How to Master Your Data Management with Data Catalogs

Infragistics . 9/20/21 Photo by John O’Boyle

Data catalogs have become a core component of data management, providing business users with a powerful tool to easily find and access trusted data in the moment when they most need it. Organizations that have implemented a successful data catalog frameworks are seeing improvements in not only the speed and quality of their data analysis, but also in the engagement of users working with data.

A data catalog’s neatly organized inventory of data assets across all data sources helps organizations become more data-driven and are guiding users to better understand the importance of data. Due to their ability to find, inventory and analyze vastly distributed and diverse data assets, data catalogs are a must-have for any enterprise.

What Is Data Management?

Data management is the practice of collecting, organizing, protecting, and using an organization’s data securely, efficiently, and cost-effectively. The goal of data management is to help organizations and their business users optimize the use of data so that they can make better decisions.

What Is a Data Catalog?

A data catalog is an inventory of all your organization’s data sets, visualizations, and dashboards, designed to help any user quicky find the most appropriate data for any analytical or business purpose. It puts data at your fingertips, empowering more effective decisions.

Why Do You Need a Data Catalog?

Data catalogs serve as a centralized repository for business data, allowing users to discover, curate, categorize, and share data assets, data sets, and analytical models in order to drive better decisions and outcomes in the enterprise. However, data users must be able to understand the data insights and transform them into meaningful information.

A data catalog

Recent research by IBM shows that organizations spend as much as 70% of their time searching for data and only 30% of their time utilizing it. Data catalogs provide users with a unified view and easy access to all of their organization’s data so they can spend less time searching for it and more time analyzing and drawing insights. In addition, a good data catalog is a prerequisite for deploying actionable machine learning and artificial intelligence to reduce human errors, accelerate time to analysis, and augment data preparation.

How Do Data Catalogs Improve Data Management?

Data catalogs can help you master your modern data management processes through:

Data access – Data access becomes a seamless user experience thanks to the data catalog implementing the access protocols directly or by interoperating with access technologies. Data access functions include compliance of sensitive data, protection for security, as well as data privacy.

Data search and discovery – A good data catalog has flexible searching and filtering capabilities to allow users to quickly find relevant sets of data for analytics and other business purposes. These capabilities include a search of facets, keywords, and business terms which are especially valuable for non-technical data users. This data catalog feature is completed by ranking search results by relevancy and frequency of use.

Business glossary – A business glossary is a document that enables data owners and data stewards to build and manage a common business vocabulary. Through the business glossary, users can link business terms to data and its documentation. Its main purpose is to help data users gain a better understanding of the datasets in an organization’s databases.

Metadata curation – Data curation is a metadata management activity that is used to organize and manage a collection of datasets. Data catalogs are essential to data curation technology making metadata accessible and informative for all data consumers, especially for those with non-technical knowledge.

Data analysis – A data catalog integrated with a data analytics platform allows data users to easily find datasets within the catalog to perform data analytics and catalog operations. The most effective tools offer advanced data operations and visualization features.

Data lineage – Data lineage helps users understand the origin and destination of any data asset in the data catalog — who uses it, how it’s being used, how different pieces of the data are related to one another, and more. It is essential for meeting regulatory requirements for data preparation and as such, it is an integral part of any data catalog solution.

Data governance – A data catalog ensures users can access data compliantly and securely according to their needs. That means that although anyone within an organization has the same access to the data catalog, only users with the right permissions will be able to access certain data sets, thereby protecting sensitive data that not everyone should be able to see.

When considering a data catalog tool remember that the best data catalog is the one that helps your organization become more data-driven and  empowers users to make the most out of the data. It should support users in making more intelligent decisions at the point of impact. The best data catalogs are fully integrated, empowering users to access all relevant data across the enterprise and make smarter decisions.

About the Author

Dean Guida is the entrepreneur behind the enterprise software company Infragistics. Now he’s doing it again with the digital-workplace platform Slingshot — Guida’s first foray into tech-driven team performance. Dean bootstrapped Infragistics 31 years ago and has grown it into a multi-million-dollar company without accepting outside funding. Infragistics now has 250 employees and offices in the U.S., Japan, Uruguay, Bulgaria, UK and India. The company’s client roster boasts 100% of the S&P 500, including Intuit, Exxon and Morgan Stanley, and its enterprise-ready UX and UI toolkits are in use by more than two million developers and designers worldwide.