Alation Named Leader in IDC’s Inaugural Data Catalog Assessment

By Nolan Necoechea

Published on July 13, 2020

Last week, Alation was named a leader in the inaugural IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Data Catalog Software 2020 Vendor Assessment. Only three data catalog providers were named leaders, and of the leaders, two were legacy technology providers, making Alation the only modern data catalog to top the assessment.

What’s more, Alation ranked strongest among modern data catalog vendors in both axes: capabilities and strategies. The capabilities axis assesses the capabilities of the company and product today, here and now. The strategies axis assesses the high-level decisions and underlying assumptions about the business and go-to-market plans for the next three to five years.  This comes as the latest in a string of recognition for Alation as an industry-leading data catalog from firms including Gartner, Dresner, and Forrester.

IDC sees data catalogs as a key part of their broader vision of data intelligence. According to IDC, “The future is digital and intelligent, and to be successful in the digital economy, companies will need data and data intelligence” with data cataloging representing “a cornerstone of the data intelligence software market category.”

In this post, we’re going to dive into IDC’s vision for data intelligence, examine how Alation fits into data intelligence, and look at some of the highlights of the assessment.

IDC and Data Intelligence

IDC coined the term “data intelligence” and defines it as leveraging metadata to provide greater transparency and context to enable people, processes, and technology with trustworthy, reliable data.

IDC sees the new generation of data catalogs as an important part of data intelligence.

The modern data catalog addresses one of the biggest challenges enterprises are facing: how to manage the huge volumes of data. IDC believes the focus should be on data intelligence, not just the data. According to IDC, “Rather than collecting all the diverse, distributed, and large-scale data into one common platform, intelligence about the data becomes the platform” — and the modern data catalog can serve as the platform for that intelligence.

Alation and Data Intelligence

Alation’s mission is to empower a curious and rational world where everyone is encouraged to explore difficult questions and find answers with data. The manifestation of that mission is in helping customers to create a thriving data culture where the thousands of decisions made each day are made better with data and incredible outcomes are possible, including protecting against the risk of climate change and better identifying rare diseases.

To create a data culture, enterprises need to focus on three things:

  • Data Search & Discovery: Data search & discovery to enable more people to find insights and create value from data. With Alation, anyone in the organization can find the data they need to make data-driven decisions — without having to know to be an expert on the ins and outs of a complex data environment. Alation’s customer, Travelers, has called this creating an “Amazon-like experience for data at Travelers.

  • Data Literacy: Once people find the data they need, they need to know how to use it with confidence. With Alation, the breadth of the organization’s knowledge is accessible to anyone, and with that knowledge, the functional data literacy of the entire organization gets raised. Alation customers like American Family Insurance have made Alation a foundational part of their data literacy efforts.

  • Data Governance: Finally, enterprises need to ensure that data use is well governed. Alation helps close the gap between rules and policies and how data is being used, ensuring that data governance is a seamless part of data driven decision-making. Customers like Riot Games and Marks & Spencer leverage Alation for active data governance that moves at the pace of business and enables ambitious digital transformation efforts.

Alation’s data catalog is also the platform for data intelligence, supporting a wide range of metadata-related use cases from data privacy and data stewardship to cloud migration. IDC states that, “Data intelligence is the future unified data platform” — a view that aligns closely with the Alation platform.


IDC’s data catalog assessment has a number of other highlights that are important for anyone evaluating a data catalog and data intelligence:

  • In the assessment, Alation is the data catalog provider most associated with intelligence. IDC credits Alation with being an early mover in the intelligence software market and for coining the term “behavioral intelligence.”

  • The assessment notes that it is the new generation of data catalogs that is forming the cornerstone for data intelligence and credits Alation with helping to define the modern data catalog.

  • And perhaps most compellingly, IDC writes that you should consider Alation if:

“You are an organization interested in driving a data culture and starting with use cases including, but not limited to, analyst productivity, data governance, privacy, risk and compliance, and cloud transformation.”

  • IDC and Data Intelligence
  • Alation and Data Intelligence
  • Highlights
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