Enterprise Data Catalog: How Businesses Find Valuable Data Fast

March 12, 2022

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As enterprises continue to amass data at an exponential rate, it’s becoming challenging to efficiently find and utilize the right information to drive business decisions. A modern enterprise data catalog offers a way to organize and contextualize data assets, leading to faster and more valuable business insights.

In this blog, we’ll discuss what an enterprise data catalog is and the benefits it can bring to your organization.

What is an Enterprise Data Catalog?

An enterprise data catalog (EDC) serves as a centralized inventory of data assets across the organization. For example, when a data practitioner needs to find information, they can turn to the EDC to not only locate the relevant data but also use its metadata to understand where it came from and how it can be utilized most effectively.

In short, an EDC makes finding, understanding, and governing disparate data assets much easier for enterprises.

The problem with using confluence pages, wikis, or spreadsheets to track metadata is that they’re not scalable. These solutions are siloed and static, relying on humans to curate and document the data. Without a centralized way to organize metadata, organizations often encounter inconsistencies, redundancies, and distrust of data.

A modern EDC, on the other hand, implements an active metadata management approach, where the system continuously collects metadata from logs, query history, usage statistics, and more. This ensures there is a single, up-to-date source of information for effectively working with data.

In addition, modern EDC solutions can leverage advanced technologies like AI/ML to provide data recommendations to data practitioners, unlocking the opportunity to generate powerful business insights that might not have been possible before.

Why do you need an Enterprise Data Catalog?

Since enterprises are accumulating so much data, it’s becoming more difficult for employees to find the right data assets when they need them. This often results in asking the data team to locate the data for them and ensure it’s ready for analysis.

In Anaconda’s 2021 State of Data Science survey, respondents said they spend “39% of their time on data prep and data cleansing, which is more than the time spent on model training, model selection, and deploying models combined."

An EDC, however, creates a centralized location for data, thus reducing time spent on searching for data and preparing it for use. That’s because an EDC enables self-service analytics that allows employees to easily find and utilize trusted data themselves. This frees up data team members to focus their efforts on high-value tasks that improve the data capabilities of the organization, dramatically increasing the amount of value a business can achieve from its data.

The Benefits of an Enterprise Data Catalog

While we’ve already mentioned that an EDC can make it easier to organize data assets, let’s dive deeper into four primary benefits. A modern enterprise data catalog lets you:

  1. Find the right data
  2. Understand data better
  3. Improve data collaboration
  4. Establish proper data governance

1. Find the right data

Trying to locate specific data within countless systems is as daunting as it is time-intensive. An EDC provides a simple-to-use search function that leverages metadata to provide refined search results. The metadata unlocks the relationships between assets, delivering more context to the user.

Find any data with a Google-like search interface

Find any data with a Google-like search interface. Source: Atlan

2. Understand data better

EDC not only shows you where your data lives, but tells you where it came from, how it changed, and how it was used during its lifecycle. For example, tracking data lineage can help data practitioners determine the source of a data set to evaluate its quality. This knowledge helps establish trust in the data so users can extract insights with better confidence.

An EDC also reveals downstream impacts, showing how a data asset directly or indirectly affects other assets. This feature allows users to better visualize the ripple effects of modifying an input, leading to more informed decisions.

Visualize data lineage — both upstream and downstream

Visualize data lineage — both upstream and downstream. Source: Atlan

3. Improve data collaboration

An EDC provides reports and visual dashboards where members of an organization can view, access, and share data, allowing them to make data-driven decisions that add value to the organization. As such, an EDC is a key contributor to data democratization because it enables more employees (who may not have a technical skillset) to work with trusted data.

A well-designed EDC is one that integrates seamlessly with other applications and serves as a platform for embedded collaboration. Embedded collaboration unifies dozens of micro-workflows to eliminate friction so that teams can operate within their tools and systems of choice while continuing to work on data.

4. Establish proper data governance

Permitting proper access to authorized users is another main benefit and function of any data catalog. An EDC governs who can access which data so the data remains safe, reliable, and confidential.

A modern EDC is less about control and more about collaboration. It enables a paradigm shift in data governance to one that includes analytics governance for effective data utilization, is decentralized and community-led, and is a part of employees’ daily workflows rather than merely an afterthought.

Greater Organization, Greater Efficiency

The modern data stack continues to evolve, meaning organizations need a modern metadata management solution now more than ever. An enterprise data catalog gives organizations the structure they need to effectively and efficiently work with data to drive business intelligence.

For example, applying an EDC to a data lake provides the level of organization necessary to prevent it from becoming a useless data swamp without any heavy lifting from the data team.

The new era of data catalogs puts collaboration and automation at the forefront so users can easily find and use trusted data in today’s data-centric world.


When healthcare provider Scripps needed a data catalog to enable faster data discovery and enterprise-wide collaboration, they turned to Atlan. Check out the case study for the full story

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash.

Free Guide: Find the Right Data Catalog in 5 Simple Steps.

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