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Top 11 Data Governance Tools to Confidently Act Upon Your Data

Modern organizations generate enormous amounts of data, which can be hard to manage and follow. Data governance tools help adjust data-related processes, making it easier to manage data access, collaborate on insights, and deal with terabytes of information scattered around the company.

A single data asset may undergo hundreds of modifications a day, so it’s hard to tell where something has gone wrong without the right tool. From minor miscalculations to massive data leaks, incorrect information exposes everything to risks.

We’ve outlined the 11 best data governance tools and their features, so you can start handling your data the right way, faster. We’ve also explained how data governance helps businesses and individual business users better handle data, manage access, and set privacy policies.

Is that what you were looking for? Then let’s get started.

Table of contents:

Data governance in a nutshell

How data governance benefits businesses, analysts, and marketers

Benefits for businesses

Benefits for analysts

Benefits for marketers

4 things to consider before choosing a data governance tool

The problems you’re planning to solve

The type of data you operate

The features of a data governance tool

The types of teams and specialists working with your data

Top 11 data governance tools to optimize your insights and make informed decisions

#1 Axon Data Governance

#2 SAP Master Data Governance

#3 Alation

#4 Apache Atlas

#5 Semarchy xDM

#6 OvalEdge

#7 Oracle Enterprise Metadata Management

#8 Immuta

#9 IBM InfoSphere Information Governance Catalog

#10 Google Cloud Data Catalog

#11 Atlan

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Data governance in a nutshell

💡Data governance is the process of organizing data and managing its availability, usability, security, and integrity in an organization for efficient use of data in the company’s strategic activities.

Data governance involves various tools, specialists, regulations, and performance metrics to ensure consistent and reliable insights. With well-designed data flows, organizations can define who can access data, what actions they can take in relation to it, by what methods, and much more.

As a result, businesses achieve a golden mean between data security and accessibility. By balancing these two factors, data governance provides the optimal conditions for analysts and other users to get the most value out of their data while keeping it safe from misuse.

How data governance benefits businesses, analysts, and marketers

Before diving into the tool discovery phase, we need to determine what benefits data governance brings to companies at large and individual users within the company.

Benefits for businesses

The majority of data-centered companies have one major drawback: data silos.

💡A data silo is a dataset owned by one group (e.g., a department) that other groups in the same organization can’t easily access.

Organizations solve this problem in different ways. And different ways may lead to different outcomes.

🧰 Learn how to remove data silos inside your organization with marketing data centralization. 🧰

The fun part comes when companies grant excessive access to data to each and every employee. That’s when junior employees accidentally modify crucial datasets, someone deletes backup files, or your accountant downloads sensitive data onto a pen drive and loses it in the nearest cafeteria. That’s what we call 100% transparent data processes.

Data governance determines who can access data and what actions each person can take in relation to the dataset.

Data stewards, one of the leading roles in data governance projects, maintain data control and data access management.

Key benefits:

  • Full control over the data access provided to employees
  • Increases data security
  • Eliminates data silos without the risk of data exposure

Benefits for analysts

Data governance is not only about setting up regulations. It’s also about providing analysts with self-service BI tools.

According to Forbes, 78% of executives and analysts recognize the value of data governance in business intelligence processes. Inconsistent data and multiple versions of truth make the analysis process much more complicated than it has to be.

With a well-thought-out data governance process, analysts can focus on their primary tasks: analyzing data and extracting valuable insights from it.

Key benefits:

  • Increased productivity among analysts
  • Increased quality of insights for analysts
  • Quick and simple access to the required data

Benefits for marketers

Marketers and marketing analysts also benefit from data governance.

Due to the absence of data silos between marketing and sales departments, marketers can quickly access insights about lead quality, new opportunities, customer reviews, and more. Previously, it could take hours of meaningless communication before the sales team would share the required insights. With data governance, marketers can access them with just a couple of clicks. 

Data granularity is another important benefit for analysts.

Manual data uploads from tens of marketing platforms often lead to inconsistent performance metrics and numbers. Poorly merged marketing numbers show misleading results from quarter to quarter and don’t allow for informed decision-making.

Data-centered companies use ETL systems to gather data automatically, using a predefined data extraction pattern for all their sources. Improvado, for example, fuels companies with centralized, analysis-ready data from 300+ marketing and sales sources

🏎️ Learn how to automate marketing reporting with zero code and get actionable insights faster. 🏎️

The combination of ETL and data governance tools helps marketing analysts remove any data inconsistencies, build holistic dashboards, and make the right decisions faster. There are many ways in which data governance helps marketers achieve quality data, ranging from drawing up datasets with accurate historical data to using ETL systems that automate marketing reporting.

Key benefits:

  • Precise and consistent performance metrics across all channels
  • Reduced time-to-insight
  • In-depth visibility into adjacent departments’ data

4 things to consider before choosing a data governance tool

Now that we know how data governance benefits businesses and business units, we can get closer to the tool discovery phase.

