At data.world, we’re proud to be recognized as a premier data catalog in the data governance industry. And we were particularly proud to be named “a leader among Enterprise Data Catalogs for DataOps” in The Forrester Wave™ in Forrester’s Q2 2022 report on enterprise data catalog vendors.
But while it’s nice to be considered among the best, that might not mean much to you if you’re not entirely sure what a data catalog is. (It’s ok if you don’t, but as soon as you learn you’re going to understand exactly why your business needs one.)
What is an enterprise data catalog?
Organizations today have vast amounts of data, all generated from disparate sources. Data management and data governance are critical to ensuring this data is accurate, complete, and accessible across the business. An enterprise data catalog helps organizations keep track of their data assets, ensuring that data is well-managed and secure throughout its lifecycle, and that data privacy is protected.
It’s a central repository of metadata — aka “data about data” — that provides a comprehensive overview of all data assets within your organization. And it's a crucial tool for modern data management, enabling your business to effectively manage, understand, and make informed decisions based on your data.
Why does your organization need an enterprise data catalog?
In today's data-driven world, businesses are generating and collecting vast amounts of “big data,” and those that can effectively harness the knowledge gleaned from the analysis of that data to bolster their decision making possess an incredible advantage. But without proper management, this data can quickly become overwhelming and difficult to use.
An enterprise data catalog helps to solve this problem by providing a single source of truth for all data assets within an organization, making it easier to understand, manage, and make accurate data-driven decisions.
Benefits of an enterprise data catalog
An Enterprise Data Catalog provides your business with many benefits, including but not limited to:
With an enterprise data catalog, your business can establish and enforce policies and standards for data management and use. This helps to ensure data privacy and security, and ensures that your data is used in a consistent and compliant manner.
An enterprise data catalog gives you a centralized repository for data quality rules, empowering your business to monitor the quality of your data over time and identify issues that need to be addressed.
With an enterprise data catalog, you can easily discover, understand, and make informed decisions about data assets. This helps to reduce the time and effort required to find the data you need to make important business decisions.
An enterprise data catalog enables you to provide a self-service analytics platform for data discovery and understanding. This helps to reduce the burden on your IT team and empowers your business users to find the data they need without having to go through IT.
Your enterprise Data Catalog includes a business glossary that defines all of the business terms used in your organization. This provides business context for your different data sets, and makes it easy for everyone within your business — technical or not — to understand the meaning of your data and how it should be used.
The metadata management capabilities included in your data catalog make it easy to manage information about your data, such as data quality, data lineage, and data privacy.
Your data catalog will help integrate data from across your data ecosystem, including on-premises, data lakes, and data warehouses.
An enterprise data catalog provides your employees with a user-friendly experience, making it easy for them to find, understand, and use your data for any number of use cases.
Using your enterprise data catalog
Effectively utilizing the benefits of your enterprise data catalog requires a combination of metadata management, data governance, and data integration. Here are some steps to get started:
The first thing you need to do to put your data catalog to work is to curate the data. This involves identifying all of the organization's data assets, including data sets, data sources, and data types.
The next step is to populate your catalog’s metadata management system with a business glossary, data quality rules, data lineage, and data privacy information. (data.world’s Eureka Automations™ make deploying and managing your catalog faster, easier, and smarter. Use templated SPARQL scripts to automate imports and enrichment of your data catalog including auto-generation of business glossary and relationships.)
Your enterprise data catalog should be integrated with other data management tools to support your data workflow, such as data warehouses, data lakes, and business intelligence systems. In totality, these combined tools form the basis of your modern data stack. Connectors and APIs connect the enterprise data catalog to other systems, making it easy for users to access data from a variety of sources.
Data science and machine learning
Data science and machine learning can be used to automate the process of cataloging and managing data, making it easier for users to find and access the data they need. (As mentioned above, data.world’s suite of automations make deploying and managing your catalog faster and easier.)
Data stewards and data owners
Appointing data stewards and data owners is critical for ensuring the accuracy, consistency and completeness of your enterprise data catalog. Your data owners are subject matter experts in the area of the business in which their data is produced, allowing them to understand your organization’s data in context and ensure it makes sense.
Data stewards are responsible for managing and controlling data across your organization. They are responsible for establishing data standards, policies, procedures, and guidelines for data management, including data quality, data security, data privacy, and data stewardship.
Already referenced above as a benefit, establishing data governance processes is a crucial step in getting your enterprise data catalog up and running, as they ensure that your data is well-managed and that data privacy is protected. Data governance establishes a framework for managing and controlling data across your organization. It involves establishing policies, procedures, and guidelines for data management, including data quality, data security, data privacy, and data stewardship.
A critical tool for data management
As Gartner has noted, an enterprise data catalog is a critical tool for modern data management and essential for businesses looking to maximize the value of their big data. It provides a centralized repository of metadata that helps your organization effectively manage, understand, and make informed decisions with your data.
Whether you're using an on-premises solution or — ideally — a cloud-based solution, the benefits of an enterprise data catalog are significant, and by adopting your own, you can improve your data management initiatives.