What is Data Curation and Why Is it Important?

data curation

What Is Data Curation

Nowadays, we have access to ample amount of data as the data is present and growing in abundance. But merely having access to this data is not going to help organizations make profits, for that they must make use of this data in such a way that they are able to create value out of this data. Making sense of this data is going to give companies an edge over their competitors when it comes to business.

So, if someone asks what does it mean to curate data? The answer will be, data curation is nothing but to be able to manage the data in such a way that will be of some importance and use to its users who are engaged in data analysis and discovery.

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Data curation is not one thing but an amalgamation of various aspects of data management. Data curation meaning is simply to gather, maintain, and manage data stored in databases or data warehouses in a way that it becomes useful to its end users. Curating research data also becomes easier as data curation helps to retrieve stored data for future use.

Some people confuse data curation vs data transformation. Data transformation helps convert data from one form to another to become easy to work with whereas data curation focuses more on data management. Another important thing to note is that there are specific curated zones in data lake. The data lake curated zone comprises the data which is curated and stored in data models where data from different sources is combined.

Incorrect and inaccurate information, wrong guidelines, and knowledge gaps are some of the risks of insufficient or no data curation. Data curators or gather data from various sources and store it into data repositories that hold great value. Data curation experts comprise subject matter expertise in product services, customer service, financial services, etc. They share their knowledge of the domain with the rest of team in the organization so that the data engineers and analysts working on the data know the nature of that data.

There are a more significant number of collaborative curators than domain curators and they have more responsibility as well. Most of the companies have only a small number of lead data curators whose responsibilities include decreasing data catalog, metadata quality supervision and catalog quality supervision. These are time-consuming task and require commitment. All these data curators, administrators, and subject matter experts are collectively part of the data curation network.

Some of the major examples of data curation services are data profiling, data management, data lineage, data disposal, data assurance, etc.

Data Curation Characteristics

Data curation authenticates, archives, manages the data, and preserves the data so that it can be retrieved later. Some of the major data curation characteristics are:

Identifies signals– Just the way online shopping sites give suggestions to the users based on what they look up online, data curation identifies human behavior and their responses. Data engineers and analysts carve out their own methods in order to interpret and manipulate that data. These human responses and knowledge are provided by data curation, and it holds great value in terms of how people are doing their work. The whole procedure of brainstorming about data and making it open channel for communication revolving the data and all its aspects makes the company more and more literate about data. It provides an edge in finding solutions whenever required.

Robust Data Management for the whole data cycle– Data curation has been defined as an active and agile data management that keeps on going all throughout its life cycle. In this life cycle, conceptualization, creation, accessing, usage, appraising, selection, disposal, ingestion, storage, reusing and transformation of data are some of the data curation steps that are a part of the whole process. In this process, the data could be tagged, annotated, showed and published for different reasons. Data curation is an active data management process that reduces threats of any kind regarding the data and its value.

Supports Data Governance– Data curation inherently supports data governance but the two are not replaceable. Data governance is an implementation of authority and enforcement of rules and regulations when it comes to handling data. Data curation leverages data governance while customizing data but it provides data as that of a typical corporate library. The collection of data hence formed contains more information which is relevant and easy to search for.

Importance of Data Curation

Data curation has been implemented widely in the data industry and serves many purposes for various stakeholders. With increasing functions, its importance is also growing. Let us know why:

Data Curation bridges the gap between different stakeholders in an organization, so they work together seamlessly. Everyone deals with data in their own ways, be it data analysts or scientists. But they all work in their respective teams. In this scenario, data curation bridges the gap between then, so they coordinate and work seamlessly to give outcomes and create value out of their data. If the data is not curated, important processes like accessing, processing and managing data would become impossible. Because of this, data curation is getting more and more importance nowadays.

Data curation helps in organizing data present in the organization. With pace with which data is being generated is astronomical. To organize data in such humongous amounts becomes a tedious task. Data curation makes it easier for data analysts and engineers to organize data as well as to make sense of it. Without data curation, the unstructured and raw data couldn’t have been organized. But one thing to pinpoint is that, it is up to the data curators to make the most of data curation in order to organize the information.

