Blog > July 2021 > Recap of Recent ASG Customer Panel: Inside Data Lineage

Recap of Recent ASG Customer Panel: Inside Data Lineage

I recently had the privilege of hosting Inside Data Lineage: Lineage at Large, an ASG customer panel with Isabell St-Cyr of CSX Transportation, Ryan Doupe of American Fidelity Assurance (AFA), and Shaun Rankin of Huntington Bank. The trio shared how they use data lineage in their organizations to support their data strategies.
In case you missed it, the session is available on demand. Here are some of the highlights from this engaging panel:

Data Strategy – Where does Lineage fit in?

  • Data lineage drives fast access to high quality data - Rankin observed that users need an automated method of supporting and shopping for data insights, thus, an Intelligent Marketplace experience for assets like datasets, reports and AI models. Their business drivers for Data Intelligence are improved customer experience, increased revenue growth, improved operational efficiencies and reduced risk, in that order. Their data standards are tied to three simple questions: 
    1. What is it?
    2. Where is it from?
    3. Can I trust it?

Shaun noted that users can’t trust the data if they don’t know where it’s sourced from. The lineage shows the technical flow of the data as well as the business contexts of how the data is used and the business processes it supports – providing a direct correlation between the business and technical understanding of the data.

  • Companies can demystify their legacy stack with data lineage – Many larger companies that have been around for decades are challenged with siloed data assets that are stored in variety of mainframe and distributed systems. As IT employees began to retire, tribal knowledge becomes lost. Data lineage can fill in the gaps with end-to-end views on how data elements are stored, propagated, transformed and accessed.  “This understanding of the data increases the level of trust in data, as well as to assess the impact of changes and mitigate any associated risks,” St-Cyr said.
  • Second-generation CDO takes data strategies to next level with data lineage – When Doupe came on board his current position, a strong data governance foundation was already in place, including ASG DI. With all these things in place, Ryan has been able to focus on assessing AFA’s data maturity and overall data management practices. This analysis fed their roadmap of near- and long-term goals, including increased utilization of data governance tools and data lineage.

Doupe says, “From a data quality perspective, lineage builds trust with your users. When data quality issues are raised, The first question is always ‘Where did this data come from and did it get changed in anyway as it was moved?’ If you can explain where the data came from, you can move the conversation to ‘how do we fix the data at the source?’.”


Rankin observed that user experience, speed and accuracy are all paramount:

  • User experience: “Our mission is to give users the ‘white glove’ treatment. We try to create an “Apple-like” experience.”
  • Business alignment and speed: We want to understand what the business is working on and get them the data immediately. It can’t take 3 months to build a report.
  • Accurate but flexible: “The data has to be accurate yet allow for various domain meanings and perspectives. We allow users to bring their perspective and really monitor search patterns

“Data should flow like water,” Rankin continued. “Get the data out. From a governance perspective, you want to get out of the way. Let people bring their own perspectives. Things that work will get voted up. Things that don’t work and are less used and will die a natural death.  If you put all the governance on the front end, you will stifle the innovation.  Collective feedback and data transparency will keep the data fresh and trustworthy.  The bad data will die a natural death.”


Data Lineage Use Case Live Poll

A poll of attendees showed that Data & Analytics has quickly moved to the forefront of corporate data initiatives, followed by modernization and cloud migration. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Data & Analytics: 47%
  • Modernization: 38%
  • Compliance: 15%

Data Lineage Manages Change and Mitigates Risk

St-Cyr uses data lineage to scope new IT initiatives, identify what processes are involved and mitigate  any downstream impacts to applications and reports when changes are made.

  • Identify usage via CRUD queries –  Previously, CRUD queries were sent offshore and it would typically take two months to get the results back. With their lineage environment, a developer can push a button and retrieve all the data and code they need from their datastore. 
  • Find and rationalize unnecessary data duplication during a Cloud Migration – Prior to migrating data to the Cloud, St-Cyr’s team uses lineage to identify data from a source system that is being reused by other applications or has already been migrated. This analysis helps IT to reuse code, streamline processes and eradicate “data debt.”  They are also able to identify migrations that are not following data standards or privacy policies.
    • Pinpoint changes that will impact business users – With data lineage, St-Cyr can identify  transformations with direct access to Peoplesoft views. The lineage also identifies the owners of the data and applications accessing the transformations. Armed with this knowledge, IT can engage the appropriate stakeholders to mitigate downstream impacts of planed changes.

Data Lineage Builds Information Supply Chain for Critical Data Elements

By understanding the data flow, users can easily identify whether data is of good quality and can be trusted. Rankin said his company began their data journey by identifying 30 Critical Data Elements (CDEs) on which efforts are focused. With ASG DI’s metadata repository as the System of Record for these CDEs, business subject matter experts (SMEs) define the business terminology, policies, rules and identification of personally identifiable information (PII) in ASG DI’s Business Glossary.

The Business Glossary provides a common vocabulary and offers navigation technical metadata, including ETLs, source code, data dictionary definitions, quality scores and more. The business and IT context merge together to provide common views to make data understandable and trusted across the enterprise. From within ASG DI’s searchable browser or even individual end-user applications like Excel, users can easily locate the highest quality data for their needs or review data definitions in context.

Data Lineage Accelerates Migration to the Cloud

Rankin has recently been using ASG DI for discovery prior to migrate their Data Warehouse to the Cloud (Snowflake). Lineage will accelerate the move by pruning data and tables that aren’t really needed; for instance, data that is redundant, not being used or obsolete. By rationalizing data assets before the migration, migration efforts take less time and effort and the new environment with only trusted, quality data.

By taking these steps before the migration, Rankin’s team is also able to influence behavior by providing a marketplace of data assets with the highest quality, most trusted data assets rather than overwhelming the user with everything that is available.

In Summary

It was truly inspiring to hear directly from our customers about how ASG DI is driving data value for them. Last week, we also had the opportunity to hear from ASG partners, Accenture and Daugherty, to get their insights on trends and best practices for data lineage.  In case you missed it, here’s a link to watch it on demand.  I’ll also be recapping this exciting webinar in my next blog.

Posted: 7/27/2021 8:00:00 AM by Susan Laine - Global DI Evangelist
Filed under :Data_Intelligence, DI, Lineage

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June 23, 2021 | 11 AM ET

Inside Data Lineage: Lineage at Large Customer Panel

This ASG Customer panel of data lineage leaders will introduce you to real-world use cases of data lineage and share lessons learned along the way. You'll emerge with new insights into how you can accelerate your data journey w...