The Big Question In BI: Do I Need a Data Dictionary, Business Glossary or Catalog

  • In recent years data volumes have increased greatly in enterprises, in parallel with business-driven demand to extract value from data.
  • This has impacted Business Intelligence (BI) teams, who must meet this demand while dealing with increased data volumes.
  • BI teams struggle because they need to find and understand the data required for BI delivery. In the past, manual effort was undertaken to do this analysis.
  • Today, manual effort cannot scale and an automated approach to BI Intelligence is needed. BI Intelligence is what supplies BI developers with the knowledge they need about the data to successfully meet BI delivery expectations.
  • BI Intelligence is achieved via several capabilities, all of which must be automated. These are:
    • Business Glossary: the inventory of business terms, their meanings, and all facts of business significance about them.
    • BI Catalog: a subcomponent of the Business Glossary which is the inventory of reports, their content described in business terms, and the capture of the database columns from which the report content is taken.
    • Data Dictionary: the inventory of databases, tables, and columns and their physical characteristics from across the enterprise production data landscape.
    • Data Discovery: search capabilities in the environment provided by the Data Dictionary integrated with the Business Glossary.
    • Data Lineage: the most complex and difficult of all metadata to harvest, Data Lineage shows how data flows via data supply chains across the production data landscape including all transformations. Visualization is critical for Data Lineage, and it must be presented as a comprehensible map.
  • All of these BI Intelligence capabilities must be present in a single platform, must be automated, and must be integrated. Anything less will fail to provide BI developers with the BI Intelligence they require, and will severely impact BI delivery.

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