data dictionary vs data catalog vs business glossary

The Guide to Understanding the Difference Between a Business Glossary, a Data Catalog, and a Data Dictionary

May 21, 2023
May 21, 2023
21 May 2023

You’ve put data at the center of your company’s business strategy, but the amount of data you have to handle is exploding. You, therefore, not only need 360° visibility on your data portfolio but also a vision of the uses that can be made of it.

To do this, you can combine the actions and benefits of three essential pillars: the data catalog, the data dictionary, and the business glossary. Read this article to discover more.

Producing data is great. Gaining business knowledge from it is even better! Because the successful implementation of a data culture is a top priority of your business strategy, you need to transform the available information into operational tools for decision-making. By bridging together data and business, you will give your company (and your teams!) a new impetus.

But to achieve this, you must rely on three essential pillars: a data catalog, a data dictionary, and a business glossary. Three essential tools that will help you organize and improve your data management strategy: Although they are related, these tools are actually quite different!

What is a data catalog and what are its benefits?


A data catalog is a detailed inventory that lists all information from all of your organization’s data sources. Once unified in the catalog, it is more accessible, understandable, and actionable by your teams. A data catalog can collect and inventory several types of information such as datasets and their associated fields, data processes, visualizations, glossary objects (see section below), or even custom information specific to your company.

The data catalog plays a crucial role in your data strategy because it allows you to efficiently get an overview of your data, its quality, and availability, as well as its associated metadata such as its definition, associated contacts, provenance, format, etc. Another main advantage of using a data catalog is that it encourages the collaboration and sharing of data in all departments of your organization. It allows your teams to work together to identify, understand, and use data more effectively.

Finally, by centralizing the available information, a data catalog allows you to maintain a high level of data quality by ensuring that data is correctly identified, classified, documented, and maintained.

Why implement a business glossary and for what purpose


A business glossary is an essential component that helps establish a common understanding of business terms and definitions used in the organization. Its role: to facilitate communication and reduce errors or misunderstandings related to the use of your organization’s terms. It can include technical or financial definitions, procedures, or any other subject relevant to your organization!

By having a business glossary, you will almost mechanically improve data quality by ensuring that data is clearly defined and understood. It helps by reducing data entry errors, standardizing data formats, and increasing the reliability and accuracy of data.

Furthermore, the business glossary also helps you better manage regulatory compliance by standardizing the terms and definitions used in compliance reports and documents.

Finally, your Business Glossary contributes to faster and more reliable decision-making by providing a common knowledge base for all stakeholders in the decision-making chain.

What are the differences with a data dictionary?


A data dictionary is a third tool that will help you strengthen and boost your data strategy. This data management tool provides detailed information about the data used in your business based on a set of metadata. This metadata describes the data, its structure, its format, its meaning, its owner, and its use.

This description helps your employees, those who use data on a daily basis, to understand the data and to use it appropriately. A data dictionary is also a key tool for data quality management, as it allows you to monitor data quality by identifying errors and inconsistencies. It also facilitates data reuse, providing information about existing data and its meaning, making it easy to integrate into new applications or projects.

Want to give your data strategy a boost? Combining a business glossary, a data catalog, and a data dictionary will give you a complete and consistent view of the data and business terms used in your company.

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At Zeenea, we work hard to create a data fluent world by providing our customers with the tools and services that allow enterprises to be data driven.

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Chez Zeenea, notre objectif est de créer un monde “data fluent” en proposant à nos clients une plateforme et des services permettant aux entreprises de devenir data-driven.

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Das Ziel von Zeenea ist es, unsere Kunden "data-fluent" zu machen, indem wir ihnen eine Plattform und Dienstleistungen bieten, die ihnen datengetriebenes Arbeiten ermöglichen.

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