How to Take Advantage of Metadata

By Carl Weise posted 06-28-2012 16:42


Four Functions of Metadata

Metadata can be defined as “structured information about a document, data, or other information content”.  Examples of metadata are author, title, subject keywords, date of publication, security classification, access permissions, and rights information and so on.

A metadata schema or metadata framework is an organized table that specifies what metadata will be gathered, how it is defined, how it will be collected, and what purposes it should serve.

Metadata is used for four main purposes:

To identify content

To manage content

To retrieve content

To track usage of content


1. Identify Content

Metadata identifies content to give it a unique characterization distinguishing it from other pieces of content.

Identification metadata is descript metadata, and can include elements such as:

Unique resource identifier (URI)

Filename or file reference number




2. Manage Content

Metadata plays a very important function in helping systems manage content.  This is so that the system knows, for example, who should have access to the document, which applications should be used to display the file, what operations should be conducted on a file at given times or within certain workflows.

In this function, administrative and structural metadata capture things like:

Version number

Archiving date

Security and access permissions

Rights management settings

Retention schedule

File format

Linked resources


3. Retrieve Content

Helping users to find and retrieve content is the function of metadata that is most closely connected with taxonomies.

In this function, descriptive metadata includes things like:

Taxonomy topics

Subject keywords added by users

Document descriptions


4. Track usage of content

A more sophisticated use of metadata is to track the usage of a document and to connect content to other content.  A well-known example of this is the Amazon message “people who bought this book also bought…”  This information is collected automatically by the system and it associates content based on tracking user behaviors upon the content.

In this function, examples of usage metadata might be:

User ratings

Downloads data (who has downloaded it, or how often)

Forwarding data (who has forwarded it, to whom)

Search terms (search terms used immediately prior to a download)

Links data (number and source of hyperlinks pointing to the content; links from the content to other pieces of content)

Metadata is critical information about information and content that allows us to navigate, find, and manage our key business information assets.


Tell us about your efforts to create a metadata model within your organization?

Tell us about your success in establishing controlled vocabularies within your company?


I will be speaking at the following events:

August 13th– 17th, 2012 AIIM ERM Master class in Chicago, IL

August 21st– 24th, 2012 AIIM ECM Master class in Dallas, TX


#ERM #ElectronicRecordsManagement #ECM #Taxonomy #metadata
1 comment


07-12-2012 10:04

I am AIIM Professional Member since 2003 and presently trying to explore a Document Imaging/Content Management business set up in Dubai,UAE.I am wondering if there is a way to use your expertise,in order
to provide customized solutions to our current and potential clients.
Syed Raza
Silex Systems L.L.C,Dubai,UAE