A data inventory is a comprehensive list of all the data assets that an organization has and where they are located. It helps organizations understand and track:
- the types of data they collect, store, and process;
- the sources, purposes, and recipients of that data.
Data inventories can be managed manually or automatically. The reasons for maintaining a data inventory vary – and could include data governance, data management, data protection, data security, and data compliance.
For example, having a data inventory can help organizations identify and classify sensitive data, assess the risks associated with different types of data, and implement appropriate controls to protect that data. It can also help organizations understand which data they have available in order to support business objectives, or to generate specific types of analytics reports.