We have previously talked about What Is Data Lineage and Why Your Company Should Implement It and in this blog post we are going to take a close look at why the visualization of the data lineage is important.
With today’s data chaos that are copious reports, multiple datasets, numerous data warehouses, all spread wide over multiple systems, the need to bring clarity to everyone involved is paramount, especially as this problem is not going away – if anything it is only going to get bigger and more problematic for businesses and organizations. The data lineage we specifically want to talk about here is that of business data lineage (also known as vertical data lineage), not the technical data lineage (also known as horizontal data lineage).
Data lineage is often a manual process. The biggest problem with this is that it results in fairly static implementations and solutions e.g., an Excel spreadsheet. These manual methods cannot easily keep up with the dynamic changes of the data landscape and will never provide interactive visualizations. The modern world can no longer work like this and good digital tools with visualization options are required.
When you combine this problem with the fact that all the people involved with the data, processes, and reports will have their own unique needs, abilities, terminologies, and possible depth or context requirements for that data, it can quickly become a horrendous nightmare of complexity.
Thus, when non-technical users need to access business data lineage it is much easier for them to be able to work with a visualization of the lineage, preferably in an easy-to-use tool, as opposed to looking at technical underpinnings, concepts, and raw data. Business data lineage diagrams are an interactive visualization showing business defined objects as they are used in, and relevant to, data tables and columns of an appropriate data source and do not embroil the user in all the technical minutiae. A data lineage diagram must be easy to understand, navigate, document, and maintain.
With those pillars in mind, your tool of choice must be able to prepare such data flow diagrams as an auto-constructed mapping and present them in an interactive way. This enables non-technical users to look at relationships of their choice, drilling down to find the details and answers that they require. If this can be done quickly, almost instantaneously, it allows for fast answers to business questions that users can utilize with confidence and allows businesses and organizations to become not just data driven but also data enabled, using data that has provenance.
As an example, I want to know the flow of data that is in my sales report. As a first step, I look up the respective report and add it to the visualization. It is represented there as a node in the diagram on the left side and I am able to explore all the links to business defined objects (which can also contain calculation of metrics) that the report uses. Using the data lineage diagram, it is super easy for me to identify that the sales report contains metrics such as Costs, Customer Profitability, Profit, Revenue, and Sales Profitability, which I can click on in the diagram and it will show me, not only the meaning of this metric (Business Term), but also how this metric is calculated further. Moreover, I can see where the business defined objects (metrics) are further relevant to data catalog (data source). This way, I am getting the full picture about the report versus metrics used on them versus from where the data for the report are used.
This way, a user can trust the data they are using because they can trace its lineage and source. And they can do this quickly and easily without the need for deep technical knowledge of the infrastructure.
Many tools are not user friendly and may not even offer business data lineage diagrams at all. Accurity is easy to use and offers incredibly versatile business data lineage diagrams helping business users of all levels to drill down to/from actual business terms in the business glossary from/to a technical object (data table, view, or column). Accurity’s business data lineage diagrams give business users the ability to visualize and analyze data lineage to find answers without the need for programming skills.
If you would like to see what data lineage diagram visualizations look like, how they work, and how they are easy to maintain and update, in our all-in-one data intelligence platform, you can have a free demo with us. Book your preferred date and time for your 1-on-1 personalized demo online.