3 Questions You Should Ask Before Investing in a Data Catalog

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The decision has been made, your team has finally come to the conclusion that it’s time to invest in one of the industry leading buzzwords: a data catalog.  While the idea of a data catalog is straight forward, the more challenging aspect is what functionality it should have and what benefits end-users can expect. 

To help you sort it out, here are three simple questions to ask yourself and your organization before investing in a data catalog: 

1. What is a data catalog?

Why is it necessary to define this internally?  Doesn’t everyone already know what this is?  Well, the answer to that is “no.” There’s actually a lot of misconceptions on what a data catalog is and does, so it’s critical to have your team aligned with how you define data catalog.  This will ensure that there are no gaps with the product you are looking to invest in.

So, what is a data catalog?

A data catalog is a place that shows what data assets you have and where they are located.  To be clear, a data asset is any entity that contains data (reports, databases, websites etc.).

Why is a data catalog important?

Data catalogs help reduce the time it takes to search for data and opens up time for you to actually use that data to your organization’s advantage. Your data catalog can also provide an excellent foundation for you to tie any data asset to your organization’s goals and initiatives.

2. What functionality should our data catalog have? 

It’s important to spend time identifying what functionality you’re going to require as an organization. Why? Because the functionality people use and how they use it can differ drastically.  Your desired functionality list is also going to provide you with key information that will help you select the right vendor and ultimately choose the right product.

What should a data catalog be able to do?

In a nutshell, data catalogs should be able to discover what data is available, know where to find it and understand if that information can be trusted.

Anything else you should consider?

Definitely! A data catalog should be able to provide real time integration with your data sources so that you are continuously populating the data catalog with the data that matters to you.   It should also be simple to use and include the ability to search your databases. And lastly, and possibly most importantly, a data catalog should allow users to connect data assets to organizational goals and initiatives.  This is how you will see and measure how data drives the business.

3. Who will benefit from a data catalog? 

It’s key to know who within the organization, both business and IT users, would benefit from the data catalog.  You’re going to need to involve them in determining what functionality you’re looking for (see question 2 above.) Also, involving them will prevent your organization from investing in multiple solutions, wasting valuable budget, creating confusion, duplicating information – and ultimately causing your organization to operate inefficiently. 

< You can download our guide to Getting Started with a Data Catalog to learn even more. >

You are now armed to have a productive conversation within your organization about what you need to start creating your functionality wish list! When you’re ready, so are we! Check out our very own data governance and stewardship platform, Information Value Management® and contact us. We’d love to hear more about your project and discuss how we can help.

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