In my last column, we discussed the two types of metadata: technical and business. The fact that there are two metadata types may be old news to some of you, but plenty of people still succumb to the classic metadata trap of not really understanding what kind of metadata the business users need.

This unhappy scenario begins when the IT staff thinks that the business users want all the technical, tool-specific metadata. But that's not what the business users want at all - they want to know what the data represents. So, despite this misunderstanding, the metadata project gets underway. The IT staff collects the technical metadata (thinking it's what the business users want) and confirms this hypothesis with the business group's power users. The power users are happy because, after all, they are power users - not typical business users. They think that technical, tool-specific stuff is great. Then, the so-called business metadata is rolled out to the "real" business users - and they don't know what to do with it. They become frustrated and label the metadata project a failure.

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