy needs. Nor are there standards for other technical areas such as ownership, the nation of origin, privacy, regulatory controls, legal hold, and other tags that address specific business requirements.

Because of the lack of industry standardization of metadata, organizations need to associate with data storage vendors that know the challenges of business data and will help specify a long-term
metadata framework for the organization.

While nearly all data storage providers offer some form of metadata tagging, few provide advanced enrichment, indexing, research, or metadata-driven disposition capabilities. Gradually integrating these technologies will become the basis for deriving the company value enabled by rich metadata.

In the next post, we will examine Reference and Mobile data as it relates to proper Data Governance.