Metadata expert insights: Azar Hussain
Azar Hussain is Head of Data at Faber & Faber. His key responsibilities include managing the internal and external flow of data and developing and implementing new information systems. Here he shares what he has learned about managing metadata:
1) What is your biggest lesson learned about managing your metadata at Faber?
Probably that data is inherently chaotic. Trying to impose order on it is a constant battle. Or rather, a full time job.
2) What levels/qualities do you think metadata needs to achieve, in order to be effective?
Book Industry Communication (BIC) have set out BIC Basic as a minimum in terms of metadata. Of course, there’s a lot more that you can do, but BIC Basic is a good starting point.
3) What tools and services have you tried to help with organising and enriching your metadata? Which was the best?
Having a central database which outputs metadata via the ONIX standard will best serve you and your partners. It’s also important to have efficient in house processes to manage metadata and to explain to users why they need to follow them.
4) If you could offer one piece of advice to anyone tasked with managing their company’s metadata, what would that be?
Think it through.
5) How do you think the management of metadata will evolve in the future?
It certainly seems that metadata, like everything else, is getting more complicated. Metadata managers will need to be actively involved in developing and implementing standards to help manage metadata. There will also be a need for increasingly sophisticated software to store, manage and output metadata.
6) How important is good metadata to your company?
It’s vital. Internally, good metadata allows us to manage schedules, produce books and distribute them. Externally, it’s needed by our partners and data aggregators such as Nielsen, Bowker, BDS and others. This in turn makes our books are available to readers worldwide. Without good metadata none of this would be possible.
7) How has your company benefited from good metadata?
Having good metadata means internally you have a central, reliable source of information which users can trust. This in turn allows us to feed out accurate metadata in good time which gives our titles a head start in terms of sales e.g. preorders. We’ve certainly seen a clear relationship between good metadata and increased sales and there’s a lot of research that supports that.