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Data Discovery Dynamics : Use-Cases and Top Tools for 2024

Chandan Gaur | 14 Feb 2024

Data Discovery Dynamics : Use-Cases and Top Tools

What Is Data Discovery?

Data discovery is a user-centric data science process designed to visually navigate and analyze data, employing advanced analytics to identify patterns, gain insights, address specific business queries, and extract value from organizational data. This approach allows businesses to step back from individual data points, amalgamate information from diverse sources, including external data, to comprehend the holistic view. Like a golfer assessing the terrain before a putt, data discovery facilitates informed decision-making and strategic planning. Notably, it doesn't necessitate users to construct complex models, often integrated into business intelligence (BI) software, presenting a comprehensive organizational overview through intuitive dashboards or visuals. This empowers users to explore data for patterns and outliers, contributing to a deeper understanding of the data landscape. 

What is the significance of data discovery?

In the contemporary business landscape, where data proliferation is ubiquitous, data discovery emerges as an indispensable tool. Businesses today encounter an unprecedented influx of data from various sources, ranging from third-party analytics to internal reports. However, the value of data lies not in mere possession but in the intelligent extraction of hidden patterns and trends. Like how individual ingredients don't make pancakes until mixed and cooked, siloed data sources lack meaningful insights without undergoing the data discovery process. 

Data discovery is pivotal in transforming raw data into actionable intelligence, making businesses smarter, more agile, and cost-effective. In a competitive environment, these insights are crucial, offering benefits such as significant cost savings, reduced overheads, increased revenue, identification of new markets, and more. 

Moreover, data discovery equips businesses with tools to understand, monitor, and manage their data comprehensively. It enhances the understanding of data ownership, storage, access, and transmission, ensuring continuous monitoring of data activities. This process also contributes to risk management, regulatory compliance, full data visibility, context-based data classification, identification of sensitive data, and the ability to clean and reuse data, ultimately enabling scalable data utilization across the different business processes.  

How does Data Discovery work?

Three fundamental principles govern the process. The three fundamental components are data preparation, data visualization, and guided advanced analytics. A brief review of the fundamental data discovery principles will aid in understanding how it works.

1. Iterative Nature of Data Discovery 

Data discovery is an iterative process, requiring businesses to continuously repeat the steps to gather, analyze, and distill results over time. This iterative approach ensures ongoing refinement and accuracy of insights. 

2. Role of Data Product Manager 

The emergence of the Data Product Manager role is integral to the data discovery process, emphasizing the ownership of data. A clear tracking plan/catalog is essential for effective data discovery, aligning with the responsibilities of a Data Product Manager.

3. Purpose-Driven Approach 

The first step in data discovery is to clearly define the purpose, aligning with business goals and industry needs. This purpose guides the entire process, helping businesses identify relevant data sources and streamline their approach for more meaningful insights.

The Stages of Data Discovery


Data discovery involves a structured process with six key steps:  

1. Ask Right Questions 
Business Analyst work with SME to gain Domain Understanding and Then Ask Questions from Data and Define the Problem. 
2. Acquire Data 
Once Business Analysts understands different datasets, Then Business Analyst works on collecting data from various Data Sources with the help of Data Engineering Team. 
3. Data Curation 
Business Analysts defined the Data Cleaning Rules and Data Engineering loads the Data in Data Lakehouse so that Business Analysts can start analyzing the cleaner data. 
4. Visualize & Analyse 
Business Analyst connect their Data Visualization Tools to visualize different Datasets & identify different patterns, trends and correlation between different Data Sets . 
5. Publish Results  
Once Business Analyst finish their Analysis , then They publish their Analysis Report and share with all Stakeholders. 
6. Identify Actions 
After going through the Report , Stakeholders decide next Actions to improve their Business Processes and Customer Experience.  

