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Taming the Data for Better BI

Campus Technology – David Raths – The secret to successful business intelligence is data governance and a metadata repository that connects data to standardized definitions across the campus. [h/t Pete Weiss]

“In 2015, the University of Washington began work on its own repository called the Knowledge Navigator, which is designed to give context to the enterprise data warehouse and allow business users to see relationships between concepts, terms, tables, columns and reports. “Someone who is exploring a business question such as how many women graduated with STEM degrees last year can find agreed-upon definitions of terms like STEM and then navigate to the database,” explained Matt Portwood, a UW metadata analyst. Most such repositories are designed for metadata management by data architects, noted Pieter Visser, a UW solutions architect. “They are not created for the end-user at all,” he said. In contrast, Knowledge Navigator was intended to be a tool for everybody. Visser described it as being like Google for your metadata: “We try to make it as easy as possible to find how everything is related to everything else. You can start with your business terms and go all the way to the Tableau visualization or web service, and we give you the context right away.” In their metadata repository work, both UW and Notre Dame use graph database technology from Neo4j to represent entities and their relationships. Visser explained that within the metadata world, everything is related to everything else. “A resource in a web service or a label on a report can relate to a business term or a concept,” he said. “In a graph database you can easily connect any node to another node. Trying to do it in a relational database is almost impossible.”…

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