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What is Data Lineage?

Data Lineage allows you to visualize the life cycle of data through a clear mapping and is a highly sought-after feature of the Data Catalog. Defining the origins and transformations of data is an essential step in any data governance strategy. We explain everything you need to know on the subject. Let’s dive in!

Data Lineage is the visual representation of the data life cycle. This mapping allows you to see the origin of the data, its transformations, and its uses. This tool is vital for understanding how specific data has moved and been used in the past and its daily use.

Often appearing as a tree chart, it contains:

  • the origin and sources of the data (inputs, APIs, connected objects…) ;
  • its location in your information system;
  • the transformations and treatments it has undergone from the source to the final uses (aggregation, normalization);
  • the people who transformed and processed the data;
  • the final uses of the data (specific reporting, decision making, etc.).

The Data Lineage links the different components of the Data Catalog: the glossary, the dictionary, etc. Each user thus has access to all the information on the data and its path within the company.

Types of lineage

Business lineage

Business data lineage follows the data that business users utilize. This type of lineage tends to be more simplified and focuses primarily on ensuring the data is reliable and comes from a trustworthy source. It does not need to contain every data step or revision.

Technical lineage

As you might expect, technical data lineage goes much further into depth on how the data is used and transformed over time. Technical lineage reveals data flow through various applications and services to update and structure a Data Architecture.

Data Lineage: 7 Key Benefits

#1: Support your regulatory and compliance initiatives

GDPR plays a key role when it comes to data management and governance. You must have an overview of the reporting processes, indicators, calculation rules, and data used by your teams. Control is even stricter for sensitive sectors such as banking or financial services, which must comply with LCB-FT regulations. All these regulations require the traceability of customer data. All companies that collect data and data must be able to track it.

With Data Lineage, you can access a clear and precise visual output of all your data. This data mapping responds to the challenge of regulations on the protection of personal data.

#2: Improve data governance

Data Lineage provides a shared vision of the company’s data flows and metadata. It is an essential step in the construction of true data governance.

Data Lineage allows you to:

  • Share clear data quality rules;
  • Design an efficient architecture for your information system;
  • Transmit important business value to the company.

#3: Track errors easily

With a complete history of the data’s path and transformations, it is much easier for organizations to identify errors and fix them quickly. It also makes transforming and implementing changes easier and less risky. Technical teams rely on data lineage to analyze data management problems (erroneous data sources, duplicates, etc.) and then correct them. This information allows quick and easy troubleshooting and helps ensure the data’s quality.

#4: Save time

Data lineage makes it easier to automate data documentation. It also removes the need to manually conduct impact analysis, freeing up valuable time.

#5: Facilitate decision-making

Data lineage aids decision-making by giving a clear overview of the data’s lifecycle. All the company’s business referents (product, marketing, HR, finance teams, etc.) have easier access to accurate and reliable data.

#6: Automate extraction

Historically, data teams have had to record data lineage manually. Nowadays, we are lucky enough to have the technology to do it automatically. By automating the process, data users can save time and energy.

#7: Unlock business value

Tracing your data lineage is only the first step! Knowing how your data is used in various business processes is critical for making better and more optimized business decisions.

Why is Data Lineage important?

Data lineage provides a wealth of context for your data. While knowing a data’s source is important, it is crucial to visualize and understand its complete lifecycle. You should be able to trace your data to the port of entry and understand its flow, transformation, and storage at any time.

How each person in the company interacts with the data is different. For example, IT teams will be more interested in the data’s technical data lineage, whereas business users will be more concerned about how it is used to make high-level business decisions.

By visualizing the life cycle of data, as well as the origins and transformations along the data path, data lineage allows you to quickly grasp and understand how various data was created, modified and used. Ultimately, it allows companies to optimize the data manipulation process by improving the traceability of this process. It is an indispensable asset for all companies with a complex data system or for which data represents a strategic issue.

Conclusion

In conclusion, data lineage is a critical part of the Data Catalog and allows you to track your data’s origin, transformation, and downstream uses. It can provide essentially unlimited detail about what transformations have taken place during its lifetime—enough to satisfy the most data-picky of analysts. After all, any company that wants to be taken seriously in the digital age must have a handle on data lineage.

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