Having access to data used to be an advantage in the earlier times but nowadays, one must differentiate between the useful and useless data and should get rid of the useless data. That’s what gives you an upper hand as an organization. Data engineers and analysts don’t have enough time to perform this tedious task and that’s where data curation comes into the picture. It takes care of the quality of the data and assures data scientists of the data they are using is trustworthy. Hence, there’s an increased demand for capitalizing on data curation which will provide quality control with itself.

Data curation also helps in increasing the value of pre-existing data in the long run by letting the data teams perform robust analysis and research on it. It also helps in improving the effectiveness of Machine Learning. As curation is all about adding human knowledge to existing data automated by the machine. This in turn helps in preparation of AI automated self-service procedures and to set up enterprises to fetch insights.

Another reason why data curation is significant is that it adds value to the lives of its users by educating them. When the curated data is used, users ultimately understand the procedure of how data was collected, stored, managed and curated.

Data sustainability is another important aspect which makes data curation utterly important. Data sustainability is to be able to preserve the existing and upcoming data, which in turn means that sustainability refers to maintaining the reuse of data for research purposes in the future and to avail access to the end users for a longer period.

Advantages of data curation

As curation has become a significant part of big data, business have started to invest in it excessively. The increasing demand to gather data from distinct sources have helped businesses in generating revenues as corporates now look at their data as their biggest asset. They don’t want to gather useless amounts of data rather they desire to create the most value out of their data existing as well as new. They now ant to determine whether the data they possess has some potential value in present or in future. Data curation provides exactly that to the organizations and help them get ahold of the valuable data that can be leveraged to generate revenue and can open new avenues for business.

Challenges in data curation-

Data curation being an essential part of a business, comes with its own challenges such as:

Data Accuracy

It is one of the toughest challenges all throughout the cycle of data. When the major data source is not accurate, the rest of the procedures based on this data will also fail miserably. It will lead to wrong judgments and decisions that can result in a blunder for the business as well as the business owners.

Duplication

When the same datasets are available at different sources, challenges such as duplication occurs. Transformation of data may alter one source leaving the other source and result in incorrect data usage, which can lead to dire consequences.

De-Identification

There is a lot of private information that is available in the data which curators use at a later stage. This information is called PII (Personally Identifiable Information). To segregate and separate this information, businesses either scram the private information by replacing the data with some random gibberish data or get rid of it altogether.

Data security and privacy

As the digital era is on a rise, data privacy has become more significant than ever. With ill practices such as hacking, data leaks, data breach and infringements, business suffer major losses while tackling these issues. Data encryptions in such times become vital and protect the data even if it gets hacked.

Future of Data Curation

Organizations have started realizing that big data is essential for their business. They are well-versed that data processing and harnessing information can improve their productivity and pave the way for new ventures.

In the coming years, enterprises will only compete about how they use their data. Moreover, getting access to information is the easier part of business. As data is being generated and gathered at a faster rate than ever. But to manage and organize this data to create value out of it is the hard part.

As the data will be increasing exponentially, more and more people will be investing in data as well as data curation practices. It will eventually become the differentiating factor between the two organizations. The greater the use of data curation in an organization, the higher the business’s profitability.

Conclusion

This brings us to the end of this blog. In this blog, we discussed about what data curation is and why is there growing importance and demand for it in the new age upcoming businesses. It is a paramount aspect that companies don’t overlook these days. They have actively been investing in best practices to curate data and hire the best data curators who can gather, manage, store and maintain information for them that can prove to a crucial asset for the company.

Data curator job market is an international job market with an increasing requirement of experienced and expert curators who have a good understanding of data storage and should be sound with the tools required to process the data. Needless to say, whether you are a small business or a big corporate, by leveraging the power of data curation, you can take your business to greater heights and achieve all your business goals.

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WRITTEN BY

Himanshu Mishra

Technology Head
Himanshu is an entrepreneur with 17+ years of overall experience in strategic and advisory roles in Senior Management, IT program management, Quality Assurance, and ERP implementations. He has invested in companies focused on Digital Technologies and Healthcare industries. He has previously worked in domains like: Technology, Finance, Marketing… Read more

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