Data Analytics Blog - Real-World Applications | MicroStrategy

Partner Spotlight: Data Cataloging with Alation

Every day, we work with our partners to meet the analytics and business intelligence needs of our joint customers. By combining technical knowledge and expertise with industry experience, we're able to solve many of the toughest business challenges facing companies today.

One of the partners that we work closely with is Alation. They provide a data cataloging solution that lets customers find, understand, and collaborate on data. By connecting to a company's data sources through MicroStrategy, and displaying a catalog of all data assets, the Alation Data Catalog provides a single source of reference for enterprise data.

In addition to providing an inventory of data, Alation enriches it through a combination of machine learning and human collaboration. It parses usage logs to determine how the data has been used, i.e. how often it was accessed and by which users. It also provides context to help everyone at an organization, from the CDO to less technical business users, find new insights and spark conversations around the data – all while ensuring governance.

Another platform feature, the Alation Data Explorer, seamlessly integrates with MicroStrategy to allow users to work directly with the Alation Catalog from within the MicroStrategy ecosystem. Users can open the Data Explorer interface to search or browse for schemas, tables, queries, reports, wiki pages, and more. Once there, users can select the best option, and immediately start working with that asset. With just a few clicks, it can totally transform a company’s workflow by allowing users to gain access to the full functionality of the Alation Data Catalog including titles, descriptions, flags, tags, and even conversations.

Powering real-time transactions in the real world

A large global e-commerce leader that connects millions of buyers and sellers daily has adopted the powerful combination of Alation and MicroStrategy to respond quickly to changes in incoming data. This company has an incredibly complex data environment made simple by MicroStrategy. However, parsing through the data manually to get answers to questions is inefficient. By employing Alation jointly with MicroStrategy, the company was able to:

  • Reduce the time it takes to create business rules and documentation from years to months
  • Shorten the time it takes to on-board an analyst by six months
  • Accelerate the time it takes to find answers from hours or days to just minutes
  • Enable collaboration and knowledge sharing between analysts, even across departmental lines

Organizations that deploy a data catalog can also expect to see other additional benefits because there is a built-in incentive for users to participate in the knowledge sharing that takes place. Any policies, rules, or business metrics put in place can be easily shared among different teams using the same data catalog. For example, if the definition of how to calculate revenue differs from one team to the next, you will get vastly different results – rendering this data unreliable. With a data catalog the query is stored and is readily available for reuse so that users don’t have to recreate calculations each time they want to see a specific metric. 

The integration with MicroStrategy provides visibility into the complete data pipeline – from data analysis through dashboards and applications. It also enables reporting that allows data stewards to identify potential problems before they spread throughout the organization.

From IT mandated to self-service

Most companies face the same problems in moving to a self-service model for analytics.

  • Distributing tribal knowledge to employees across different functions and departments
  • Finding a way to deal with complex data environments where data is stored in multiple silos, databases, data lakes, and analytical or business intelligence tools
  • Maintaining the balance between data governance and end user agility

Alation provides MicroStrategy with a single, trusted point of reference for all users that is easy to use, fast to deploy, and scalable across an organization. The Alation Data Catalog is built for the kind of self-service analytics that MicroStrategy customers embrace. Business users who have never worked with data before can quickly come up to speed in the environment, perform natural language searches, and collaborate on data analysis alongside the people who are creating and curating the data. Everyone can rate data for its usefulness, much like individuals rate restaurants in a consumer catalog such as Yelp. Data stewards or chief data officers can tag assets, annotate and deprecate them, and add to data governance capabilities already built in to MicroStrategy. Ultimately, users can discover assets they didn’t know existed, verify their validity, and use them immediately in their MicroStrategy dashboards.

Interested in learning more about how Alation integrates with MicroStrategy? Check out their presentation from MicroStrategy World.

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