What are the Top Use Cases of Data Discovery?

top use-cases-of-data-discovery

The best use cases are listed below:

1. Data Consolidation 

Locates and classifies all Personally Identifiable Information (PII) across repositories and file shares, applying business context without manual intervention which helps in facilitating efficient M&A activities or data minimization initiatives by automatically identifying sensitive data repositories, minimizing data footprint, and consolidating disparate datasets for seamless analytics and comprehensive data lineage reporting. 

2. Holistic Data Discovery 

Discover and automatically classify all PII data, including structured, semi-structured, and unstructured formats which accelerates the identification and tagging of PII data across diverse formats, ensuring an intelligent discovery engine locates and tags data in minutes rather than weeks or months.

3. Fraud Prevention

Utilizing advanced analytics to identify and prevent fraudulent activities across multiple sectors which employs algorithms to analyze vast datasets for patterns indicative of fraudulent behavior, enabling preemptive action to mitigate financial or reputational damage across industries.

4. Compliance Monitoring

Regulatory bodies, such as FINRA, require companies to adhere to specific compliance standards, especially concerning employees handling confidential customer data which helps in detecting potential violations or misuse of customer information through continuous monitoring, ensuring adherence to regulations and mitigating risks of fines or loss of business.

5. Insider Threat Detection

Network-based approach to discovery and mapping of "unknown unknown" sensitive data sets which enables fully autonomous data discovery without targeted scans, providing comprehensive visibility into sensitive data without limitations.

6. Third-Party Risk

Identify vendor exposure and unapproved sharing of sensitive data with third parties which monitors shared data with third-party vendors in real time, automatically detecting and notifying when sensitive data is shared, ensuring compliance with data policy rules.

7. Interactive Data Discovery for Customer Churn in Marketing

Utilizing interactive data discovery tools to delve into vast amounts of historical data across any industry, identifying key trends, relationships, and factors that drive business outcomes which facilitates a deeper understanding of data-driven insights, enabling businesses to make informed decisions swiftly. When combined with predictive analytics, it supports proactive strategies for improving customer engagement, operational efficiency, or product development.

8. Better Customer Modeling Reduces Risk in Financial Services

Risk analysts use data discovery to understand customers and predict mortgage defaults which provides precise insights by analyzing data from multiple sources, allowing for more complete customer profiles and accurate risk assessment. Adheres to data governance policies to ensure reliability and protect personally identifiable information.

9. Self-Service Analytics in Engineering for Proactive Maintenance

Leveraging self-service analytics platforms for predictive maintenance and operational efficiency across various sectors like manufacturing, utilities, and transport which empowers professionals to autonomously analyze and interpret operational data, identify potential issues before they escalate, and optimize processes for efficiency. Facilitates the creation of predictive models for maintenance, reducing downtime and extending asset lifespan. Enhances scalability and rapid response capabilities, crucial for maintaining high operational standards. 

Why is data discovery creating so much buzz?  

Data discovery is creating significant buzz due to several compelling reasons: 

1. Unprecedented Data Growth 

The modern business landscape is witnessing an unprecedented growth in data creation, acquisition, and utilization. The sheer volume and variety of data sources, including third-party analytics, internal reports, and global trends, have fueled the need for effective data discovery. 

2. Informed Decision-Making 

Data discovery empowers organizations to move beyond merely possessing data to intelligently extracting patterns, themes, and trends within it. This process enables businesses to make informed, data-driven decisions, leading to enhanced operational efficiency and strategic planning. 

3. Iterative and Agile Approach 

The iterative nature of data discovery allows businesses to continuously refine and improve their insights over time. This agile approach ensures that organizations can adapt to evolving data landscapes and extract maximum value from their data assets. 

4. Business Intelligence Integration 

Integration with Business Intelligence (BI) software enhances the accessibility of data discovery tools. The seamless incorporation of data discovery into BI platforms provides users with intuitive dashboards, fostering broader utilization across different functions within an organization. 

5. Role in Digital Transformation 

Data discovery plays a pivotal role in digital transformation initiatives. As businesses strive to become more data-centric, the ability to uncover hidden insights becomes crucial for gaining a competitive edge, reducing costs, and identifying new market opportunities. 