First off, you have to know what to look out for before choosing a data governance tool. There are four main factors to consider.

The problems you’re planning to solve

The first thing to consider is what problems you’re planning to solve with data governance.

Are you looking for a way to increase transparency and collaboration between departments?

Do you need a tool to help you monitor and control data changes in real time?

Maybe you want to automate your data quality management processes?

Without a clearly defined problem, data governance is just a bunch of keywords, a set of expensive tools, and a never-ending discussion about the role of distribution within the company.

Essentially, you need to know what problem you’re trying to solve so you don’t turn your data governance software into shelfware.

The type of data you operate

The next thing to consider is the type of data you’re working with.

Are you dealing with unstructured data? Do you need to govern relational databases? Are you looking for a way to control changes in NoSQL databases?

The purpose of your data also matters. For example, if you’re dealing with marketing performance metrics, they require special cleaning and transformation processes before getting into analysts’ hands.

🛀 Learn how to clean your marketing data and what tools can help you with it. 🛀

Your data governance tool should be able to handle the type of data you’re working with. Otherwise, it will be nothing but a waste of time and money.

The features of a data governance tool

Not all data governance tools are created equal.

Some of them offer more features than others. Here are the must-have features of a data governance tool:

  • Data discovery and classification
  • Metadata management
  • The ability to monitor and control changes in real time
  • An ability to establish rules for data quality management
  • Data lineage tracing

Features may vary depending on your business objectives. We’ll cover the features of all popular data governance tools later in this article so you can identify the one that meets your specific needs.

The types of teams and specialists working with your data

Last but not least, you have to consider who is working with your data.

Are you in charge of a small analytics team? Do you need enterprise-level software to govern the data of an entire company?

The technical proficiency of your team is another factor to take into account. Complex data transformations require analysts to have a strong knowledge of SQL or programming skills, such as Python or R.

If your team doesn’t have a solid technical background, it’s worth paying attention to no-code data pipelines, such as Improvado. Marketing and sales specialists can perform complex transformations in a spreadsheet-like UI.

Data transformations with Improvado
Data transformations with Improvado

So, understanding who works with your data sheds light on the type of tool you need and what functionalities it should have.

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Top 11 data governance tools to optimize your insights and make informed decisions

Having reviewed all of the essential aspects of data governance tools, the next logical step is to discuss the most popular data governance tools on the market today.

A good data governance tool provides full visibility into the organization’s data processes, makes access to data transparent, and correlates with your business objectives.

With this in mind, we drew up a list of the most efficient data governance tools available on the current market.

Let’s review each of them.

#1. Axon Data Governance

Axon Data Governance, developed by Informatica, is one of the leading data governance platforms. 

At its core, it’s a connection hub and data marketplace for effective, scalable data governance solutions.

Data governance tools: Axon Data Governance
Axon Data Governance: data quality dashboard

The platform uses AI and machine learning algorithms to automate the following tasks:

  • Navigation through large datasets
  • Data quality assessment
  • Distribution of data management roles across the organization
  • Creating and maintaining metadata categories
  • Etc.
Axon data governance: glossaries
Axon Data Governance: hierarchy of glossaries

It aids in the natural and simple creation of connections, gaps, and links between policies and the things they impact. With a curated data marketplace, teams can easily locate, access, and comprehend the information they require.

Additionally, Axon Data Governance assists in managing GDPR data risks, helps manage sensitive data, and ensures the relevance of all incoming information.

While we can see the obvious benefits of this software, some users also highlight its negative sides. Some reviews state that the software is immature and lacks basic functionalities.

Gartner: 3.9 / 5 out of 29 reviews

G2: 4.2 / 5 out of 6 reviews

TrustRadius: 6.8 / 10 out of 6 reviews

#2: SAP Master Data Governance

SAP Master Data Governance (MDG) is a tool for managing and governing enterprise-wide master data. It provides users with a single source of truth for all corporate master data and makes sure it’s consistent across different departments, geographies, and business processes.

Data governance tools: SAP Master Data Governance
SAP Master Data Governance: data quality dashboard | Source

This data governance solution can be implemented both in the cloud and on-premises. Like the majority of tools from this list, Master Data Governance lets you create, validate, and monitor data rules and analyze the performance of data management activities.

SAP Master Data Governance’s data model is very similar to SAP ERP, so it’s easy to integrate this data governance tool if you use SAP ERP.

Among other benefits, users admit interoperability with other SAP tools and comprehensible UI.

As for the drawbacks, users claim that older versions of SAP MDG have limited data quality functionalities, the tool costs more than its alternatives, and it requires a deep knowledge of SAP products.

By the way, the price for SAP MDG stands at $59 per block of 5,000 objects/month.

