By Tehreem Naeem, Technical Content Strategist
Around 70% of CFOs believe that their employees need to be more efficient at leveraging operational data to extract business insights. Many businesses face data-related problems like consolidating data from disparate sources, lack of teamwork between departments, poor data quality, and inadequate data accessibility that can delay results.
To get value out of your data and reach accurate results, you need to ensure that all decision-makers have timely access to the same data. And that’s only possible if consolidated data is present in a unified repository. This single source of truth provides stakeholders with a clear picture of the enterprise assets and the potential complications that can disrupt the data strategy.
Continue reading this article to understand what exactly is a single source of truth and how can you implement it in your enterprise ecosystem.
What Is A Single Source of Truth?
A single source of truth guarantees that every business personnel can access the relevant data from a centralized location, when required. This data can be related to customers, products, employees, or some other business asset.
Data-driven businesses place huge importance on gathering and analyzing data. However, when data resides in disparate source systems, it becomes difficult to decide which data points should be given weightage. For example, key performance indicators (KPIs) from social media may present your target demographics in a different light, whereas vendor feedback or online surveys may indicate something poles apart. In such a scenario, how can business leaders decide which data to use for decision-making?
That’s where creating a single source of truth can help. Rather than evaluating many contrasting data sources for making corporate decisions, people across all departments can use the same, integrated.
A robust data infrastructure that runs on a single source of truth can:
- Remove duplicate data entries
- Enable fast access to data for timely decision-making
- Significantly decrease the time spent on recognizing which logged data is accurate
- Iteratively enhance the business intelligence of the enterprise
Using a single source of truth, businesses can reach faster time-to-insights.
Overcoming Challenges in Implementing the Process
The following are some of the obstacles you may encounter when implementing a single source of truth is:
Getting Participant Buy-In
The first step to achieve buy-in is to collaborate with business leaders in deciding which data source is the best to use. This could be time-consuming but you can reach a consensus after discussions.
Collect Relevant Data
Data is often siloed in different systems, managed by different teams. Like missing pieces of a puzzle, it’s quite challenging to create a single source of truth from siloed data.
To get high-quality data, you can:
- Exclude irrelevant data
- Allow only data extracted from the official business applications to be utilized in analytics
- Filter and store all data in one platform that’s available to everybody across the enterprise
You have to be able to understand what the data is telling you instead of just looking at it. There’s a fine line between what your data is and what it articulates. For instance, in analytics, a high bounce rate could either be due to an unresponsive website or disengaging messaging, leading consumers to abandon the site.
Employees with data access must examine it to see beyond apparent trends and statistical points. When you allow decision-makers to gather, manage, and scrutinize data across all of your operational areas, they can separate background noise from actual problems, and proactively fix them before they impact the business.
Implementing A Single Source of Truth
For a company to attain a single source of truth, they need to bring together data from disparate enterprise systems into a single repository. This is accomplished by using a data integration software that automates the process of data collection and loads the integrated data in a centralized system. This data is further used by BI or visualizations apps for reporting and decision-making.
How To Create A Single Source Of Truth
Want to implement a single source of truth in your business? Follow these steps:
1. Identify Source Systems
The initial step is to identify all source systems present in the enterprise ecosystem. In addition, you also need to determine the volume and frequency of data transfer, as the data integration solution you select will have to support those requirements.
2. Select an Integration Tool
The next step is to choose a data integration tool that is easy to use, scalable, flexible, and falls within your budget. Plus, it should support connectivity to your enterprise systems using built-in connectors. As data integration is generally not a one-time job, it’s best to go for a tool that supports workflow automation.
3. Clean the Data
Ensure the quality of data by removing redundancies, inaccuracies, and duplications. Many integration tools come with built-in data quality module or cleansing transformations that can remove errors before loading data into the destination system. This is very useful as the results based on data are only as reliable as the source data itself.
4. Create A ‘Master’ Record
Create a master record or a single source of truth that acts as a hub for your company’s master data, making it visible and available via a single reference point.
5. Create Accountability
Make sure that everybody is responsible for maintaining clear benchmarks regarding which datasets are suitable to be used in dashboards or analytics tools.
6. Design Around Compliance
Data can put your business at huge risks, so make sure that robust compliance and security procedures are followed when creating a single source of truth. Over the years, there have been radical changes in the compliance and regulatory space. Using a data integration tool ensures that you quickly adapt to these changes, which is otherwise not possible manually.
Once you implement a single source of truth across your entire organization, you will be at peace knowing that business decisions are being made based on the best available data. Moreover, you will be drastically decreasing the burden on your IT teams to wrangle data for corporate decisions they don’t understand.
The data integration tool you choose must be adaptable enough to offer the flexibility of incrementally constructing the solution as circumstances demand, allowing for recurrent changes and providing for future additions.
Bio: Tehreem Naeem is a technical content strategist at Astera, a data integration solution provider, where she creates product-focused content. She holds an electronics engineering degree from a reputable institution and has 7+ years of experience in the field.