6. Importance of Data Ownership 

The emergence of roles like Data Product Manager highlights the importance of data ownership in the data discovery process. Clear tracking plans and catalogs are essential for successful data discovery, contributing to the rising significance of these roles in organizations. 

7. Holistic Understanding of Data 

Businesses recognize the need for a holistic understanding of their data landscape, encompassing aspects such as data storage, access, transmission, and continuous monitoring. Data discovery provides the tools and knowledge to achieve this comprehensive understanding.

8. Benefits Across Multiple Business Processes

The benefits of data discovery extend across various business functions, including risk management, regulatory compliance, data visibility, classification, and the identification and tracking of sensitive data. This broad impact contributes to the widespread adoption and excitement surrounding data discovery initiatives. 

In summary, the buzz around data discovery stems from its ability to address contemporary challenges in handling vast and diverse datasets, facilitating better decision-making, and supporting organizations in their journey towards digital transformation. 

Leveraging Generative AI for Data Discovery 

The advent of Generative AI is reshaping the landscape of data discovery, providing businesses with the tools to navigate the vast seas of data more efficiently and uncover insights that were previously beyond reach. This transformative technology is not just enhancing data analysis capabilities but is revolutionizing the way enterprises leverage data for decision-making, innovation, and strategic advantage. 

Gen AI Transforming Enterprise Data Analytics 

Generative AI, with its capability to generate, simulate, and predict data, is radically changing enterprise data analytics. Platforms like SparkBeyond's Discovery leverage Generative AI to automate the generation and testing of hypotheses at an unprecedented scale, bypassing human cognitive limits and biases. This not only accelerates the process of data exploration but also opens new avenues for discovering nuanced insights and relationships within data. 

Gen AI Enhancing Data Management Across the Board 

Generative AI's impact extends across all facets of data management, from integration and transformation to discovery and quality assurance. It aids in inferring data schemas, parsing unstructured data, and automating data cleansing and transformation processes. Moreover, it enhances data discovery through advanced profiling, clustering, and visualization techniques, making it easier for businesses to identify patterns, trends, and outliers. 

introduction-icon  Gen AI powered Data Discovery using Dremio


Dremio has taken a significant leap forward in the realm of data analytics with its introduction of Generative AI-powered data discovery features, announced at AWS re:Invent. This innovative approach not only accelerates the process of data contextualization and description for analytics but also simplifies it, marking a notable advancement in how data is handled and analyzed. 

Key Features and Capabilities: 

  • AI-Powered Data Discovery: Dremio now incorporates AI to streamline the discovery, contextualization, and description of data, making it significantly easier for users to navigate and understand their datasets. 
  • GenAI-Powered Documentation and Labeling: Expanding on its text-to-SQL capabilities, Dremio introduces features that automate data documentation and labeling. This not only provides comprehensive business context for analytics but also significantly reduces the manual labor involved in these processes. 
  • Enhanced Analytics Engine for Apache Iceberg: Alongside its GenAI capabilities, Dremio continues to improve its performance as an analytics engine, offering superior functionality for Apache Iceberg, further solidifying its position as a leader in the analytics space. 

What is Governed Data Discovery? 

Governed Data Discovery refers to a structured and controlled approach to exploring and analyzing data within an organization. It combines the flexibility of self-service analytics with established governance policies and controls. In this framework, users are empowered to discover insights independently, but within predefined boundaries set by data governance rules. Governed Data Discovery ensures compliance with regulatory requirements, maintains data integrity, and establishes clear guidelines for data access and usage. This approach strikes a balance between fostering data exploration and mitigating risks associated with unauthorized or unregulated data practices, promoting responsible and secure data-driven decision-making within the organization. 

What are the best data discovery tools for 2024?

data-discovery-toolsAn increasing number of data discovery tools are available, generally included as part of a business intelligence solution, and cover at least one of the three main data discovery categories: data preparation, visual analysis, and guided advanced analytics. 

