As a sales engineer, it’s my job to help companies start their data catalog journeys off on the right foot. Over the years, I’ve worked with a number of organizations that are excited about the prospects of what a data catalog can do. Many achieve success. Others struggle. The best ones, however, all follow a pretty common pattern. 

If you’re championing a data catalog initiative in your organization, check out these five tips to success. Hope they are helpful on your journey!

Pick a business unit that is ready for change

Catalogs typically require new habits to make them successful. As you think about where to start your data catalog pilot, look for business partners that are motivated for -- or at least open to -- changing how they work today. This is not the time to engage the set-in-their-ways curmudgeons. Get some early momentum. Then bring them along later. 

Target transparency first, not control

Many people’s first instinct is to lay the ground rules for the catalog, to provide people with requirements for participating. They may even build a structured worksheet for data workers to fill out before participating. Don’t! This discourages participation and will ensure low adoption.

Instead, let your data masses come as they are. Load the data definitions as they are currently written. Gain acceptance, investment, interest, and participation BEFORE adding rules and regulations. Think about it. If people and data never show up, you will have nothing to control anyway.

Learn more about agile data governance.

Identify the appropriate ‘carrots & sticks’

Almost no one takes on a new data catalog and/or governance initiative for fun. And those who do, often go it alone. For everyone else, focus on what carrots you can offer -- what pain you will solve for your collaborators on this journey, and what benefits they will enjoy. Show them how great the new world can be. 

Many organizations have initiatives already underway to become more agile and data-driven. Get management to see that your data catalog is a vital part of this transformation. A few top-down orders -- the proverbial sticks -- will motivate people to participate. No two data cultures are the same, so work all the angles at your disposal.

Ensure the first thing you build delivers obvious value

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. What you choose to use as your pilot use case is as important as who you choose to join you on the journey. Envision an outcome that will get the attention of your broader business audience -- a showpiece that you can evangelize with to get more groups on board. Technical wins or obscure problems solved will not motivate the masses. You need a public win that everyone understands. 

Think about the careers of the people around you

Data is driving the future of … well … everything. Leading a transformative data initiative within your organization can be a boon to your career -- and to the careers of those smart enough to join you on the journey. Find ambitious people who see the world as you do, and help them envision a more impactful role as data takes the lead. Do you work with a future Chief Data Officer? We are all interested in improving the lives of our families and remembering that can help you find the allies you need.

Ready to get started? Reach out and let us know.