You Asked – We Answered:
Your Top Four Data Catalog Questions

Emily WashingtonJune 28, 2021

You’ve probably heard the term data catalog thrown around for the past couple of years or so but might not know exactly what it means. To put it simply, a data catalog synthesizes all the technical details around an organization’s data assets across multiple data dictionaries and arranges the information into a simple, easy-to-understand format.

Imagine a centralized location for all data and procedures that a company uses. That one location quickly helps data users discover, understand and trust what data assets are available as well as provides business context around how that data was created, used, managed and consumed across the organization.

In addition, that centralized location of “data knowledge” begins with capturing metadata—the foundational element used to transform data into an enterprise-wide asset. Data users can manage data descriptions, synonyms, key business attributes and track data usage.

Because data catalogs are a broad topic, often involving business and technical data lineage and data governance, we often hear the same questions. Therefore, we’ve curated a list of the top four answers to the most frequently asked questions about creating a data catalog.

Why do I need a data catalog?

As you’ve read above, a data catalog brings together an organization’s data knowledge, business processes, goals and metrics in one place into a format that is easy for data users to access, search and understand.

However, a data catalog is much more. It is also a foundational component of data governance. While a data catalog shows the data assets and location, data governance enables users to know which data owners and stewards to go to with data questions. Therefore, business users no longer have to ask around to understand what data they need to make decisions. Instead, they can easily search the data catalog to locate high-quality, trustworthy information with relevant business context in real-time. And, if there is any confusion within the data catalog regarding data understanding or data quality, business users know exactly which data owner to contact for a resolution.

What are the benefits of a data catalog?

There are many benefits to a data catalog, including:

  • Technical details around data assets, or metadata, are defined into meaningful and searchable business context, enabling consistent understanding among all data consumers.
  • Enhanced cross-departmental collaboration by identifying data owners, stewards and subject matter experts that users can go to if they have questions about the data.
  • Documented data lineage, which tracks how data moves through various processes, extraction and transformation points across organizational systems or the data supply chain. As a result, data users clearly understand their data flow, dependencies and critical relationships.
  • Transparency into data quality scores and metrics provides confidence in the quality of current data or trends over time.

How do you build a data catalog?

The first step to building a data catalog is understanding the most critical data assets that are most frequently and broadly used. This is often a challenge when users hold different views about data.

However, by incorporating an automated data catalog tool alongside an enterprise data governance framework, organizations streamline communication and collaboration between various functional areas, ensuring everyone is on the same page with prioritized data and its   meaning.

The same tool also creates a searchable, browsable, business intuitive data catalog that is scalable over time as more data is ingested and produced. By harvesting metadata, tagging and profiling data, companies derive a 3D view of lineage (technical, business and process), identify relationships with other business assets and quickly understand business context around data, including data quality scores.

A real-time 3D view of the data landscape helps users quickly uncover the impacts of data across the organization, systems and policies and where it fits into business processes. 3D lineage also details where data came from, where it’s going and its deviations. With traceability, business users can quickly verify data sources and find and report data quality issues. Business users gain complete transparency into business-ready data around their data catalog and enterprise information.

What are the differences between a business glossary and a data catalog?

A business glossary defines an enterprise’s data vocabulary and ensures a common understanding of the definition of business terms and ownership. It synthesizes all the details about an enterprise’s data assets, across many data dictionaries, and organizes it into a simple, clear format.

A data catalog includes both a business glossary and data dictionary. It is an organized inventory of an organization’s business and technical data assets in one location. The catalog details these assets, what datasets are available, where the data came from, who uses it can access it, where it’s located and any risks or sensitivities.

The ultimate goal for a data catalog is to make trustworthy data easy to find. As a result, users can confidently evaluate and use data that is consistent and organized to data meanings, synonyms and critical business attributes.

Do you need a high-quality data catalog?

In 2021, Infogix received recognition from several industry analysts and IT media for its Data360’s comprehensive data catalog capabilities. Learn why here.

To further understand data catalogs, watch this on-demand webinar: How Newmont Gold Launched a Data Catalog in Just Weeks and Scored Big Wins