The Importance of Data Lineage in a Small Business

Big data has been making big headlines, even among those who manage their own company. In fact, in a recent survey, entrepreneurs claimed to prefer virtual data rooms to most other technologies when sharing information.

Nevertheless, few people ever seem to dedicate much time to thinking about data itself and where it comes from. However, the industry is changing in that respect as people quickly want to know more about what information is being collected on them. Also, they want to know how third-party developers are using it.

Data Lineage in Business

Defining Data Lineage

What is data lineage? It’s a question that stumps even many experts in the field because it can be rather hard to explain concisely. Simply, data lineage refers to the lifecycle that specific pieces of information go through during their existence.

Organizations can use this information to gain insights into how data travels through different pipelines. Small business owners might want to know what happens to their data when processed into reports or database entries. Those who use traditional discrete files stored in a cloud container will doubtlessly want to trace the path it takes to get there.

Larger enterprises are already starting to leverage their knowledge of these pathways in the hopes of monetizing them. Interestingly, they primarily partner with entrepreneurs and tech startups to handle the information. Smaller businesses that don’t take the opportunity to keep up with their larger counterparts could risk falling behind.

Best of all, this can even be looked at as a chance to increase privacy and protect business interests from outside interference.

How Small Businesses Track their Data Lineage

Business intelligence teams primarily draw their data lineage maps out by hand, mainly because they work inside multi-vendor environments that are highly complicated to parse. These environments rely on so many different types of technology that their IT department staffers aren’t always adequately trained to take care of. They might not always have the right tools to tackle the job either.

As a result, people working in larger enterprise-level operations can’t always track the history of where their data moves. However, those who manage smaller businesses might be slightly better positioned to take on this unique challenge.

For instance, startup companies can select every piece of software they work with from the ground up. If they only want to pick solutions they’re experienced with, they can do so.

They’re also in a good position if they’d prefer to only select tools that have recently been released. Those who like to work on the bleeding edge could incorporate data lineage tools that incorporate social networking accounts or those that use sophisticated computer science structures like binary trees.

Companies who elect to work with an outside developer might experience even more growth, provided that they don’t mind giving their developers relatively free reign to write code however they see fit.

Developers Building the Best Data Lineage Environments

Some small business owners have decided that since data lineage is such an important field, it’s equally vital to ensure that they have at least some control over the development process. They might decide to limit the number of tools that programmers can work with or set certain conditions that need to be fulfilled.

Unfortunately, this is often not the best way to track where your data has been and what reports or databases are being compiled from it. Business intelligence engineers like to have at least some freedom to do as they wish. In some cases, they’ve been able to develop rather unusual solutions in this manner. For instance, one engineer coded an entire enterprise system using the off-beat X# platform.

Startup companies have the freedom to experiment a bit at first, so this should be looked at as a good opportunity. Forward-thinking firms can track additional ETL processes before they’re even instantiated, which can significantly increase the odds of successful data monetization.

It can also help to slash technology costs over time.

How Data Lineage can Lead to Lower Costs

As smaller businesses grow, they tend to develop certain hiccups along the way. Those that have tracked all of their data know where these problems lie. Whether they’re dealing with potential security issues or need to purchase new physical hardware, these firms are in a better position to do so because they’ll see the problems coming.

Having a solid data lineage routine in place can ensure that a firm’s database management techniques succeed.

Dragan Sutevski

Posted by Dragan Sutevski

Dragan Sutevski is a founder and CEO of Sutevski Consulting, creating business excellence through innovative thinking. Get more from Dragan on Twitter. Contact Dragan