How to implement Alation Data Catalog into your company from day one

By Gianthomas Volpe

Published on November 15, 2022

Two business colleagues discussing how to implement Alation's Data Catalog within their organization while they look into their laptops.

Digital transformation or a change in a company’s mindset to embrace data is an important step towards becoming a truly data intelligent and more efficient business. And a data catalog is an important part of this. But many companies might be wary of the time it takes to implement a new software.

Data catalogs can play an important role in fast-tracking and facilitating digital transformation through the intelligent and efficient use of data, while delivering a proven return on investment from the start. But what does your company need to do to achieve this?

In this blog, we will outline what you need to do from Day 1 to harness the full benefits of your new data catalog from the start.

Good news: You don’t need any prerequisites to implement Alation Data Catalog

From a tangible standpoint, aside from actually purchasing the licensing, there aren’t many prerequisites for implementing Alation’s data catalog within an organisation.

However, from a more organisational and cultural perspective there are several things that need to be considered. First you need to establish whether you have the correct goals and resources in place, and make sure you have answers to the following questions:

  1. What is the scale of the project that you are implementing Alation for?

  2. What are you trying to achieve within the first year of implementing Alation?

In addition to this, from a cultural perspective, you need to establish who is sponsoring the endeavour in the first place, this requires both a top down and bottom-up approach. Your senior executives need to be pushing the vision of the endeavour forwards, and similarly, you need to have at least a few people within the business who are excited to try a new system and have experienced the grievances of not having one in place.

Full company buy-in will see all employees reap the benefits from the start

From an organisational level, the Alation data catalog needs to be embedded into the existing processes of the business rather than having new processes be put in place specifically for making use of Alation. Additionally, any organisation must keep its primary goals in mind, and not try and expand too much outside of the scope of those original goals. Because, doing so will put adverse amounts of responsibility on certain people, and they are going to get overwhelmed. It is best to instead start with a smaller scope that is targeted and will add value, such as bringing in those existing data sheets onto Alation and implementing them within the system.

You also have to think about how people within an organisation will be onboarded to use the data catalog going forwards. Ideally, it would become a part of the onboarding process for any new employee. But for those existing employees you need to establish how they learn and implement Alation too. While it is understandable that some employees would be resistant to work with a new software, it is important to remind them that the purpose of implementing Alation’s data catalog is to make their lives and work easier.

Regardless of one’s position, finding data can often be a daunting part of any job, partially because data might not be easily accessible, or the right data might exist in someone’s head rather than in a central system accessible to all. And so, it is especially important that Alation’s data catalog is posed as an enabler to people, and not as homework (even if it might feel like that at the beginning.) Enabling faster and better work is the goal, and this becomes much easier when you consider that Alation is a more simple platform than the majority of competitors out there.

A data catalog is so much more than just a data catalog

If a company has never implemented a more comprehensive data catalog before, it is recommended that the implementation of Alation be a part of a larger change in the organisation’s company and policy. In fact, rarely is a data catalog implemented on its own – when companies think digital transformation, they don’t tend to mean a data catalog after all. Simply put, the implementation itself does not provide the same level of transformation as a transition to the cloud, for example. However, the implementation of Alation is to facilitate a much wider digital transformation.

If you have the buy-in from senior executives, you can have much quicker wins and you can more immediately implement the data catalog into the organisation. And if the positive impact of the implementation of the data catalog is felt, then other changes can more easily follow, such as naturally achieving a higher degree of data intelligence and efficiency across your whole organisation.

Seeing quick wins from day one

Riot Games, best known for their online game League of Legends, recently adopted Alation’s data catalog. With more than 150 million registered users, League of Legends generates vast amounts of data for Riot Games, data that was hidden and unfindable across the organisation.

Since implementing Alation’s data catalog in conjunction with Tableau, Riot Games analysts can now use keyword searches to discover the data they need. They can then use Alation to explore data in depth — down to the schema, table, and column level — or trace lineage to ensure usability for their purpose. Looking forwards Riot Games plans to integrate data-use policies directly into the catalog, so people get just-in-time guidance on how to use data compliantly, showcasing that Alation is more than just a catalog.

Getting started with Alation’s data catalog

To help you start seeing the benefits of a data catalog straight away, Alation includes a right start package when implemented in any new company. This is to make sure that all technical and business aspects go live with best practices in place, that the scope of the project is appropriate, that the roles and responsibilities are defined and that all the elements of a successful and sustainable program are in place.

Additionally, the Alation customer success team is responsible for the longer-term goals and achievements. They can discuss the companies larger aspirations for using Alation going forwards, and make sure that they are on track to achieve them too.

If you’d like to find out more about Alation’s data catalog, sign up for a demo today.

  • Good news: You don’t need any prerequisites to implement Alation Data Catalog
  • Full company buy-in will see all employees reap the benefits from the start
  • A data catalog is so much more than just a data catalog
  • Seeing quick wins from day one
  • Getting started with Alation’s data catalog
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