By Kaycee Lai | March 8, 2021

Data catalogs are a necessary step in the journey toward maximizing benefit from data in today’s distributed systems. However, when it comes to answering business questions with data, the ability to identify data sources that may be dispersed across diverse systems like Hadoop, SQL Server and Snowflake can only take you so far.

While data catalogs play a critical role in governance and also lay a solid foundation for data discovery, it’s also important to note that they weren’t necessarily built to answer business questions. As Harvard Business School Professor Theodore Levitt said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”.  In the world of data, we must remember that the business doesn’t really want data, they want answers to questions like “what are the demographic characteristics of our target market in Latin America?” or “how have our sales to females in California in the 18-35 age range been impacted by COVID-19?”  Consider that if you ask a question of Google search, you get a real answer.  Asking a business question of a data catalog however may not be any more fruitful than posing a question to a circa 1985 card catalog at a local library.

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