Global Science Company Unlocks Value from the Databricks Lakehouse with Alation

A scientific laboratory


Alation Articles share information, improving data literacy


data governance platform


single source of truth across the enterprise

Challenge: Siloed data leads to operational inefficiencies

This global science company has continuously grown through mergers and acquisitions. This led to an extremely distributed technology landscape comprising ERP systems across numerous divisions. For many years, individual divisions and country business units operated in silos, leading to inefficiencies in supply chains, procurement, product launches, and more. Leaders struggled to unlock enterprise-level value from this siloed data. 

They created a Center of Excellence (CoE) which recently embarked on a multiyear project to pull data from their many ERP systems into a Databricks Lakehouse Platform on Amazon Web Services (AWS). 

The CoE quickly discovered inconsistent data sets, rules, and policies in the data migrated to the Lakehouse. The data often lacked context because much of the information about data sources, business rules, definitions, and terminology still resided in shared drives within divisions and business units. As users searched for data, they struggled to find and understand data from divisions outside their own. This led to a lack of trust in the migrated data, reinforcing the barriers between divisions.

We plan to make Alation the cornerstone of our data governance efforts and to continue to drive efforts that maximize the return on our data across our systems, divisions, and regions.

Senior Director of Data Governance

Objective: Unlock value from enterprise data

To gain the most value from division-level data migrated to their enterprise cloud platform, the organization first needed to: 

  • Make data searchable and discoverable across the entire business 

  • Create a common repository for terminology and rules

  • Guide users to trusted data sources, alongside access to data owners and experts

CoE leadership agreed they needed a data governance platform to achieve these goals.

Implementation: Governed data is trusted data

The CoE selected Alation as its governance platform. Alation supports the company’s growing data governance efforts by unifying enterprise data standards with common policies and processes, easing fluid data sharing across business units.

Empowering people to find and understand data on a shared platform releases enormous value. “Data governance is the capability that gets people out of their data silos and unlocks enterprise value out of division data,” says one member of the CoE.

The company is now cataloging and providing metadata context for their data migrated to the cloud. They use Alation to make that data more discoverable and accessible via self-service. The CoE is creating a common language around data definitions in Alation’s Business Glossary. They track the data curation process using Alation Analytics. They’re using Alation articles to share knowledge across divisions, and Alation’s stewardship functions guide users to the data owner when they have questions about the data.

Results: Deriving value from governed data

Alation is critical to bridging the gaps resulting from the company’s growth as they work toward deriving greater enterprise value from previously siloed data. They already leverage Alation to create enterprise data capabilities across their procurement, supply chain, and commercial functions.

Alation provides excellent search and discovery capabilities that help employees leverage data in systems they otherwise could not access or use. The platform’s user-friendly interface allows folks to realize value from it quickly. “It’s by far the easiest user interface we’ve ever worked with,” says one CoE member who worked with other data catalogs for over 10 years before joining the company.

The organization also records data rules and policies in Alation and uses the tool’s popularity feature and Trust Flags to guide users to trustworthy data. With Alation, users can feel confident that they’ve tapped into the right — and trusted — data for their purpose. When users know they can trust the data, they can create data products (like reports and dashboards) that can scale across the enterprise.

By sharing their knowledge through more than 4,000 Alation articles, data practitioners are already boosting data literacy at the organization. When users need more information about the data, Alation guides them to the people who know the data best. “Users don't have to be experts in every ERP system to get value from our data, thanks to Alation,” says the company’s senior director of data governance.

The senior data governance director also appreciates Alation’s multiplicity of connections with other elements of their data governance stack. The company plans to maximize the value between Alation and Databricks Unity Catalog. This connection will enable analysts to sample and profile data and compose queries on data from the Databricks Lakehouse Platform directly in Alation, enabling them to work faster and more efficiently. Because Alation doesn’t lock customers into a single data quality tool, the company is researching data quality and privacy tools to round out their data governance capabilities.

“We plan to make Alation the cornerstone for our data governance efforts and to continue to drive efficiencies across our systems, divisions, and regions,” concludes the senior director of data governance.