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Organizations struggle with data sprawl, which limits timely, accurate decision-making. Only 4% of organizations have real-time insights into their data, according to a recent survey conducted by TechTarget's Enterprise Strategy Group.
A single source of truth (SSOT) is a fundamental concept in data management that refers to a single, authoritative, definitive data source for a particular piece of information. This means there should be only one place where a specific data item is stored, updated and maintained. Not having SSOT on data limits the ability to prepare and use the data to meet business goals and enhance the organization.
The purpose of an SSOT is to ensure that all stakeholders in a system have access to consistent, accurate and up-to-date information. This helps reduce errors, inconsistencies and misunderstandings that can arise when multiple versions of the same data exist.
Examples of SSOT in data management include a centralized database, a master data management system or a data warehouse. These systems are designed to be the authoritative source for specific types of information, such as customer, product or financial data.
Adopting an SSOT approach in data management can bring many benefits, including the following:
- Improved data accuracy. Having a single, authoritative source of information reduces errors and inconsistencies in data.
- Better data integration. An SSOT approach makes integrating data from different systems and sources easier.
- Enhanced data security. By having a centralized data repository, it's easier to apply security controls and enforce data access policies.
- Increased efficiency. With a single source of information, organizations can avoid duplicating efforts to maintain data, saving time and resources.
In practice, achieving an SSOT is not always straightforward and may require significant effort and resources. Some of the challenges that organizations face when trying to implement an SSOT include the following:
- Data quality. Ensuring that the data in the SSOT is accurate and of high quality can be a significant challenge, mainly if the data is sourced from multiple systems and applications.
- Data integration. Integrating data from different systems and sources into a single repository can be complex, especially if the data is stored in other formats or structures.
- Data governance. Establishing and enforcing policies and procedures for maintaining and updating the SSOT requires effective data governance. This can be challenging, particularly in organizations with decentralized data management practices.
- Resistance to change. Adopting an SSOT approach often requires changes to existing processes and systems, which can be met with resistance from stakeholders who are used to working with their own sources of information.
Despite these challenges, many organizations have successfully adopted an SSOT approach. They have seen significant benefits, including improved data accuracy, better data integration, increased efficiency and faster, accurate decision-making abilities. Organizations should approach SSOT as a strategic initiative to succeed and invest in the necessary resources: technology, processes and people. Many organizations have begun implementing DataOps methodology to manage data from collection, storage, preparation and analytic functions for delivery to business and consumer decision-makers as quickly as possible.
I believe that a single truth source is a critical component of effective data management and can significantly benefit organizations. Organizations need to trust in the data they use, especially when it comes to business decision-making. This can be as simple as precise sales pipelines to detailed financial data, inventories, supply chain workflows, etc. However, implementing an SSOT requires a strategic approach and the right resources, including technology, processes and people. Azure, Google Cloud and AWS all offer solutions with an ecosystem of partners to provide the technology that best fits your organization.
An ESG survey shows 88% of organizations view the cloud as a big part of their data strategy. It is essential to ensure that organizations have accurate, consistent and up-to-date information to support their operations when using machine learning processes for faster, knowledge-driven decision-making.