You are here

Glossary of Data-Related Terms

Common Terms Used to Discuss, Describe, Define and Manage Data


Enterprise Data Management is a relatively new endeavor within government institutions. As such, it is important when talking about data management to understand the context for the commonly used terms and eliminate whenever possible any ambiguity that could arise within day-to-day communications. This glossary of terms is designed to provide a foundational vocabulary for anyone new to the discipline of data management. While it is not exhaustive of all terms used in this context, it does include those terms that are used most, and perhaps understood least.

Glossary of Terms

Business Intelligence

Term Definition

Access Management

The process of identifying, tracking, controlling and managing authorized or specified users’ access to a system application, or any IT instance. Techopedia IT Dictionary

Audit Trail

In computing, an electronic or paper log used to track computer activity. TechTarget

Big Data

The growth in the volume of structured and unstructured data, the speed at which it is created and collected, and the scope of how many data points are covered. Big data often comes from multiple sources, and arrives in multiple formats.

Business Intelligence

The applications, infrastructure and tools, and best practices that enable access to and analysis of information to improve and optimize decisions and performance.
Gartner IT Glossary

Change Control

A formal process used to ensure that a process, product, service or technology component is modified only in accordance with agreed-upon rules.


The compilation or assembly of data that relates to a particular subject or area.

Collection Item

An entity like a report, database table, screen display, etc., that when grouped together forms a data collection.

Content Management

The process for collection, delivery, retrieval, governance and overall management of information in any format.


An acronym which stands for Create, Read, Update, Delete; the four basic functions of persistent storage. The CRUD functions are the user interfaces to databases, as they permit users to create, view, modify and alter data. Techopedia IT Dictionary

Data Analytics

The science of examining raw data with the purpose of drawing conclusions about that information.

Data Architecture

A set of rules, policies, standards and models that govern and define the type of data collected and how it is used, stored, managed and integrated within an organization and its database systems.
Techopedia IT Dictionary

Data Breach

An incident that involves the unauthorized or illegal viewing, access or retrieval of data by an individual, application or service.
Techopedia IT Dictionary

Data Classification

The process of sorting and categorizing data into various types, forms or any other distinct class. This process is often used to sort data for security reasons by classifying data into restricted, public or private data types. Techopedia IT Dictionary

Data Custodian

An IT professional working with data systems to ensure data is stored, transported and accessed appropriately.
Techopedia IT Dictionary

Data Element

The smallest named item of data that conveys meaningful information or condenses lengthy description into a short code. (business

Data Flow

The movement of data through a system comprised of software, hardware or a combination of both.
Techopedia IT Dictionary

Data Governance

The exercise of authority, control and shared decision making over the management of data assets.


Data Governance Office

A centralized organizational entity responsible for facilitating, coordinating and supporting Data Governance and/or stewardship efforts for an organization.
Techopedia IT Dictionary

Data Integration

The process of retrieving data from multiple source systems and combining it in such a way that it can yield consistent, comprehensive, current and correct information for business reporting and analysis. The source systems may be various types of devices and the data may be in a variety of formats. TechTarget

Data Modeling

A representation of the data structures in a table for an organization’s database and is a very powerful expression of the organization’s business requirements. The data model is the guide used by functional and technical analysts in the design and implementation of a database.
Techopedia IT Dictionary

Data Ownership

Data ownership is the process of assigning formal accountability over a single piece of data or set of data elements with the purpose of ensuring complete control over the data. Data ownership defines and provides information about the rightful owner of data assets, which is the individual or team that implements data acquisition, use and distribution policies for the data for which they are accountable.

Data Privacy

The aspect of information technology that deals with the ability an organization or individual has to determine what data in a computer system can be shared with third parties.

Data Quality

An intricate way of measuring data properties from different perspectives, It is a comprehensive examination of the application efficiency, reliability and fitness of data, especially data residing in a data warehouse.
Techopedia IT Dictionary

Data Security

Protective digital privacy measures that are applied to prevent unauthorized access to computers, databases and websites. Data security also protects data from corruption.
Techopedia IT Dictionary

Data Stakeholders

Individuals who could affect or be affected by organizational data. Data stakeholders include groups who create data, those who use data, and those who set rules and requirements for data.
Data Governance Glossary

Data Standard

Documented agreement on the format and definition of common data. Established consistent specifications for data elements, such as name of the data standard, definition, field length and other components.

