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3 Top Benefits of Data Discovery and Cataloging

Authors Photo Precisely Editor | February 23, 2021

Large organizations are faced with a rapidly growing volume of data. To make matters more challenging, the velocity of that data has also increased dramatically. Businesses that can master data discovery, profiling, and cataloging will be better equipped to pinpoint anomalies, identify patterns, and draw valuable insights from the information it contains.

In recent years, it has commonly been said that “data is the new oil”–that is, the companies that are successful at extracting, refining, and putting data to use will leapfrog their competition and establish a long-term competitive advantage. Given the tremendous volume and velocity of data that is now being generated and collected, many business leaders are faced with a growing sense that their data assets are locked in systems and inadequately organized to address the tasks ahead of them. It is imperative that business leaders take control of their data.

Taking control of data begins with data discovery, cataloging, and profiling. Here are some of the key benefits that arise from a thorough data discovery and cataloging strategy:

1.  Data discovery and cataloging helps to ensure data quality

Data quality encompasses the accuracy, completeness, and consistency of data assets. It’s hard to imagine starting down the road toward data quality, though, without first having any inventory of the various systems and databases within the organization.

Most large organizations grapple with multiple information silos. The principles of data quality dictate that those systems be in sync and remain consistent. Moreover, it is important that various teams throughout the organization have a common understanding of the purpose and meaning of available data. It must be possible to reconcile disparate systems where they touch upon common information, such as customer data.

Inconsistencies are especially prevalent between specialized operating systems and overarching systems of record such as ERP and CRM. Sales personnel often record the names of companies or contacts differently in CRM than they eventually appear in an ERP system, for example.

Those missing links between CRM and ERP result in diminished overall visibility to sales and forecasts, which can have a downstream effect on supply chain and inventory management. Duplicate records, inconsistencies in formatting, and inaccuracies are all common problems that organizations encounter due to siloed data, and each of these problems creates a data quality issue.

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When an organization begins the process of cataloging and profiling its data, it can begin to rein in some of those inconsistencies and build a stronger data quality program. Data stewards can likewise establish greater visibility into decaying data quality. CRM databases, for example, tend to suffer from obsolete data relatively quickly, unless a proactive data quality program is put into place. Discovering, cataloging, and profiling the various systems and sources of data within the organization is a first step toward making data quality a reality.

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2. Data discovery and cataloging expands the possibilities for data-driven competitive advantage

The vast majority of leading enterprises understand that in order to compete in the 2020s, they must take an aggressive data-driven approach toward understanding the domain in which they operate and managing their business to measurable performance standards.

The oldest adage in computer technology says that when the input is flawed, the system will produce the wrong output: “garbage in, garbage out” (“GIGO”). As the volume and velocity of data available to enterprises continue to grow rapidly, this GIGO problem will only get worse, unless business leaders are able to see the problem coming and create the appropriate processes and strategies to mitigate it.

Data-driven advantage rests on more than just improved quality, though. It requires knowing the landscape, understanding the world of data assets that reside within the four walls of the corporation (or within its cloud environment), as well as connecting that information to high-quality third-party data sources.

It is all too common to find situations in which one department is entirely unaware of the information collected and managed by another department. When information is stored in key systems such as ERP or CRM, that lack of visibility is less likely. When the data is stored in spreadsheets, local databases, or cloud-based SaaS systems, awareness of such data assets across silos diminishes rapidly.

Discovery, cataloging, and profiling are the key steps toward gaining a comprehensive understanding of what information is available. Until that happens, organizations will miss out on a great deal of potential value.

3. Data discovery and cataloging enables compliance with increasingly complex regulations

As the amount of available personal data has increased dramatically, so too have government regulations designed to ensure that the privacy and security of that information are protected. The European Union has led the way with its groundbreaking General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) enacted similar measures in that state. Other governments have followed suit or are considering similar legislation.

Regulated industries, likewise, must comply with stringent security measures to ensure that confidential information is safeguarded.


These regulations raise new issues around the storage and retention of information, including the location of servers where that data is stored. Financial penalties for violations can be severe. Regulatory actions generally result in negative publicity as well, which can have further adverse effects.

In order to ensure compliance with GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, and similar regulatory measures, companies must understand what personal information they have, where it came from, where it is stored, how it is secured, and who has access to it.

The Precisely advantage

Discovering, cataloging, and profiling corporate data is a first critical step toward a comprehensive data strategy that will help to improve data quality, increase opportunities to gain competitive advantage, and further the organization’s efforts to maintain compliance in an increasingly complex world.

At Precisely, we help companies achieve a competitive advantage with better data to support better decisions. To learn more about how your organization can leverage data as a strategic asset, download our eBook:  Creating an Agile Data Quality Strategy for Effective Regulatory Compliance.