Seven Features to Look for in a “Modern" Data Catalog

September 5, 2023
Seven Features to Look for in a “Modern" Data Catalog

Across data consumers, data producers, and domain owners, one thing holds true: Everyone is struggling with how to easily use and benefit from data. Data consumers are frustrated with having to hunt down data, find out who owns it, and jump through hoops to get access to it. Meanwhile, data engineers, architects, and analysts are tired of creating data products that don’t get used or needing to create the same data products time and time again. Finally, domain owners are stressed by the need to ensure that the right users have access to data found scattered across numerous sources.

In response, an overwhelming majority of organizations are planning to deploy a data catalog, but they often present more problems than they solve—leading to low adoption rates, inadequate data access, and ongoing data waste. Solving these challenges requires a new approach focused on reducing tool complexity for all users and ensuring streamlined integration with other systems and tools.

Next-generation data catalogs enable more widespread data access
Ideally, a data catalog will enable user-friendly, seamless integration with various data sources, databases, data management systems, and analytics tools. However, these options are often few and far between. When evaluating a potential data catalog, check for whether it contains these key features that lead to greater usability, higher adoption rates, and better access to and use of an organization’s data.

1.    Comprehensive and up-to-date metadata
The catalog should provide detailed and accurate metadata for each dataset, including descriptions, tags, data sources, data owners, creation dates, and update frequencies. Ideally, the metadata should include easily understandable business definitions that allow the average user to quickly identify whether a given data product is the right choice for their needs.

2.     Intuitive and powerful search capabilities
Robust search functionality enables users to quickly find the data they need. Advanced search options like faceted search, keyword search, and filtering options based on attributes or metadata should be available to refine search results. In particular, a search engine that incorporates natural language processing makes it especially intuitive for any business user to find and access data, leading to increased adoption and better decision making.

3.     Data quality assessment
Looking at a sea of options can be overwhelming without a rating mechanism to profile and assess the quality of data. Any data catalog you’re evaluating should provide metrics or ratings related to data accuracy, completeness, consistency, and timeliness to help users understand the reliability and suitability of the datasets.

4.     Data lineage and provenance tracking
Data producers and consumers alike need to be able to comprehend the history and context of the data, including comprehensive data lineage and provenance information. Check to see that the data catalog can track the origin, transformations, and flow of data across different systems, processes, and data pipelines.

5.     User engagement features
In addition to the rating mechanisms already mentioned, having additional engagement and feedback features allows users to provide feedback on data quality and flag issues as they arise. This ultimately leads to greater trust in the data available by helping to ensure that accuracy and consistency are maintained.

6.     User-friendliness
Ensuring adoption means including a user-friendly way to find act on all data within an organization, including understanding definitions, viewing metadata, control access, and direct access to APIs, and connectors. Some catalogs may even feature natural language processing AI-powered capabilities that make it easy for the average business user to interrogate the data and generate custom charts and graphs at the click of a button.

7.     Integration capabilities
The catalog should have the ability to integrate with various data sources, databases, data management systems, and analytics tools. It should support data extraction, ingestion, and synchronization from different systems to ensure seamless integration and interoperability.

Armed with the right data catalog, data producers can access a place to centralize all data products so they’re easily findable and accessible; business domain owners can easily govern the use of data products and make sure the right data is available to the right users; and data consumers can quickly and easy discover, request access to, and take action on data in an intuitive, user-friendly interface.

DataMarket: More than just a data catalog
RightData’s DataMarket ia a single platform that hosts all an organization’s data products, making them easily accessible. DataMarket provides comprehensive information about each data set, including user reviews, quality ratings, and data samples. It also enables users to request and grant data access right from the platform, eliminating the need for time-consuming manual processes. Once a user has found the right data and is confident about its quality, they can immediately download it, use the API to connect it to their product, or begin analyzing it with their preferred analytics tool.

DataMarket makes it easy for all business users to find and consume data products, thanks to its natural language capabilities for finding data products, quality ratings and reviews from other users, and easily accessible details on the data product. Users can then request access for the data product and immediately start using the data through its provided API, JDBC connectors, downloads, or even the rendering of data visualizations directly within the DataMarket.

Make fast, seamless data access a reality
Picture this: A new employee joins an organization, and along with their laptop and credentials, they're also issued access to the right modern data catalog. From day one, they can truly hit the ground running and find any available data, explore detailed descriptions, and immediately request access from the owner without needing to leave the platform. They can see the data quality, who created it, how recently the data was updated, whether it’s applicable to their needs. Once they’re granted access to the data product, they can immediately begin using it either through local download, API, or JDBC connector—no more sitting around wasting time on infrastructure onboarding. With RightData’s DataMarket, it’s possible.

Want a personal demo of RightData’s modern take on the data catalog? Click here and we’ll get you going.