Gartner: 4.4 / 5 out of 102 reviews

G2: 4.3 / 5 out of 110 reviews

TrustRadius: 9.3 / 10 out of 29 reviews

#3. Alation

Alation offers a set of tools for data cataloging and data governance.

The Alation data governance app offers a convenient way to manage data regulations. The tool provides centralized storage for all policies called Policy Center. With its help, you can create all policies in a single place and see how each regulation is mapped to a particular piece of data.

Data governance tools: Alation
Alation’s Policy Center

Usually, management of data stewards and specific roles in the data governance process takes time and manual effort. The stewardship dashboard, powered by AI and ML algorithms, automates the discovery of data stewards based on who is using the data.

Alation’s stewards can assign regulations and control data across multiple data sets at once.

Alation: data stewardship dashboard
Alation data stewardship dashboard | Source

Among the positive qualities, users praise the platform’s security level and great user experience. Users also admire the number of features and the ability to connect Alation directly to the database to get metadata.

However, Alation has its drawbacks. Some users aren’t satisfied with the platform’s offering and support model, claiming that it can’t fully satisfy their business needs. Others claim the platform lacks specialized views for different users.

Gartner: 4.4 / 5 out of 149 reviews

G2: 4.3 / 5 out of 22 reviews

TrustRadius: 8.3 / 10 out of 14 reviews

#4. Apache Atlas

Apache Atlas is an open-source tool for data cataloging and data governance. It’s a great solution if you need to govern and manage heterogeneous entities and their relationships from a central location. 

 Data governance tools: Apache Atlas
Apache Atlas user interface | Source

With the help of Apache Atlas, you can define, manage, and monitor metadata standards across Hadoop and other technologies.

This data governance tool offers a centralized repository for all metadata that is used across the organization. It also provides users with an audit trail to track changes in metadata over time.

Apache Atlas: policy types
Apache Atlas data policy management | Source

In addition, Apache Atlas lets you create custom classifications for your business needs and supports integration with various Hadoop components.

Gartner: Unlisted

G2: 4.5 / 5

TrustRadius: 9 / 10

#5. Semarchy xDM

Semarchy xDM is a data management platform that offers a set of tools for data governance, data quality, and master data management.

The platform enables you to dig deeper and understand your existing data assets, identify data discrepancies, and identify points for improvement for your datasets. These are the key steps to preparing your data infrastructure for future data governance initiatives.

 Data governance tools: Semarchy xDM
Semarchy xDM product performance dashboard | Source

This tool provides users with the ability to create a business glossary, data catalogs, processes, and policies. It also offers a centralized repository for all metadata and lets you track changes in metadata over time.

Semarchy xDM also provides powerful browsing, search, and classification features to ensure a better understanding of the data landscape.

Semarchy xDM graph
Semarchy xDM graph view | Source

Users praise the simplicity and implementation speed of the platform. It allows analysts to set it up easily with almost any web tools and start managing data right away.

However, the platform has a steep learning curve due to the extensive feature set. Also, Semarchy doesn’t have a user community, meaning there will be no one to answer questions that go beyond the scope of the documentation. 

Gartner: 4.6 / 5 out of 138 reviews

G2: 4.8 / 5 out of 21 reviews

TrustRadius: Unlisted

#6. OvalEdge

OvalEdge is a cloud-based data governance tool that offers a set of features for data discovery, data quality management, and master data management.

OvalEdge leverages the three main Cs of data:

  • Cataloging
  • Collaboration
  • Compliance

The platform automatically catalogs all of your datasets, simplifying data asset discovery. You can index all of your data sources, such as relational databases, data warehouses, and cloud platforms to track the metadata of every file, table, analytics software, and so on.

Data governance tools: OvalEdge
OvalEdge crawler screen | Source

Like other tools from our list, OvalEdge has a role-based security system. You can assign roles to users and data sources. These roles define what data each user can access, how they can act on it, and what they can do with metadata.

OvelEdge role management dashboard
OvalEdge role management | Source

Users admire the platform’s collaboration tools for data privacy specialists and its API integration with the majority of today’s DBMS tools and data sources.

Gartner: 4.3 / 5 out of 5 reviews

G2: 5 / 5 out of 1 review

TrustRadius: 10 / 10 out of 2 reviews

#7. Oracle Enterprise Metadata Management

Oracle Enterprise Metadata Management (OEMM) is a data governance solution for enterprise-level companies and large data teams.

With its help, you can gather and catalog metadata from almost any metadata provider in the current market.

After cataloging all metadata, you can stitch it together to get a holistic architectural view of your current data environment. In other words, you can see the whole scope of your data from different data models, databases, analytics tools, ETL systems, and so on.

What’s more, OEMM has interactive searching and browsing features for all your metadata. It provides you with a complete data lineage and impact analysis for any data source. That means you don’t necessarily need to know how systems, applications, or databases work from a business perspective. You can browse through all metadata within these systems without physically accessing them.

