A Q&A with Darren Peirce
On a recent episode of DM Radio, our CTO, Darren Peirce joined Bloor Group host, Eric Kavanagh, to share his perspective on why metadata matters more than ever since the advent of big data, and as organizations strive to maximize business process automation.
What’s the significance of metadata today?
Let’s first define what metadata is: At its highest level, its “data about data”. Good metadata definition provides the context necessary to use data effectively. Without good metadata, most data is meaningless. For instance, if I gave you a number – 8 million – it would be meaningless without the context. Whereas, if I said product line xyz delivered 8 million in revenue in Q1 of 2019 in the US market, that information is a lot more useful.
In today’s world we are overwhelmed by data from billions of new sources and about new things, but without having the corresponding context for this data, we’re unable to turn it into either information or action.
What’s your approach to metadata?
At Magnitude –across all our brands – we view metadata as the secret sauce that delivers differentiated value to our customers. There’s a dirty secret that 80 percent of the time spent by businesses is on preparing data for use. We are focused on taking a business-content-centric approach that completely reverses that equation to bring significant value for organizations out of the box.
We’ve developed a set of products and tools to bridge between business consumable insights and the raw data. In fact, we’ve pre-packaged thousands of metadata objects and the tools to bring them to life that delivers built-in intelligence. We’re making it easier to extract more value from the customizations and configurations that you’ve made to your business applications and ensure that it’s personalized for your use and appropriately secure and limited.
How is Magnitude solving the metadata management challenge?
We’re helping organizations get value from their strategic investments in core business applications, such as SAP and Oracle ERPs. Today, many enterprises struggle with the progressive unbundling of these monolithic applications and the corresponding fragmentation of the data as cloud-based apps proliferate.
Specifically, we bring value in three areas:
- Firstly, we deliver solutions to allow customers to get access to their data.
- Secondly, we allow customers to manage that data more effectively to allow knowledge workers to manage and crunch the data.
- We do so by providing data management solutions around these core applications to significantly improve the productivity of the tremendous data maintenance that occurs every day, as well as the actual process execution. At the heart of these solutions, we embed metadata to vastly accelerate the time to value and increase process automation.
- Thirdly, we’re delivering operational intelligence using the information in these core applications with our packaged operational analytics solutions
- For instance, using our business metadata, we can help supply chain and procurement leaders figure out their critical shipments of raw materials that will impact their ability to satisfy the manufacturing of products in time to meet critical customer orders.
At the end of the day, the metadata is essential for making this information turnkey.
What are your reflections on process automation and digital transformation as they relate to metadata?
It was Ralph Kimball, affectionately known as the grandfather of data warehousing, who first introduced the notion that there is a third category of metadata (beyond technical and business) – namely, process metadata. Most organizations are just beginning their journey to deliver process automation … and process metadata is critical to automation.
We’re now at the convergence point of some major disruptions – from machine learning, ubiquitous availability of computing power, unified access to data inside and outside the enterprise, to the race toward automation of everything possible. The consequences of these disruptors are still vastly under recognized. To benefit from these disruptions, requires the automation of process execution and the corresponding data maintenance in the enterprise. Those who don’t will drown under the weight of the data maintenance burden.
Any automation requires sufficiently deep understanding of a process to be translated into machine instructions. It is truly the key to unlocking the next wave of automation and we’re living through this period as we speak!
What other ways are you helping to advance metadata management?
Metadata enables people and systems to turn bits and bytes into insights and actions. It is the foundation that bridges the gap between data and information. Adding more metadata layers higher up the stack can make the translation easier for business use. For instance, we have built business semantics directly into our connectivity layer in our Magnitude Gateway offering.
You cannot automate a process without having metadata describe what those instructions are. Metadata is at the center of that universe, and that’s why metadata is the cornerstone of our solutions – from pre-packaged metadata objects to bridge between business consumable insights and the raw data to built-in intelligence.