Why metadata is key to achieving controlled BI adoption featured image

Why metadata is key to achieving controlled BI adoption.

By Oskar Fahlvik
Published 23rd of April 2021

Metadata is a word that for most people is quite foreign and is often confused with data itself. But they are not the same. Rather, metadata is data that describes other data. If you think about a book (yes, a little bit old-school, I know), the data is the actual text and the metadata is the book itself and its structure — the paper, index, chapters, folder, etc. Without both parts, there really wouldn’t be anything to read. It’s also true that a successful book is not only about the story itself but very much about how it is packaged, structured, distributed, etc.

BI is not only about visualizations

The same is also true for a successful adoption of BI within any organization. BI is not only about the data and how it is visualized. Similarly, you must also be in control of the background material. Throughout the book, there must be a consistency between the different chapters, the story must be aligned and based on the same facts and stories. If not, it will be hard to keep the readers interested as they will not understand and trust what they are reading.

To publish a book does not only involve the author — to be successful there is a whole team that must work together. Behind each bestseller, there is a lot of hard and persistent work from a strong team. Successful BI adoption must be driven in the same way — all stakeholders are similarly important and must be involved and work towards a common goal.

Do your BI users trust their data?

In the world of BI and data and analytics, it is key to control all parts of the process — from the source of the data all the way to the hands of the BI users. Are you sure you are using the same and/or correct data in all your applications and visualizations? Do you have full consistency throughout all KPIs, graphs, visualizations etc.? Is it easy for your BI users to feel in control and fully trust what they are looking at?

I would claim that there are a lot of similarities between writing a book and driving successful BI adoption

  • You need to have a good story (data)
  • Consistency is key, whether it be between the chapters in a book or your BI applications and visualizations
  • Source material — is it quality assured, from the right sources, etc.?
  • Context — the reader or user needs context in order to understand what they have in front of them
  • A successful release involves all parties and their cooperation and collaboration (from idea to bestseller for a book and from data source to full-scale BI adoption for BI)

Unlock the full value of BI with metadata control

So, metadata and data need to work closely together and should not be exclusive to certain stakeholders but are important for everyone in the organization. You will not get the expected and potential value out of your data if you are not in control of your metadata. And the metadata is everywhere — in your source system, data warehouse, data lake, ETL tool, BI tool, visualization, report, etc.

Learn more about metadata and why it matters

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