Building a unified data model can help an organization create a holistic view of their data which can be used across the enterprise with ease and confidence. It’s not an uncommon scenario where different teams in an organization look at the same data and come up with completely different conclusions. So, where is the single source of truth? How can we ascertain which data is reliable enough to be trusted? How do we build a centralized system where everything is connected and consistent?
Creating a single source of truth is not an easy task and requires a lot of investment in terms of time and money. In most organizations, data is stored in multiple silos owned by different teams, the data definitions are not consistent across systems, there is lack of cooperation between teams and many times the data that needs to be connected is extremely large in size. This post discusses the key success factors for building a single source of truth across an enterprise.
Success Factor 1: Strong Central Mandate
Changing the way an organization collects, stores, and uses data needs enterprise-wide collaboration. The first step in the process should be to get senior management sponsorship. For the initiative to be successful, it is important that they understand why this exercise is imperative and what business value can be derived from it. They should trust the initiative and should be willing to invest in people, processes and technologies that will help build a truly data-driven business.
Success Factor 2: Choose the Right Technology and Platforms
There are many tools and technologies available today for data-related projects and they all serve a specific purpose. But organizations that succeed assess their needs and choose platforms that are best suited for them. They leverage Big Data tools and technologies to consolidate their data silos and meet the analytical requirements of the business users.
Since stitching or blending data in from silos is time-consuming and error-prone, it makes sense to use technologies that can automatically prepare, migrate and integrate data as well as the logic from silos to a centralized data platform. Data integrity, security, and governance are key concerns that need to be addressed. Choosing the right platform and technology is vital for achieving current goals and preparing for the future.
Success Factor 3: Focus on Results
Another key success factor is to build an environment where the focus is more on results than on technology. It is important to build an organization-wide culture where every person and every team across the organization uses data for making decisions.
For this, data should be available to users across the organization, when they need it, and in a consumable format. Instead of limiting data access to a select few, data should be accessible to everyone (of course, with controls), so that every function in the organization is empowered to make data-driven decisions. Users should be able to ask their questions and the answers should help them take better decisions. Only then it will be possible to get returns which justify the effort and the investments.
This can be done by building a BI consumption layer on top of the data platform that allows business users to consume data without the need of technical expertise or IT support. Enabling self-service access to data will make it easy for them to use data for business benefits.
Success Factor 4: Follow an Incremental Approach
Trying to do everything at once is going to lead to problems. A well-balanced, phased approach will lead to success. Your data may serve several use cases like advertising planning, financial budgeting, customer support, etc. but taking everything at once will complicate the implementation. Start with a single use case and a smaller team. Take each use case to its logical end where business value is clearly visible and then start on the next use case.
However, it is also important to follow a consistent and holistic approach as this is a big initiative that requires investment in terms of time, people and processes. A gap or break may lead to disinterest and there is a danger of abandonment of the project. The best bet is to start small, complete the cycle, and then repeat.
If you want to learn more about the process of building a single source of truth for your enterprise, watch our webinar “Single Source of Truth in the Enterprise: From Mirage to Reality”.