Sixth Time’s the Charm: Dresner’s Wisdom of Crowds Report Names Alation #1 Data Catalog

By Mitesh Shah

Published on June 23, 2022

A group of diverse women celebrating as confetti is thrown at the sky.

Alation has been named the #1 data catalog in Dresner’s 2022 Wisdom of Crowds report for the sixth consecutive year! To arrive at a ranking, report authors interviewed and surveyed real data catalog users. In this way, report authors have furnished a useful buyer’s guide for prospective data catalog users.

Data Catalog Vendor Ratings

18 data catalogs were rated according to three core catalog features.

Customer surveys focused on three core catalog features: content co-creation & sharing, advanced catalog features, and administrative/governance. The report ranks 18 data catalogs by these metrics, placing Alation at the top of the list.

Key findings

In the past five years, the perception that data catalogs are crucial tools to an enterprise has grown, with nearly 20% of all respondents calling them critical (and nearly half of all respondents calling them critical or very important). The report shares:

Notable is the percent of respondents that rank data catalogs as critical, which is rising year over year with almost 20 percent of this year’s survey respondents ranking it as critical (almost doubling the percent of critical importance compared to 2017).

Business size matters. Respondents in much larger (and smaller) organizations were most likely to call data catalogs critical, with 65% of respondents in organizations exceeding ten thousand employees calling data catalogs critical or very important.

Data Catalog Importance
Data Catalog Importance by Organization Size

Data governance now a must-have feature

Data governance features were included in this report for the first time, reflecting the growing value of data governance to data catalogs. And that may be for good reason, as user feedback reveals a correlation between governance and BI success:

“In 2022, 74 percent of our market survey respondents indicate that governing content creation and sharing (e.g., via policies, controls, and applied technologies) is very important or critical to their organizations today (fig. 27). Respondents in our survey who placed higher importance on content governance also report that their success with BI is higher than respondents who placed a lower level of importance on governance”

Historically, data governance has been portrayed as defensive only, something organizations must do to comply with regulations like the GDPR and CCPA (complying with regulations is a given.) The perception is shifting as enterprises report more and more competitive benefits of data governance. Today, organizations must meet both objectives: 1) mitigate risk and comply with regulations and 2) make trustworthy data accessible to the widest audience possible so everyone can make data-driven decisions

Indeed, data governance plays a vital role in a number of data catalog features. That includes “the top three data catalog feature priorities for 2022,” from this report. Those “must-have” features are:

  • Includes a data dictionary,

  • Can catalog multiple databases, and

  • Integration with self-service data-prep tools

Data governance is at work in all three of these features, as the processes associated with dictionary approvals and database cataloging owe their structure to data governance. For people using self-service tools for the first time, governance guidance features can help them understand what data is safe to use and how they may use it compliantly.

Size and industry matter

Larger companies exhibit a growing need for data catalogs that support data governance. “The importance of data catalogs goes up directly with the size of the organization,” the report finds. “Most larger organizations have multiple data sources and analytic use cases that require the data governance and collaboration capabilities of data catalogs”

Organizational growth begets new problems that governance can solve. “As organization size grows, so does complexity, regulation, risk, etc,” the report authors point out. “So, we are not surprised to find very large organizations reporting the highest importance in content governance features.

So which industries report the greatest need for governance? “In our 2022 sample, the critical importance of governing analytic content is especially high in Healthcare and Consumer Services industry respondents,” the report notes. In the world of healthcare, HIPAA mandates make securing and labeling personally identifiable information (PII) critical for data leaders; similarly, consumer services, which refer to a broad range of activities, from haircuts to pest control, benefit from a governance framework that provides a clear view into a consumer’s journey (and enable customer-centric innovations).

Training is essential

While the data catalog provides important processes and technology, preparing people to leverage these new tools is key to their ultimate success. “A data catalog needs to have associated training (including data literacy) and change management programs to be successful,” the report authors point out.

Data literacy training has been a crucial component of Alation’s data catalog offering. Our most successful customers engage in change management best practices, such as:

Start small and go deep.

Kick off digital transformation for one small area of the business at a time.

Invest in training (and train often, but not too early).

Individuals must understand their unique responsibilities to data as it relates to their department, whether that be sales, customer service, finance, marketing, etc. But only roll out training when the tool is ready for that use case!

Spread the word.

As people realize they can trust and use data more effectively, encourage them to share their success stories with the wider organization.

Build a community.

People passionate about data should meet regularly to share learnings and discuss progress.

By training people on how to use a data catalog effectively for their job function, organizations ensure that their data catalog is a powerful tool for key use cases, like collaborative analytics, data governance, and cloud migration.


Dresner’s recognition comes at a time of exciting development for Alation. Snowflake recently recognized Alation as the Data Governance Partner of the Year for the second year in a row. And late last year, Forrester released The Forrester Wave™: Data Governance Solutions, Q3 2021 report, naming Alation as the #1 data catalog for data governance.

More exciting developments are on the horizon. Just this past week, we shared news that Hewlett Packard Enterprise has “investi-partnered” with Alation to accelerate innovation in edge-to-cloud solutions. We’re thrilled to be named an HPE Pathfinder and to collaborate closely with HP as we redefine what the cloud can do for data-driven customers.

Curious about what other analysts say about Alation? Learn more here.

  • Key findings
  • Data governance now a must-have feature
  • Size and industry matter
  • Training is essential
  • Conclusion
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