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What is a data catalog? And why do I need one?

Insights about the market and customers are essential for business success. But there have always been challenges in getting those insights. Today, you need a solution that integrates the best of analytics and data management capabilities to quickly and easily access the data and analyze the information you need—when and where you need it.

Technology has added more choices and complications

At one time, comparing statistics and analyzing data for business insights was a manual, often time-consuming exercise. Spreadsheets were usually the top tool of the trade, so to speak. Along came electronic technology, including relational databases, data warehouses, machine learning (ML) algorithms, web searching solutions, data visualization, and other tools with the potential to facilitate, accelerate, and automate the analytics process.

Yet, advances in technology and market demand have brought on many challenges. These challenges include a growing choice of competitive, sometimes incompatible analytics and data management solutions, creating technological silos within departments and organizations and with outside partners and vendors. Not only that, some of these solutions are so complicated that they require technical expertise beyond the average business user, which limits their usability.

Modern data sources have also taxed the ability of conventional relational databases and other tools to input, search, and manipulate one large category of data. These tools were designed to handle structured information, such as names, dates, and addresses. Unstructured data produced by modern data sources, including email, text, video, audio, word processing, and satellite images, can’t be processed and analyzed using conventional tools.

Accessing all those data sources and being able to determine what is valuable is not easy, especially since the majority of data being produced today is semi-structured or unstructured. And the amount of data continues to dramatically increase.

Dealing with a fast-paced market

Adding to these challenges, organizations are being flooded with data from all directions at a time when staying ahead in the market depends on quickly accessing data across teams and the enterprise and using it to obtain accurate, deeper insights about:

  • Customers
  • The market, including competitors
  • What has happened in the past
  • What’s happening now
  • What the future holds

Making use of the information

If you were dealing with only one customer sitting across the table from you, it would be easy to gather the necessary information and act on it. But how many businesses only have one customer? To get the typical customer pool, you’d have to multiply that one customer by a hundred, a thousand, or many more times.. Add in marketing and customer data being provided in a variety of ways and from diverse sources away from the table. With those conditions, obtaining the information you need—and knowing how to move forward—can be difficult. It requires a data analytics solution that is up to the task.

What to consider for your data analytics solution

If you want to build a more insight-driven organization, there are plenty of data analytics products on the market today. But to support all the different ways that your organization will be using its data, here are a few things to keep in mind. You want a single platform that integrates analytics and data management capabilities. Such a solution avoids the compatibility and access issues of a legacy environment that has multiple solutions for reporting, discovery, analysis, and recommendations. Everything is together so it will be easier to provision and bring you business value faster.

You also want a platform that resides in the cloud yet can access data in on–premises and/or hybrid environments. Fast, easy access to the data as well as the analytics enables everyone across your organization to gain insights and make informed decisions.

An end-to-end solution

Look for a solution that supports the entire analytics process, from gathering the data to providing insights and prescriptive actions—with the security, flexibility, reliability, and speed to be a viable business intelligence solution.

The ideal solution offers modern analytic tools that are predictive, intuitive, self-learning, and adaptive.

Leveraging all data

Choose a solution that accesses and analyzes available data of any size and in any location from applications (including the Internet of Things), departments, and third-parties, structured and unstructured, onsite, and in the cloud.

Such a solution streamlines data processing to unlock the true value of analyzing all data, uncovering hidden patterns and relevant insights to help users make informed, data-driven decisions.

Improving productivity

The ideal solution optimizes all steps in your data workflow. That makes data and analytics processes faster. Built-in capabilities, such as machine learning, accelerate model building. Efficiency is enhanced everywhere in the process including data gathering, discovering insights, and decision-making.

Benefiting from a single source of truth

Data is consolidated into a single source, for trustworthy analytics, insights, and results. The solution provides consistency and accuracy with a unified view of data, metrics, and insights.

Accelerating insights

Look for a solution with augmented analytics, such as embedded artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to simplify, accelerate, and automate tasks—giving you the power to dig deeper and faster into your market. It automatically collects and consolidates data from multiple sources and recommends new datasets for analysis.

Look for a solution with augmented analytics such as embedded artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to simplify, accelerate, and automate tasks—to give you the power to dig deeper and faster into your market. It automatically collects and consolidates data from multiple sources and recommends new datasets for analysis.

Freeing up IT

To realize its potential as a business tool, analytics needs to be democratized. That means having a solution that doesn’t require IT assistance. Anyone in your organization with the proper authorization should be able to use it.

The ideal analytics solution is designed for self-service, with point-and-click or drag-and-drop functionality and guided, step-by-step navigation. Users can load, import their data, and analyze it from any angle on their own.

Best practice solutions offer users the self-service capability to find, understand, govern, and track data assets across the enterprise based on metadata and business context, accelerating time to value. This makes it easy to find fit-for-use data. Data discovery, collaboration, and governance can be enhanced with user-defined annotations, tags, and business glossary terms.

Visualizing data

Analytics has the potential to give you a detailed image of your business landscape. To help make the most of that potential, you want a smart solution that can automatically transform data into visual presentations. This allows you to see and understand patterns, relationships, and trends that might be missed with a spreadsheet of raw numbers. It also lets you create data mash-ups to get new, unique insights. You can do that without specialized training, thanks to smart technology.

On-the-go analytics

You want a solution that can give your people access to the information they need when they are on the road. But not all mobile analytics solutions are created equal.

Consider one that not only offers voice-enabled access and real-time alerts, but also advanced capabilities to help your people be even more productive. Those capabilities include creating mobile analytical applications with interactive visuals from a phone or tablet—without writing code. Or imagine a solution that looks at your digital footprint, knows you’re about to attend a meeting out of town, and delivers insights to help that meeting be a success.

Designed for automated operation and maintenance

Since uptime is critical for business success, consider a solution that minimizes the challenges of operating and maintaining a system. For example, the cloud-based Oracle Autonomous Database features end-to-end automation.

This solution delivers automated provisioning, patching, upgrading, tuning, and more. It performs all routine database maintenance tasks while the system is running. And it performs those tasks without human assistance. The solution is also self-securing, applying security patches with no downtime, automatically encrypting all data, and intercepting data leads. Additionally, Oracle machine learning moves the algorithms to the data into the database, processing data where it resides—minimizing or eliminating data movement, achieving scalability, preserving security, and accelerating time-to-model deployment.

Get all those advantages with Oracle

Choose Oracle and you’ll get a single, integrated platform that combines Oracle Analytics and Oracle Autonomous Database. It’s a simple, repeatable solution with the best elements of analytics and powerful autonomous data services. That means obstacles are removed, data is brought together into a single source of truth, and highly actionable insights are unlocked—fast—which makes it an ideal data analytics solution to guide strategic business decisions.