1. JMP Statistical Discovery: 

  • Empowers organizations to simplify data analysis and decision-making. 
  • Notable for its ad hoc analysis capabilities and user-driven customization of dashboards. 

2. Looker: 

  • A Business Intelligence (BI) platform that transforms raw data into dashboards, reports, and graphs. 
  • Offers holistic views of corporate performance with configurable access to key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics. 

3. Microsoft Power BI: 

  • Comprehensive suite for BI, reporting, and data visualization. 

  • Includes Power BI Service, Power BI Desktop, Power BI Pro, Power BI Premium, Power BI Embedded, Power Bi Mobile, and Power BI Report Server. 

4. Phocas: 

  • Business intelligence software facilitates data aggregation and transformation. 

  • Simplifies data management with powerful analytics and visualization tools. 

5. Qlik Sense: 

  • Enterprise-grade analytical solution for data discovery, visualization, and predictive analytics. 

  • Provides interactive analytical apps and customizable visualizations. 


  • Specializes in discovering and classifying sensitive data across various formats. 

  • Aids in network-based discovery of "unknown unknowns" sensitive data sets. 

7. Tableau: 

  • Leading BI solution offering data discovery, analysis, and visualization tools. 

  • Enables users to create interactive dashboards for comprehensive data exploration. 

8. TIBCO Spotfire: 

  • Enterprise-grade analytical solution with data discovery, visualization, and predictive analytics. 

  • Accelerates data analysis, providing AI-driven insights for informed decision-making. 

9. Atlan: 

  • Facilitates data discovery and collaboration for teams. 

  • Focuses on simplifying data workflows and ensuring data accessibility. 

10. Domo: 

  • BI software-as-a-service platform for aggregating and transforming raw data into dashboards. 

  • Offers configurable access to a variety of KPIs and metrics for real-time data insights. 

Each tool brings unique features and capabilities, catering to diverse business intelligence needs. 

What are the Attributes of Data Discovery Tools? 

1. User-Friendly Interface

Modern data discovery tools should prioritize a user-friendly interface, moving beyond the realm of professional analysts or IT experts. Democratization of data allows individuals across various roles to leverage information and tools effectively. 

2. Efficiency and Speed

In a competitive landscape, the efficiency of data discovery tools is crucial. The chosen tools must operate swiftly, ensuring that businesses can gain a competitive edge in a fast-paced industry. 

3. Handling Large Data Sets

As data volumes continue to grow, the ability of a tool to efficiently work with large amounts of data is paramount. Look for tools that facilitate data integration from diverse sources, accommodating varying data sizes seamlessly. 

4. Interactive Visualizations

A robust data discovery tool should provide powerful and interactive data visualizations. This includes a dashboard creator with a variety of predefined templates, fostering a comprehensive understanding of key metrics at a glance. 

5. Advanced Graph Options 

Beyond basic visualizations, effective software must offer advanced chart options for in-depth analysis. Features like combining multiple chart types, creating secondary axes, utilizing trend indicators, conditional formatting, and enabling comparison periods enhance analytical capabilities. 

6. Custom Fields Functionality

Professional data discovery tools should incorporate custom fields, allowing users to add calculated fields and merge multiple category aspects. This feature, often implemented through drag-and-drop functions, enhances the flexibility and depth of data analysis. 

7. Ease of Sharing

Collaboration is a cornerstone of effective data management. An ideal data discovery tool facilitates easy sharing, enabling stakeholders across departments to comprehend data patterns. The tool should provide different access levels based on roles and data requirements, promoting seamless collaboration. 

How to Get Started With Data Discovery? 

Embarking on a successful data discovery journey involves a strategic and iterative process. Begin by clearly defining objectives and identifying relevant data sources. Prioritize data quality through cleaning and preparation, ensuring accuracy and consistency. Harness the power of data visualization for initial insights and progress to advanced analytics for deeper exploration. Foster collaboration and sharing within the team, treating data discovery as an ongoing, learning-oriented endeavor. 

