Most companies nowadays have access to terabytes of information. Depending on your industry, you may be working with even more! What happens when you need to access a specific data point, and you can’t seem to find it? Unfortunately, the most likely outcome is that you miss out on the opportunity to leverage that data to further your company’s success.

That is unless you utilize a data catalog. Read on to discover six signs you need a data catalog for your business.

What Is a Data Catalog?

The simplest way to think of a data catalog is as a library catalog. When you have a specific book that you want to find in the library, you can check the catalog and search for the book’s title, author, genre, or Dewey decimal code to find it. Your company’s data can work in much the same way—instead of searching based on title or author, you might find data based on fields like customer name or location.

So, how does this work? To understand a data catalog, you need to understand metadata. In short, metadata is data about your data. To continue with the library analogy, a book’s actual content would be considered “data,” while information like the title, author, genre, and number of pages are examples of “metadata.”

A great data catalog makes it easy for you to access data, no matter where it comes from. Through the use of metadata, finding what you’re looking for is a simple and painless matter—just like finding out whether the novel you’re looking for is checked out or not.

1. You Have Data Silos

The first sign that you need a data catalog for your business is apparent if you have data silos. Many businesses don’t know exactly what this term means, and therefore don’t understand whether they have a data silo, so we’ll break it down.

A data silo is a repository of data that is isolated from the rest of your organization. Usually, this subset of your data is controlled by a particular department or unit—it’s called a data silo because a grain silo protects grain from the outside world. While this process can indeed provide a small form of protection, it causes more problems than it solves.

Why do data silos exist if they cause problems? When a company is large enough, different units and departments are often forced to operate independently, with slightly varied goals for the organization as a whole. This is especially true when you don’t have a master data management system in place—a way to unify all your data.

Data silos tend to be incompatible with other sources of data, and they also make it difficult for other units or departments to access the data. While sequestering data may make it a little safer from online threats, it also makes it tougher to access internally.

A data catalog (especially when paired with master data management for security) allows you to govern your data more effectively while promoting collaboration and maintaining integrity.

2. It’s Difficult To Find Data Quickly

Perhaps the biggest sign that you need a data catalog is in the length of time it takes you to access your company’s data. When you instruct your analysts to perform a task like generating a report, how quickly does that come back to you? With a data catalog, your employees can find the data they need with a few short keystrokes and have a report in your inbox within a few hours.

Without this tool in your belt, you may receive your reports too late to act on them. So much of the business world requires quick pivots and agility that slow systems can directly affect your bottom line.

3. You Want To Make Better Use of Machine Learning Tools

If you have machine learning and artificial intelligence at your disposal, you’re shooting yourself in the foot by not also making use of a data catalog. That’s because machine learning tools can use your data catalog to provide you with data inventory in a timelier manner. Just as a data catalog helps your employees easily access data, artificial intelligence will benefit in the same way.

4. You’re Looking for More Out of Your Data

Data analytics is a key part of any company’s path to success. However, even the best analysts in the world won’t be able to effectively use your data if they can’t find the information they’re looking for. Data cataloging helps your analysts achieve their full potential, and thereby helps your company reach its newest peak.

5. You Have Unoptimized Departments

When you keep your data in silos, it serves only to help one department at a time. This can lead to certain departments performing well while others fall by the wayside and suffer. Data cataloging, integration, and master data management bring all sorts of datasets under one large roof and allow every employee equal access to data.

Now, every department can make decisions based on data rather than needing to act on intuition alone. While intuition is a crucial aspect of the success of any company, data-driven intuition helps to eliminate risk and helps employees hone their intuitiveness.

6. You Want To Improve Data Governance

While collaboration between your employees is good, it should also be controlled. This is why data silos form in the first place—to keep proprietary data in the right hands. A data catalog creates traceable data lineage, which helps you track the changes and usage of a given piece of data. This way, if someone uses or edits data they aren’t supposed to, the catalog will record that so you can address the issue.

Using Snowflake for Integration

A data catalog comprises data from all types of sources, and Snowflake integration brings that data together while avoiding the common pitfalls of disparate data. Snowflake enhances analytics and also makes use of a caching paradigm to deliver quick results. On top of all that, Snowflake helps you take down silos and provide better access to data across your entire organization.

Now that you have a better understanding of the six signs you need a data catalog for your business, contact Chain-Sys Corporation with any additional questions about data cataloging. Our team is standing by to help!

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