Alation Ranked Top Data Catalog Third Year in a Row

By Jason Lim

Published on February 13, 2020

For the third consecutive year, Alation has been named the top-ranked data catalog in the Dresner Advisory Services Wisdom of the Crowds® Data Catalog Market Study. This achievement is a testament not only to our legacy of helping to create the data catalog category but also to our continued innovation in improving the effectiveness of self-service analytics.

A broader definition of Business Intelligence

In their Wisdom of Crowds® Data Catalog Market Study, Dresner assessed data catalog solutions from the perspective of business intelligence (BI). To interpret the study accurately, it’s important to distinguish that Dresner’s definition of BI is broader than BI tools. It’s easy for our minds to immediately think of BI tools, especially with the recent flurry of M&A activity: Salesforce’s acquisition of Tableau and Google’s acquisition of Looker.

Howard Dresner coined the term “Business Intelligence” in 1989. Business Intelligence is defined as “knowledge gained through the access and analysis of business information.” A data catalog is classified as a tool that simplifies the access and use of analytical content in addition to the collaboration and governance of that content in multiple BI use cases. This aligns to our vision of empowering a curious, rational world. We aspire to make it easy for anyone to find the data they need so that workers can satisfy their curiosity with trustworthy data, solve problems, and share their knowledge with the community.

The inability to find, access, and govern data hinders successful BI initiatives

A key finding of the survey is that the ability to find data contributes greatly to the success of BI initiatives. In the study, 75% of the 770 survey respondents indicated having difficulty in locating and accessing analytic content including data, models, and metadata. Enabling workers to find the right data is crucial to promoting self-service analytics.

And, Dresner found that the largest organizations (more than 10,000 employees) struggle the most with finding relevant data. The study concludes that larger organizations have greater complexity and requirements for data integration, cataloging, and governance. This impacts their ability to locate data across multiple data sources and share it across the organization. In short, the inability to easily find data is a major roadblock for self-service initiatives, and for large organizations, this challenge is particularly acute.

Alation makes finding data easy with powerful elastic search technology, as well as ranking relevant data in the same way that Google Search PageRank does for search results. On top of that, the combination of crowdsourced knowledge and machine learning generated suggestions means that users have the context needed to understand the data, once they find it.

Collaboration is key to bridging the divide between business, IT and governance teams

In rating twenty different data catalog vendors, Dresner factored in the most important data catalog, collaborative, and governance features. Alation performed the best across all three factors.

A successful data catalog must have the ability to index a comprehensive array of data sources and data types. We excel on this front with an extensive amount of popular native and non-native connectors.

At its core, Alation is a collaborative data catalog. When we created the first data catalog in the market, we took inspiration from social platforms that are collaborative by nature. For instance, just like rating, reviewing and sharing a tourist spot on TripAdvisor you can start a conversation on a data object like a table, column, BI report or even a SQL query within Alation; endorse, warn or deprecate it as well as share it with another user or group.

By applying collaboration capabilities to data, Alation dramatically improves analytical productivity by crowdsourcing knowledge and sharing it enterprise wide for others to benefit from. This bottom-up approach to data curation is what bridges the otherwise fragmented sides of business, IT and governance.

Agile Stewardship: Alation’s scalable approach to governance

A critical trend captured by the report showed that governing and sharing data grew in importance. This is evidenced by 79% of respondents in 2019 stating that it is critical to their organization compared to 70% in the previous year. Alation shines in both aspects by helping data stewards to crowdsource data curation and effectively prioritize their work by knowing which data is most popular.

Alation has a unique philosophy of governance that encourages well-governed analytics rather than restricting access or slowing down the self-service workflow. We call this “Agile Stewardship.” Extending the approach of collaboration, data stewards can leverage AI and the contribution of users to describe, curate, and review data.

Compared to the traditional top-down approach of strict IT, Alation opens up data to people with guardrails in place to guide accurate, confident analytics. This ultimately allows stewardship initiatives to scale beyond what human effort alone can cope with, given that the volume of data only increases.

Amongst study respondents, the most critical feature was the ability to define levels of access to shared documents and data. Alation is able to allow or restrict access to data based on role or group. Data Catalog Admins are able to control levels of access for specific data sources, for example a Data Catalog Admin for the finance database. Even columns in a table can be masked as ‘SENSITIVE’ for specific users, hiding things like personally identifiable information without hindering the self-service workflow.

Get the 2019 Dresner Data Catalog Study

We are honored to be rated the leading data catalog in the market by Dresner Advisory Services for the third consecutive year. This is solid validation from actual BI users that see the value of data catalogs and see how data catalogs can help enterprises increase their business intelligence from their data.

To learn more about Dresner’s and Alation’s perspective on how data catalogs contribute to business intelligence, you can watch the webinar replay: “The Latest Trends in Data Cataloging for BI”.

If you’re interested, download your complimentary copy of the Dresner Advisory Services Data Catalog Market Study.

  • A broader definition of Business Intelligence
  • The inability to find, access, and govern data hinders successful BI initiatives
  • Collaboration is key to bridging the divide between business, IT and governance teams
  • Agile Stewardship: Alation’s scalable approach to governance
  • Get the 2019 Dresner Data Catalog Study
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