Data Steward

Data stewards authorize and monitor the secure use of data within their functional areas to ensure appropriate access, accuracy, classification, privacy and security.
DAMA DMBOK, Techopedia IT Dictionary

Data Stewardship

The formalization of accountability over the management of data and data-related assets.


Data Visualization

The process of displaying data and/or information in graphical charts, figures and bars. It is used as a means to deliver visual reporting to users for the performance, operations or general statistics of an application, network, hardware, or virtually any IT asset.
Techopedia IT Dictionary

Data Warehouse

A technology that aggregates structured data from one or more sources so that it can be compared and analyzed for greater business intelligence. Informatica Glossary of Terms


A collection of information that is organized so that it can be easily accessed, managed and updated.

Decision Rights

The system of determining who makes a decision, and when, and using what process.
Data Governance Glossary

Descriptive Analytics

A preliminary stage of data processing that creates a summary of historical data to yield useful information and possibly prepare the data for further analysis.

Diagnostic Analytics

A form of advanced analytics which examines data or content to answer the question “Why did it happen?”, and is characterized by techniques such as drill-down, data discovery, data mining and correlations.
Gartner IT Glossary

Electronic Information System

The combination of hardware and software used to manage electronic information (data). It makes stored data from internal and external sources more accessible, and facilitates better decision making. The data is retained in a database.

Enterprise Architecture

A discipline for proactively and holistically leading enterprise responses to disruptive forces by identifying and analyzing the execution of change toward desired business vision and outcomes.
Gartner IT Glossary

Historical Data

Collected data about past events and circumstances pertaining to a particular subject.


The result of applying data processing to data, giving it context and meaning. Information can then be further processed to yield knowledge.

IT Infrastructure Library

A series of publications providing best practice guidance for IT service management.
Data Governance Glossary

IT Service Management

The process of aligning enterprise IT services with business and a primary focus on the delivery of best services to end user. 
Techopedia IT Dictionary

Master Data

The core data that is essential to operations in a specific business or business unit. Master data are data units that are non-transactional, top level and relational business entities or elements that are joinable in observable ways.
TechTarget; Techopedia IT Dictionary


Structured information that describes, explains, locates or otherwise makes it easier to retrieve, use or manage an information resource. It is data that provides information about data.

Personally identifiable information

Information that, when used alone or with other relevant data, can identify an individual. PII may contain direct identifiers that can identify a person uniquely, or quasi-identifiers that can be combined with other quasi-identifiers to successfully recognize an individual.

Predictive Analytics

Describes a range of analytical and statistical techniques used for developing models that may be used to predict future events or behaviors. There are different forms of predictive models, which vary based on the event or behavior that is being predicted.
Techopedia IT Dictionary

Prescriptive Analytics

Refers to analytics that seek to provide optimal recommendations during a decision-making process. Determines ways in which business processes should evolve or be modified.
Techopedia IT Dictionary

Records Management

The supervision and administration of digital or paper records, regardless of format. Activities include the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposal of records.

Reference Data

The data objects relevant to transactions, consisting of sets of values, statuses or classification schema.

Relational Database

A collection of data items organized as a set of formally described tables from which data can be accessed or reassembled in many different ways without having to reorganize the database tables.

Relational Database Management System

A program that lets you create, update and administer a relational database.

Risk Management

The identification, analysis, assessment, control, and avoidance, minimization or elimination of unacceptable risks.

Sensitive Data

Data that is private, personal or proprietary and must be protected from unauthorized access.

Structured Data

Data that has been organized into a formatted repository, typically a database, so that its elements can be made addressable for more effective processing and analysis.

Transactional Data

The information recorded from transactions. A transaction is a sequence of information exchange and related work (such as database updating) that is treated as a unit for the purposes of satisfying a request.

Unstructured Data

Information, in many different forms, that doesn’t hew to conventional data models and thus typically isn’t a good fit for a mainstream relational database.


The movement of data, documents or tasks through a work process; generally used in the context of technologies that automate workflows.
Data Governance Glossary


BusinessDictionary - Accessed 19 March 2018.
Data Governance Glossary -  Accessed 19 March 2018. - Accessed 19 March 2018.
Gartner IT Glossary - Accessed 19 March 2018.
Informatica Glossary of Terms - Accessed 19 March 2018.
Investopedia Dictionary - Accessed 19 March 2018.
Mosley, Mark, et al. The DAMA Guide to the Data Management Body of Knowledge: (DAMA-DMBOKGuide). Technics Publications, 2010.
Techopedia IT Dictionary - Accessed 19 March 2018.
TechTarget - Accessed 19 March 2018.