Anyone reviewing the first three video tutorials in our most recent set of video training content on SharePoint, Cheap Thrills in SharePoint will note a lot of discussion on what has become a very familiar topic across many of our sets of SharePoint specialized training — Metadata. It’s worth taking a post to this blog to present an argument for metadata, as certainly a very important and valuable feature of SharePoint, any set of stakeholders from almost any sized organization will want to capture.
Online interaction between personnel, whether in the form of email exchange, or even the processes of adding items to a SharePoint list, or a document to a shared library, is facilitated by the use of strings of text. These strings are lumped into the bucket of “unstructured data”. In other words, users aren’t creating this data while working in any particular client server application, which, by definition, would constitute a “structured data” computing environment. Rather, this data is created by personnel as they use so-called “universal clients” — any of the popular web browsers — to interact with Software as a Service (SaaS) processes running in private and/or public clouds. Any large SharePoint implementation running behind a corporate firewall is, in effect, a private cloud. Any process running as a form on a web page, or some other type of interactive scenario, for my purpose here in this post, amounts to a SaaS.
Metadata provides a set of containers, which stakeholders can apply, to group unstructured data into sets. Once unstructured data is collected into sets, then queries can be run against any of the sets to parse out specific targeted patterns within the text data syntax. In turn, once these patterns have been identified, and captured, then they can be used within further analytics.
But the same metadata containers can also be used to collect similar information from online interaction, from the same set of personnel, as they complete work elsewhere online, and with other SaaS tools. Text data is text data. The universality of this medium of data communications means SharePoint stakeholders emphasizing metadata will stand to benefit as an organization considers reusing existing tool sets for other types of data produced by its personnel. Let’s not lose site of the definition of “BigData”. In fact, all of this unstructured data, which makes up “BigData” lends itself to metadata tools.
If your organization sees the value implicit to SharePoint’s metadata features, but would like to learn further about how tools can be developed, which are also useful for unstructured data collected elsewhere, please contact us.
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