While some users are happy with Oracle’s features and the number of available integrations, others don’t have the same level of satisfaction with this tool. Some users complain about its complicated navigation and very high entry threshold for regular business users.

Gartner: 4.2 / 5 out of 89 reviews

G2: 3.4 / 5 out of 6 reviews

TrustRadius: 8.7 / 10 out of 4 reviews

#8. Immuta

Immuta is a data governance tool that provides features for data discovery and data quality management, as well as security and compliance.

The system automatically enforces access control policies on each query and captures detailed audit logs so that security and compliance may be easily maintained.

Immuta automatically monitors and records all actions with your data to ensure data compliance and investigate issues. Data teams have access to all requests, policy modifications, queries, and other information.

Additionally, Immuta provides powerful browsing and classification features, including hierarchies and graphs, to help you track and understand your data assets.

OvelEdge role management dashboard
Immuta data sources page | Source

What’s more, Immuta offers a set of advanced security and compliance features, such as data masking and data encryption.

Gartner: 4 / 5 out of 3 reviews

G2: 4.5 / 5 out of 6 reviews

TrustRadius: Unlisted

#9. IBM InfoSphere Information Governance Catalog

IBM’s InfoSphere Information Governance Catalog (IGC) is a data governance tool that provides comprehensive capabilities for information governance within an organization. IGC’s main features are:

  • Metadata management
  • Business glossary
  • Cataloging
  • Management of access rules

The tool enables you to govern data across different platforms, understand relationships between data assets, and manage access to these assets. IGC provides a strong foundation for your organization’s governance program and helps you ensure compliance with industry regulations.

According to reviews, some users find IGC’s pricing model very inflexible. The graphical user interface is also often criticized.

Gartner: 4 / 5 out of 35 reviews

G2: 4 / 5 out of 19 reviews

TrustRadius: 10 / 10 out of 30 reviews

#10. Google Cloud Data Catalog

Data Catalog is Google’s answer to the competitive market of data governance tools. It’s a fully managed and scalable data discovery tool and metadata management service. It lets you catalog the metadata on data assets from different Google Cloud and third-party sources.

Data governance tools: Google Cloud Catalog
Data Catalog overview | Source

The software provides you with a simple search interface for data discovery and an API for data access and building custom applications.

Data Catalog shares the same Google search technology as Google Drive and Gmail.

With Data Catalog, you can create tag templates that let you label your data with structured tags. With the help of these tags, you can track any important metadata, such as roles responsible for the data asset, data classification, and so on.

Google Cloud Data Catalog Tags
Structured tags in Cloud Catalog | Source

Data Catalog supports integration with both Google Cloud data sources and third-party connectors, such as PostgreSQL, Tableau, Apache Hive, and others via open-source APIs.

Gartner: Unlisted

G2: 4.3 / 5 out of 3 reviews

SaaSworthy: 4 / 5 out of 2 reviews

#11. Atlan

Atlan is a data governance tool that enables collaboration between data teams and business users across the organization.

Data governance tools: Atlan
Atlan data discovery view | Source

The platform provides advanced search functionalities, allowing users to find tables, columns, dashboards, queries, and many other elements from a single tab.

After selecting any data asset, the user gets comprehensive information, including a description, owners of the data asset, assigned data experts, the data asset’s status, classification, and much more.

Another notable Atlan feature is an embedded collaboration on data assets. Users can reach out to each other via Slack and discuss particular data assets right in the Atlan UI.

Gartner: 4.4 / 5 out of 7 reviews

G2: 5 / 5 out of 1 review

TrustRadius: 8.8 / 10 out of 7 reviews

Put your data infrastructure ahead of the competition with Improvado

Implementing a data governance tool is only a single step toward creating a modern data stack and achieving the granularity you require from your insights. Your data assets should go through a process of data transformation, data orchestration, cleansing, and more. Each of these steps requires you to incorporate a separate tool.

However, there’s always room for a better alternative. If you’re working with marketing and sales data, Improvado can help you streamline all of your data activities. Improvado is an ETL platform that transforms raw marketing and sales metrics into actionable insights.

With its help, you can automatically gather data from 300+ sources in a digestible, analysis-ready format. Improvado streamlines purified insights to a data warehouse, which then connects to the data governance tool of your choice.

What’s more, Improvado can streamline your insights to any visualization tool to help you build comprehensive, real-time dashboards of your marketing and sales efforts. With a complete and detailed overview of your performance, you can better invest your marketing dollars and understand the customer journey.

Schedule a call with Improvado’s analytics experts to learn what data bottlenecks are holding you back from growth opportunities.

Learn how Improvado can upgrade your data architecture and improve your data governance processes.
Ali Flynn
VP of Customer Relationship
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