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Creating a Single Source of Truth

Creating a Single Source of Truth

By Jay Mehta
March 1, 2016

Over last decade, the practices in data collection have evolved and improved significantly. Those days when corporates used to complain about lack of data, especially quality data are gradually at dusk.

With multiple data sources such as syndicated, shipment, home panel, POS, promotion and media data – corporates are finding themselves in an age where they are overwhelmed with the data. With increase in the variety, there is also an increase in the range of KPIs available in this data which can play a key role in strategic decision making.

However, these databases often reside in silos and analysts spend significant number of hours in just extracting necessary numbers and arranging them in various report formats. Significant redundancy may occur due to

  • Reports that have same KPIs but are created separately for two business users who want their reports in a specific structure and format.
  • Integrating two different KPIs from different sources, each time a report with those KPIs is generated

In such a scenario, it only makes sense to have more granular approach to manage the data in a way that all the information from different data sources is available at one place. This essentially means, integrating them in a seamless manner in order to extract maximum value from the data you have and creating an environment where the entire organization is referring to a single source of truth for any decision making.

While this might sound highly daunting, the following considerations can help mitigate some of the risks by addressing them beforehand to ensure success in creating a single source of truth.

Integration Challenges

Businesses often struggle to make these disparate data sources speak to each other and create a holistic picture that can help in building meaningful insights to assist the decision making process. Some of the common challenges faced while integrating these data sources include:

  • Lack of a common key, or rather a reliable common key, to integrate the data
  • Differences in terms of time periods, product granularity, naming conventions etc. rendering the cross comparison very difficult
  • Treatment KPIs (sales, pricing) of bundled products
  • Language issues in case of non-English countries
  • Different data transformation methodologies
  • Differences in terms of units, currencies, scaling factors

Creating a single source of truth means providing a space where all these challenges are overcome and users are able to see data from various sources in complete harmony.

Build to Scale

This aspect is very important when it comes to global corporations. The solution used to create the single source of truth must be scalable to other geographies, which means that business performance KPIs, data transformation rules and business rules should be formulated in a way that increases standardization and reduces customization. Otherwise, a single source of truth might not be applicable when one moves from one country to other.

At the same time, to build a scalable solution, it only makes sense to start with one country or a geography and then scale gradually.

Single Rule for Data Transformation across Organization

Often, business teams from different countries/geographies or business units have their own way of defining metrics – for example, type of promotions or a new launch. This means, when they sit together, they speak different language while talking about the same promotional activity or new product launches. Creating a single source of truth also means defining and interpreting the KPIs in a standard manner across the organization. While it can certainly be painful and chaotic to bring standardization in large corporations, it must be driven top-down in order to make it more effective and efficient.

Aligning Business Teams to the Single Source of Truth

Each local business team has its own way of working depending upon the specific market characteristics. While one country may break their total share into baseline and incremental, another country may break it as promotional and non-promotional. It is important to have an aligned view of the business since such disparities at country level can create confusion when solving business problems at a regional or a global level. Cognizance of such differences can help create a single source of truth that will cater to both types of business needs and increase adoption. So, in a way, you can either create an intersection of everything or a union of all the elements. Most often, you will end up choosing the latter.


Strong Foundation for Accelerated Analytical Growth

Creating a single source of truth enables building an ecosystem where there is information parity through a centralized access to all the data required by anybody in the organization. With better control on the information, it also allows every team in the organization to be at par, or at least very close to each other in terms of analytical maturity. It ensures that the best is available to everyone at the same time which can be used by them to solve the business problems.

Most importantly, it builds a strong foundation with an integrated data source which can fuel rapid growth of analytical capabilities.



About the author:

Jay is a Senior Consultant in Fractal Analytics with 6+ years of experience spanning pharmaceuticals, banking, insurance and CPG industries. His key areas of experience include dashboarding and behavioral scorecard development. He has a dual degree MBA from ESCP Europe and MDI Gurgaon.
Twitter: @mehta_world

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