This month, I will digress from my descriptions of how new technology impacts the marketing process. In this column, I will delve into a discussion that is usually considered more technical than business, more IT than marketing – the importance of meta data. Meta data management is, in fact, a critical business issue, even though you may never have heard the term before. Decisions on how meta data is managed, or if meta data is managed (a more likely question) will significantly impact resource allocation, managerial ability to conduct business analysis and the evaluation of performance. As a result, managers from marketing, finance and many other departments should not be ignorant of the decisions that IT may be making in this critical area. By providing input and support for addressing meta data management in a comprehensive plan, managers can help their organization to expand the use of technology more effectively and efficiently.

What is meta data in the first place, and why does it matter? When an IT staff member says that meta data is “data about data,” they are telling you nothing. It is not that they are being deliberately obtuse. The description simply does not indicate the critical nature of meta data.

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