What’s the deal with metadata?

March 16, 2022

2 minute read

Transforming Information SilosLearn about automating enhancements in PDFs in this blog post

We talk about metadata a lot on our blog. It’s a vital component for automating document-centric workflows such as adding watermarks, headers and footers and much more. But what is metadata really? Let’s get to the nitty-gritty of metadata in this post.

Metadata 101

Metadata provides information about the meaning of other data, offering a way to provide context, to simplify categorization, and to describe relationships between various data elements. For example, specific metadata must be added to create a compliant PDF file, defining document properties and specifying conformance. Because of its flexibility, metadata can be adapted to many situations and environments. Adlib solutions offer fine-grained control and access to a document’s metadata, accommodating many different business processes and requirements.

The Subject, Title and Author are all metadata.  This is metadata that is normally contained within the document, but not visible on the pages of the document.

Status, Department, Creation Date, Checked Out and many more are also all examples of metadata.  This is metadata that is normally associated with the document, but contained within an ECM such as SharePoint, Documentum, OpenText and others.

The role of metadata in business

Metadata makes it possible to add business information to documents and vastly simplifies search processes. The Adlib product can expose metadata within a document and act upon metadata in a workflow.  Additionally through Professional Services, Adlib can deliver document content as metadata into an ECM system.  

With metadata, a number of workflows can be automated. Read more about the benefits of automation with metadata in this blog post.

Benefits of using metadata correctly

When used correctly and consistently, the benefits of metadata are vast when used with Adlib PDF:

  • Upgrading documents with add-on metadata: Through sophisticated business rules and logic, Adlib can interrogate embedded metadata automatically during the PDF conversion process and use it to further classify documents in the repository —making stored information more accessible.
  • Extracting and incorporating metadata from enterprise systems: Many enterprise systems—including SharePoint environments, product lifecycle management, and enterprise content management systems—use metadata as a core part of its functionality.  However, when you retrieve a document and forward it to a colleague or other user who is not accessing it within the repository, they will not see that vital information.  Adlib can embed that metadata into the document, either as invisible metadata for further down-stream automation, or expose it as watermark, header, footer or other content on the visible page so the recipient can view that information without access to your ECM.
  • Using rules, metadata can trigger operations within the workflow: Metadata that is associated or embedded within a document can trigger certain types of operations, such as adding watermarks to the pages of a document to indicate status or querying the metadata in the ECM system to determine a document’s storage destination. This helps create a smoother, more efficient workflow.

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