How a Data Catalog Can Help Your Business Reach New Heights

Succeeding in business is a lot like climbing a mountain. It requires a good amount of planning, the right leaders and skill sets, and the proper tools to scale the mountain.

In today’s environment, that mountain is a mountain of data. A recent Forrester Consulting study found that businesses that rely on data management tools to make decisions are 58% more likely to beat their revenue goals than non-data-driven companies. And data-driven organizations are 162% more likely to significantly surpass revenue goals than their laggard counterparts.

An enterprise data catalog with embedded data governance and data privacy capabilities can ensure businesses have the requisite tools they need to scale the data mountain. A data catalog provides users across the enterprise with a centralized and secure resource through which they can access trusted data compliantly and see where datasets come from and where they are hosted.

Doing business today is challenging enough without having to grapple with how to get your hands on the right data at the right time or worry about using the data you do have. Too many organizations suffer from an inability to find, understand and trust their data, which really hinders their ability to reduce costs, improve efficiency and find new ways to drive growth. They have no clear data strategy and are unclear how to enable one across the organization.

Data should serve the business, and its customers and other stakeholders—it shouldn’t be the other way around. With a data catalog at hand, businesses will be ready for their next adventure.

The Importance of Trusted Data

An enterprise data catalog enables access to trusted and compliant data at scale across the whole enterprise. It breaks down legacy data silos and provides comprehensive visibility into all data across the data ecosystem with full context, accelerating business outcomes. It goes beyond indexing and business glossary functionality and supports data classification, data profiling, data standards, data certification, data quality, data lineage and data policy management, resulting in better understanding and trust in data, while protecting data from misuse.

This level of support eliminates the pain of searching through chaotic data swamps to find the right data. It gives access to trusted data to the relevant personnel throughout the enterprise, enabling higher confidence and trust in using data to enable insights and make decisions. It helps drive digital transformation by fostering an organizations’ data strategy.

While many data catalogs help users find data, easier access to data is only one piece of the puzzle. The crucial thing that organizations need to keep in mind is data is only valuable if it is trusted. If you do not trust your data, you cannot confidently use it to make business decisions, so it doesn’t matter how easily accessible it is. For data to be trusted, it must be accurate and made accessible with the appropriate controls and in accordance with data policies. A trusted dataset is one that has been vetted and certified as high quality (accurate and complete) and that can be trusted by those who own and are the experts on that data.

That’s why organizations need an enterprise data catalog with embedded and comprehensive data governance capabilities. By curating data assets that go into the data catalog, organizations are assured that only accurate, complete and trustworthy data is made available to the business. The alternative is crowdsourcing metadata and data assets, which is pulling metadata in from any source regardless if it’s trusted or used.

An enterprise data catalog improves business agility and mitigates risk by combining easy access to trusted data with security and privacy controls, leading to broader use of data in innovative ways. Such a data catalog makes it easier to see the data that’s delivering value, maximizing data-driven behaviors across the enterprise. It provides business context around your data so you can better understand data, easily determine which data is available and relevant across the organization and effectively use this data to make impactful business decisions. Access to trusted data speeds up time to insight and allows your organization to adapt to the trends of the market as they occur, giving you more time to spend innovating.

The Benefits of a Data Catalog

The ability to bring disparate data together to answer business questions can drive customer acquisition, product innovation and pricing optimization, necessary elements for revenue growth. Strong data governance is required to promote enterprise-wide operational efficiency, leading to supply chain optimization and production, marketing and sales efficiency.

A data catalog with embedded governance capabilities is critical to advancing a data-enabled enterprise. It ensures that management of all data – including reference data—is consistent, secure, and organized and meets the required policies. It reduces third-party data spend and consolidates reporting across the enterprise. It empowers business users with automated, yet straightforward, capabilities to streamline trusted business decisions.

How can various functions within the enterprise put a data catalog to best use?

To help answer business questions, an analyst can leverage a data catalog to discover, evaluate, trust, collaborate on, share and access data and reports that he needs to perform analyses and draw insights. A data catalog provides a centralized location that provides quick access to the necessary data, so the analyst spends less time searching for data and more time analyzing data.

A data scientist can use a data catalog to search for and easily find data to train her models or even find trusted models that she can use. Here, too, a centralized location is key, allowing the data scientist to quickly and easily shop for the data or models she needs, so her time is freed up for analyzing data.

A data steward can employ a data catalog to understand which data is available across the enterprise, so that he can begin to govern it. He uses a data catalog to centralize and organize information about business term definitions, data quality, ownership, location, process, policies and access privileges. Additionally, a data catalog can help him understand which data he should focus his efforts on managing and maintaining. He also can certify data assets in the catalog so that businesses users know which data assets can be trusted.

Data Catalog Must-Have Capabilities

To be used enterprise wide, a data catalog requires built-in, comprehensive data governance, data privacy and security capabilities that promote understanding and trust in data.

It’s important not just to identify and catalog data, but also to provide context around the data so business users can understand if it’s the right data for their needs. Also, you must make sure that the data in the catalog is trusted—that it uses curated metadata from trusted sources coupled with a process to certify the data sets, metrics, etc. in use. If business users don’t think they can trust the data in the catalog, they won’t use it. Users need to have the confidence that they can find what they need in the data catalog and trust it.

To leverage your data catalog to its full advantage, start by identifying the use case(s) to tackle first that will help get to initial value quickly. It’s important to make sure the objectives of the data catalog are aligned with your organization’s strategic business goals and priorities. To get buy-in across the enterprise, leverage internal advocates who will help evangelize adoption.

It’s also worthwhile to invest in data literacy. Tap into educational resources to learn how to manage and use the data catalog, and into customer communities to learn best practices, tips and tricks from other customers.

If your company has the bandwidth, create a Center for Enablement that helps promote best practices, offers training and acts as a central repository for the educational resources. To avoid missteps, make sure your implementation team is experienced, even if it requires bringing in external partners.

In the COVID-19 times, access to data has become more important than ever. Organizations need to be able make data-driven decisions about the future of their businesses. Yet too many organizations suffer from an inability to find, understand and trust their data. This hinders their ability to reduce costs, improve efficiency and find new ways to drive growth.

To become truly data driven, organizations need an enterprise data catalog with embedded, comprehensive data governance capabilities to enable access to trusted data at scale and build a data literate culture. By ensuring that trusted data is shared across the enterprise, organizations are able to make strategic decisions and drive important business outcomes.