Metadata Management: What Is It, and Why Do You Need It?

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In today’s modern workplace content creation is almost constant. New files like contracts, presentations, photography, and creative files are being added daily.

When these files are created, inherently, so is their metadata — or data about data. Metadata includes things like the document name, date, size, and creator. 

As a result, companies are awash with content and its related metadata. They need a system for keeping it all organized. That’s where metadata management comes in. 

What is metadata management?

Metadata management is the administration of metadata in order to make it easier to access and retrieve content. It involves creating and managing a repository in which files are consistently tagged with the right metadata. 

Metadata management systems have been around for a long time. For example, the earliest known library classification scheme is thought to be the Pinakes created by Callimachus — a scholar at the Library of Alexandria during the third century BC. But today, the term is typically used in relation to digital media. 

How metadata management is used?

Metadata is what allows content in a digital repository to be found. It organizes everything into buckets or categories and powers search tools. That’s why metadata is said to be as valuable as the content itself. Because what good is great content if you can never find it again? 

A metadata framework, or schema, is comprised of metadata fields that are determined based on the kind of content in a repository. For example, a collection of photographs might have metadata fields like photographer, date, caption, and keywords. 

There are a range of different kinds of metadata fields, but they all fall into two categories:

  • Free text metadata fields: which allow users to enter information freely
  • Controlled vocabulary: which require users to choose from a list of pre-set options


Regardless of the metadata field type, each field should be completed with accurate metadata values to see the best results. Though it's good to note that using controlled vocabulary fields will make it easier to be consistent. Whereas opting for free text fields requires more detailed training and policies to ensure quality control.

When it comes to managing any metadata schema, policies and processes are key. Having a system of guidelines in place helps control and enhance the metadata terms — and their relation to each other — over time. Using a strategic approach to create and curate metadata ensures that tagged content is organized, findable, and shareable throughout its lifecycle.


Why you need a metadata management system

Having a metadata management system in place allows those adding metadata to do so quickly and accurately while ensuring that people throughout an organization can find the content they need with ease. Ultimately, metadata management improves a wide range of marketing and creative workflows.

Managing your metadata can seem overwhelming if you’re not using the right tools. A digital asset management (DAM) platform can help. DAM systems are built to facilitate metadata management for an extensive range of content — from photography to video, and everything in-between. They also offer a suite of security features to control content access and distribution, and tools to support creative workflows. 

Learn more about taking control of your metadata management with DAM and the Widen Collective®

Topics: DAM

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