Single Source of Truth – What it is and Why You Want it Yesterday

Almost 70% of CFOs agree that their teams need to more effectively leverage operational data to extract business insights. Far too many companies struggle with data-related issues such as organizing multiple sources of data, a lack of collaboration between teams, low data accuracy, and poor data accessibility.

A critical thing thing that all companies need to do in order to get value out of their data is to ensure that all stakeholders are actually using the same data to make decisions; they need to make sure they are working from a single source of truth. This will provide decision-makers with a clearer picture of the data they have and the obstacles that stand in the way of an optimized data strategy. Then, they can choose tools and services, including cloud solutions, that are designed to help streamline business data strategies — and a true SSOT implementation process can begin.

What is a single source of truth (SSOT)?

Single source of truth (SSOT) is a concept used to ensure that everyone in an organization bases business decisions on the same data. Creating a single source of truth is straightforward. To put an SSOT in place, an organization must provide relevant personnel with one source that stores the data points they need.

Data-driven decision making has placed never-before-seen levels of importance on collecting and analyzing data. While acting on data-derived business intelligence is essential for competitive brands today, companies often spend far too much time debating which numbers, invariably from different sources, are the right numbers to use. Metrics from social platforms may paint one picture of a company’s target demographics while vendor feedback or online questionnaires may say something entirely different. How are corporate leaders to decide whose data points to use in such a scenario?

Establishing a single source of truth eliminates this issue. Instead of debating which of many competing data sources should be used for making company decisions, everyone can use the same, unified source for all their data needs It provides data that can be used by anyone, in any way, across the entire organization.

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How SSOT works

DRG (Decision Resources Group) has become the premier provider of healthcare analytics, data and insight products and services to the world’s leading pharma, biotech and medical technology companies. The healthcare market is undergoing massive amounts of disruption, with new technologies, research, and regulations constantly coming online; data promises to revolutionize healthcare approaches, but there is more data than ever coming from more sources to process.

Therefore, to remain a market leader in the healthcare analytics industry, and respond to increasingly specific requests from its clients, DRG needed to organize and combine a number of data sources, analyze information faster, and deliver more insightful analysis via several channels.

“We recognized that to do that better than our competitors, we needed to be able to manage and derive insights from petabytes of data,” says Sven Junkergard, the CTO of DRG. “That data includes the research data we own and manufacture, ‘real-world data’ from millions of electronic health records [EHRs], healthcare claims and medical records, and data from clients. We knew our existing IT infrastructure could not scale up to handle that volume of big data, so we set out to create what we call a Real World Data Platform.”

DRG selected Talend and the Snowflake cloud data warehouse as the foundation of its new Real World Data Platform, and worked with Talend Professional Services to implement the cloud solution. Other key components of DRG’s new platform include AWS S3, Spark for advanced machine learning, Apache Parquet format, and Tableau for analysis. In essence, the company built the very platform it was looking for.

Junkergard says Talend has helped DRG master its data and build a trusted single source of the truth for departments companywide. “Our data platform has enabled us to support a very high growth rate with a smaller overhead investment than other solutions would have required,” says Junkergard. He says DRG’s IT staff can now serve a large number of users who get their answers faster, which enables them to deliver products and services to market sooner.

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Benefits of SSOT

A robust data and business intelligence infrastructure that runs on an SSOT can:

  • Eliminate duplicate entries of data
  • Provide decision-makers with the right data at the right time
  • Substantially reduce the time spent on identifying which recorded data is correct
  • Iteratively improve the data intelligence capabilities of the company

With faster and more timely decision-making, the company will be in a better position to implement new strategies based on accepted data points

How to overcome SSOT obstacles

Obstacles to implementing SSOT include:

  • Getting participant buy-in
  • Collecting high-quality data
  • Knowing what the data is telling you — as opposed to looking at what the data itself actually is

The first step to achieving buy-in is to work with senior business leaders on establishing which source of information is the best to use. This may take time, but consensus can be reached after a discussion and vote. Once this is done, it’s all a matter of getting high-quality data to that source. This can be done by:

  • Excluding certain types of data, such as random data points from executive presentations or the news
  • Allowing only data extracted from the official company dashboard to be used in analytics
  • Filtering and storing all SSOT data on to one platform that is accessible by everyone across the company

Finally, there is a fine line between what your data is and what it says. For example, high web page drop-off rates could either mean you have an unresponsive website that needs to be improved, or it could mean your company’s messaging needs refinement because people visit your web page but are not properly engaged.

  • Company personnel who have access to the data they need can dig into the data to see beyond obvious trends and statistical points
  • By allowing decision makers to collect, manage, and analyze data across all of the company’s operational areas using a solution such as self-service data, they can separate background noise from real problems and proactively implement fixes in real-time

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Implementing your first SSOT trial

How would an SSOT take form? Here are the steps you may have to undertake in order to implement an SSOT:

  1. Get buy-in. Get senior business leaders together and work out the pros and cons of each of your data sources and choose the best source to initiate your SSOT pilot.
  2. Once the source is chosen, have your tech team work cross-departmentally to identify who needs what types of data. Will certain permission levels be required? Can your existing IT infrastructure support the change? Work out an updated IT plan accordingly.
  3. With a clear picture of how to deliver data access to those who need it, iteratively arrive at a narrower and narrower set of data points to benchmark data for a specific business operation.
  4. Ensure everyone is on board and knows what the data access steps and requirements are after you have clear, well-defined, and trackable data sources.
  5. Ensure that all relevant businesspeople are able to securely access that data.
  6. Triple-check compliance requirements. Any adjustment to how data is organized and accessed could accidentally overstep compliance boundaries. Double- and triple-check requirements to make sure you’re still compliant.
  7. Roll out the process to the next business unit and data type in line.

How Talend facilitates SSOT

Talend Cloud has the capability to bring together a single source of trust with apps like Data Catalog, which allows companies can organize their data at scale. This makes data accessible like never before and helps companies address data challenges head-on. Talend Cloud helps organizations experience a faster SSOT implementation.

Download a free trial to see how Talend Cloud can realign your entire organization on a clear, common, and shared vision through the use of a cloud-based SSOT.

| Last Updated: March 20th, 2019