My last few columns dealt with managing data quality. The scope included data stewardship, data profiling, data improvements and the data model. These are all needed to manage data as an asset. Another important tool in managing data is the application system and database that store information about this asset. Within the technical community, this is often called "metadata." The name for this application system puts a technical spin on the system, and that, in turn, contributes to difficulties organizations encounter in trying to gain executive and business support for this important tool, which is needed to manage data.

In this column and the next, I'll explore the metadata needed in each of the data lifecycle steps - planning, acquisition, maintenance, dissemination and disposal. In subsequent columns, I'll explore the application system, database (often called the metadata repository), and roles and responsibilities. It is important to recognize that the metadata application system and database should be developed incrementally. Its content and development sequence should be driven by business priorities.

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