Data Governance

Creating an Inventory of Your Data Assets with Data Catalog

Angelika Seböková
January 11, 2022 | 6 min read
No matter what size, every company should base their critical decisions on data. Easily accessible, clear, and easy to read data assets enable your data experts to work with your data faster and in a more efficient way.

When you need to improve your data governance efforts, have deeper insights on what steps to take and ensure your business will prosper and remain competitive on the market, creating a data catalog and business glossary are core components of these efforts. The value of cataloged, unified, and collaborative data becomes a key success factor for organizations.

What is a data catalog?

The simplest definition of a data catalog is an organized inventory of company data assets, including datasets, data structures, data fields and all related technical metadata across all layers of your data architecture. This useful approach provides you with a clear overview of how your data are structured, where it is located and what other data sources or metadata relates to it. It serves as the main reference point for anyone within your organization who needs to find information about your data catalog.

In every modern company the amount of data is enormous and likely to grow exponentially. As companies try to tackle this volume they build systems and create approaches of how to handle their data. This usually ends up with companies having various sources, pipelines, and storage systems for their data, making it more difficult for data experts to find, understand and interpret what the data is showing. A data catalog helps create a consolidated inventory of your data assets, helping you navigate better within your data.

Key benefits of cataloging your data:

Data catalogs are making the way companies work with their data more efficient. By implementing this organized inventory of data assets you will be able to overcome the challenges you have been facing, such as:

  • A lot of manual work, ad-hoc data preparations and reports.

  • Difficulties with understanding the structure of your data.

  • Large amount of time needed to localize and find needed information.

  • Missing a unified business vocabulary.

  • Difficulties with detecting the missing knowledge.

All in all, introducing a data catalog can significantly contribute to time and cost saved. It not only improves the way you approach your data, but also has an impact on how well you will be able to read it.

Most common use cases for a data catalog:

To speak more specifically, here is a list of a few use case examples of a data catalog:

  • Documenting data lineage - when working with metadata, it gets handy to know where data you are learning about originates and how it transforms over the course of its existence. Without documentation of the technical data lineage, it is difficult to trace back errors detected further in the sequence of transformations and pinpoint the error's origin.

  • Creating database blueprint - databases tend to divert from expectations when not following business specifications, creating unnecessary friction between the business and technical teams. However, you can create logical data models within a data catalog, which are modelled according to business specifications, while providing a comprehensive blueprint to the technical team to create the actual database from. This way, databases can be created with everyone being in sync on what they should contain and what their structure should be.

  • Capturing metadata about existing databases - when working with already existing databases, it is possible to connect them to the data catalog and gather metadata directly from them. Using this metadata, you can easily create a reflection of what the physical database looks like. This data model can be then used for designing future modifications to the database, while maintaining knowledge of how it connects to the rest of the infrastructure in reality.

  • Synchronization of the data catalog - it may be a challenge to ensure the retrieved metadata model continues to accurately reflect the ever-evolving database. Especially when people who work on the metadata model and the database are not keeping each other up to date regarding the latest changes. A data catalog, when connected to a database, will allow you to synchronize the changes to the database with the status in the metadata model. By being able to load the latest changes and choose which to write into the model, you can always work with the latest version of your database metadata and plan improvements accurately.

Our data catalog solution for you

A data catalog is a great approach for any company that wants to take their data management efforts to a new level. Our Accurity platform Data Catalog and Business Glossary solution, which is available on-premises or as a SaaS, is built in a way to help beginners start managing their data and later scale up the range of services according to their needs, as well as support more mature companies who, for example, would like to have their data in a single source of the truth. You can get started with our Accurity Data Catalog and Business Glossary SaaS right now, absolutely free.

Angelika Seböková
Marketing Specialist
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