Best practices

Do You Have an Unhealthy Obsession with the Single Source of the Truth?

Establishing a “single source of truth” for an organization’s data is the holy grail for many data executives and their teams today—and it’s a big mistake. More often than not, this type of thinking ends up doing a business more harm than good in the long term.

Wanting to deliver the best possible data isn’t the issue—there’s no question that an organization’s data needs to be clean, correct and error-free. The real problem with “single source of truth” thinking is that it leads data executives and teams to exert too much control. The next thing you know, data bottlenecks are preventing individuals and teams from running at full speed.

In today’s data-driven world, competitive advantage goes to teams that make better decisions faster. For data experts and their teams, that means letting go of control. 

How can you enable self-service business intelligence without compromising on data accuracy? In our latest eBook, I explore this question and unpack the issues that stem from “single source of truth” thinking. I also outline three strategies to help data executives and their teams turn the corner. Here’s a preview: 

Let Users Be Your Guide

It’s easy for data executives to assume their primary goal is building a “golden warehouse” that can serve as the organization’s definitive source of “truth.” In reality, this promised land is nothing more than an illusion. Worse yet, this approach to master data management poses real risks to the business—some of which are difficult to spot. Even if you succeed at delivering highly accurate data, for example, there’s a good chance you are also limiting the scope of questions your teams can ask in the first place. That’s a problem because it limits their ability to come up with novel solutions to important business problems.

Become a Constant Gardener 

Businesses are always evolving, and so is their data. It’s impossible to predict what any one person will want from data at any given time—sometimes they don’t even know until they find it. For data teams, that means shifting their role and mindset from gatekeepers to constant gardeners: regularly pruning, guiding growth, and sowing the fertilization for business-changing ideas that grow out of data. 

Data teams must embrace the reality that their job is never truly done. It’s a fundamental tenet of how data and self-serve BI will work as the world moves towards a post-ETL reality.   

Fuel Innovation Through Curiosity 

You can’t always plan for innovation, but you can create an organizational culture that gives rise to it. Obsessing over a “single source of truth” for data is exactly the wrong way to do it. 

Across the business world, Analytics Centers of Excellence are being built to enable digital transformation and help organizations transition into a near future when everyone is a data scientist. The brightest minds understand that encouraging curiosity and enabling self-exploration of data can be a firestarter for innovation and completely change the game. 

Download your copy of Do You Have an Unhealthy Obsession with the Single Source of Truth?: The 3 Key Mindset Shifts for Modern Data Executives to learn more about how to transform your business with data.