5 questions to ask before purchasing a data discovery tool

mike miranda

Guest blog: Mike Miranda, Blogger, Rocket Software.

Mike Miranda writes about enterprise software and covers products offered by software companies like Rocket Software about topics such as Terminal Emulation, Legacy Modernization, Enterprise Search, Big Data, Data Discovery, Enterprise Mobility and more.


The ultimate goal of any business or industry is to maximise sales. In this day and age of incredibly impressive technology, that all-important monetary goal can be realised via the utilisation of cutting-edge methodologies. Those methodologies absolutely must replace any outdated tech options that cannot keep pace with a progressive enterprise’s expectations, desires and demands. Bringing order and clarity into the enterprise’s performance-fold is the name of the game. Utilising a new-technology initiative, such as data discovery tools, is like using a nuclear-powered icebreaker moving through ice-impacted waters – it gets the job done!

Data discovery tools are what business-intelligence architecture is all about. Clarity, speed, visualisation and interactive processes are key components; and they are the underpinnings in everything from publishing a dashboard with multiple views, to providing spreadsheets and databases to receiving the freshest data with a live connection. Want quick analytics? – you got it!  Desire super-fast sharing? – consider it done! Want user-friendly, smart dashboards? – not a problem! Need to explore copious amounts of data at any-time, anywhere – it’s yours at your fingertips! How about automatic updates? Data discovery tools keep you covered!

A user-driven process will search for patterns or targeted items in a data-set through the use of interactive reports. One can effortlessly combine data from multiple sources into a single repository and create dynamic, interactive dashboards, reports and analyses. Observable data takes on a life of its own by way of stunning visualisations.

Data-discovery-tool technology is all about driving your data. Any business user who desires to perform his or her particular data analysis and reporting can do so with a data discovery tool. The bottom line is: smarter, quicker, more-transparent business decisions are generated; and that equates to results-driven outcomes.

data discovery - is it worth it

When it comes times to purchase a data discovery tool, several questions should be on your list:

1: Are Data Discovery Tools Universally Self-Service?

One thing to keep in mind is that some companies will state that their data-discovery products are self-service; but what you may not be told is that you might be required to purchase a data-prep tool to retrieve data. Preparing data is demanding, so be sure to select a data-discovery tool that allows data prep to be handled without having to rely on external support. Controlled, self-service discovery caters to both users and IT departments.  A discovery platform serves IT by providing those team-members with 100% visibility to the data and analytic applications, while satisfying users’ desires to upload and combine data on their own.

Quality solutions will include integrated tools minimising the business user’s reliance on IT support. The integrated tools must also offer the right balance between governance, functionality and ease-of-use in order for companies to achieve true self-service BI. Integrated tools will implement the use of a GUI to highlight common functions, while hiding less used ones, thereby increasing workflow and allowing the end user to more efficiently profile data sets, make changes, apply calculations and publish the results. The GUI will also enable users to quickly switch between data prep and visualisation screens making modifications to data sets easier.

2:  Do Data Discovery Tools Require Assistance from IT?

Business users embrace the ability to prepare their own, personal dashboards and explore data in new ways, for two reasons:  1) individual empowerment and 2) sheer practicality. Performing tasks without assistance from IT is huge for users; and data discovery tools satisfy that longed-for independence. With that being said, even though IT intervention is not a requisite, the on-going relationship between users and IT staff remains in place, as it must. It becomes the best of both worlds: data discovery tools empower the business to self-serve while IT stewardship is preserved.

As mentioned, data discovery tools serve a dual purpose by providing for the needs of users and IT staff, on a continual basis. Users have complete access to data and can create dashboards that are relative to their needs. And because of that, the level of requests for reports and dashboards from IT is dramatically reduced. This allows IT to, more intently, concentrate on development projects and system improvements. Software solutions that support data discovery, such as business intelligence platforms with innovative visualisation capabilities, mean non-technical users can execute meaningful and intuitive analyses of any enterprise information. All while bypassing unnecessary IT involvement.

3:  Do Data Discovery Tools Permit User-Interaction?

If one were to ask, “Do data discovery tools allow users to interact with the data?” the answer would be an unequivocal ‘yes!’. Users can play with the data and create, modify and drill down on a particular display. The collaborative-component feature of a data discovery tool engages team-member interaction with corporate data sources to visually unveil trends and outliers. Data discovery enables spontaneous, dynamically optic and multivariate analyses. Images can be altered for measurement, comparisons and observation by way of zooming, pivoting, re-sorting, etc.

4:  Are Data Discovery Tools Designed for Enterprise Use?

Utilising self-service discovery tools, while upholding IT stewardship, creates an ideal business environment. Conducive to increasingly sound decision-making – and the enterprise reaps the rewards. Data discovery tools serve as an enterprise’s right-hand man and become invaluable when incorporated into a company’s infrastructure and business practice. Data from every department, platform, and campaign can be combined in one place which allows information to be viewed in context, so better decisions can be made.

Within the enterprise, data discovery tools provide a plethora of benefits, such as:

1) Data from spreadsheets, departmental databases, enterprise data warehouses and third-party data sources can be accessed and deciphered, far more efficiently.

2) Multidimensional information can be transformed into colorful, mind-grabbing optics—3D bar and pie charts, histograms, scatter plots and so much more!

3) Enterprise solutions can be delivered within the realms of business information and analytics, storage, networks & compliance, application development, integration, modernisation and database servers and tools.

5:  Do Data Discovery Tools Allow for the Retrieval of Answers, at any Time?

Yet one more invaluable feature of data discovery tools is its capacity for users to make inquiries and glean answers swiftly and seamlessly.  Geographic boundaries become non-existent with data discovery tools – files can be loaded on a laptop, a mobile phone or other mobile devices, irrespective of location.  With a few clicks, data can be retrieved, 24/7, from servers, any workstation or PC, whether miles apart or oceans apart.

Charts, graphs, maps and other visuals and data portfolios can be merged within smart dashboards and interactive apps. Crucial answers to vital questions and time-sensitive issues can be revealed with impressive speed. Specialists can distribute and share the data with all designated users via the web and mobile devices – anytime, anywhere.

Data discovery tools are changing business intelligence by minimising time spent pulling and manipulating data. Data discovery tools allow for maximised time toward prioritised activities – analysing and sharing data, and serving up discoveries and proposals to provide enhanced insight to optimally move a business forward.

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CEO.digital Author: Mike Miranda writes about enterprise software and covers products offered by software companies like rocket software about topics such as Terminal Emulation, Legacy Modernisation, Enterprise Search, Big Data, Data Discovery, Enterprise Mobility and more.

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