The iterative nature of data discovery emphasizes continuous refinement based on initial findings and user feedback. Documentation plays a crucial role in maintaining a record of the process for future reference and improved repeatability. Prioritize training and skill development to empower the team with the necessary tools and techniques. Implement governance and security measures to ensure data confidentiality and compliance. 

As the organization gains experience, explore opportunities for automation and optimization, scaling the data discovery process. Regularly evaluate the impact of data discovery on decision-making through key performance indicators. Ultimately, a well-executed data discovery strategy transforms raw data into actionable insights, empowering organizations to make informed decisions and derive meaningful value from their data assets. 

How to Perform Smart Data Discovery? 

Different ways for performing Smart Data discovery are mentioned below: 

1. Define your business goals

The first step in performing intelligent data discovery is defining your business goals to ensure that your process. Smart Data discoveries is focused on accurate information. You can start a conversation with your key stakeholders and team members to define the primary strategic goals for the business and the metrics you will need to track the progress and measure the success. 

2. Determine your problem areas

After defining your goals, it's time to recognize your problem areas or the roadblocks keeping you from becoming a more competent, intelligent business entity. While every organization is unique, and one size does not fit all, several problem areas frequently cross over from one to the next. 

3. Combine various data sources to gain a deeper insight

Collecting data from various sources allows you to gain insights to propel your business forward. Data comes from various structured and unstructured sources. Integrating your data with the data of others will provide you with a greater understanding of what you need to do to accomplish your goals. 

4. Clean the data extracted

Before visualizing your data, please clean it up and extract insights from it. It will also make it easier for BI reporting tools to interact with your data and perform intelligent data discovery. The ultimate goal of the data cleaning stage is to avoid the risks of working with inaccurate data, which can harm your business. 

5. Choose the right data discovery tool

What precisely is an intelligent data discovery model? Fundamentally, this type of model is a strategic approach to data use. Entity-relationship diagrams, data mapping specifications, data matrices, and data flow diagrams are examples of discovery models in terms of approach. Selecting the perfect report tools to do the job is also an important consideration. 

6. Automate the process

With such a large amount of data, preparing it can be time-consuming. As a result, BI solutions with automation technologies offer the benefits of more advanced data classification methods such as catalog-based search or patterns search. Another significant advantage of data discovery automation is real-time decision-making. 

7. Make the data available

When we speak of ease of access, we mean using user-friendly tools that anyone in the organization can use without any tech expertise. The marketing team, for example, should be able to easily access IT metrics to support their e-commerce strategies. You will lay the foundation for the much-desired data-driven culture and empower everyone else in your organization to play an active role. 

How does Data Discovery Give Security? 

Data discovery enhances security by providing comprehensive visibility into sensitive information, ensuring swift identification and classification of data. Through tools like Spirion and Datapine, organizations can locate, tag, and monitor personal or confidential data, reducing the risk of unauthorized access or data breaches. Governing data discovery with solutions such as Dundas BI and Logikcull ensures adherence to compliance standards, protecting against regulatory violations. The ability to discover unknown data sets with solutions like Tibco Spotfire further fortifies security measures, enabling proactive risk management. In essence, data discovery acts as a powerful safeguard, enabling organizations to proactively manage and protect their valuable data assets. 


Data discovery is not a tool. It is a business user-oriented process that evaluates and collects data from different sources and is often used to understand patterns in the data. 

A data discovery platform is a set of tools that provides automated features and real-time data access, detects patterns, and those outlier results outside of patterns, in data. Organizations worldwide are digitizing more aspects of operations as consumers increasingly use digital platforms to research, engage with, and purchase the goods and services they require. In today's increasingly data-rich business environment, data discovery fills the gap between companies' priorities and customers' needs. It makes organizations more conscious of how they conduct business while ensuring consumer data is put to much better use — leading to an improved overall experience for all.