What Is Single Source of Truth

Single Source of Truth, or SSOT for short, is the concept where certain data has only one official source to ensure that everyone in an organization bases business decisions on the same data sets. Structuring data schema and information models so that you edit every data element in one exact location prevents the use of inconsistent versions of data. Any other linkages to a data element refer back to this primary “source of truth” location so that all updates propagate to the entire system without stray duplicates getting forgotten.

SSOT architecture helps enterprise businesses address the problem of incorrectly linked duplicate or denormalized data elements leading to outdated and incorrect information. SSOT systems provide a straightforward way to store data to ensure it is authentic, relevant, and referable. 

What do I need to know about Single Source of Truth?

In order for brands to stay competitive today, it is essential to act on data-derived business intelligence. But the trouble is that companies often end up spending unnecessary time figuring out where to find accurate, compliant data to use and which sources to look to. Metrics from different data sources may offer completely different information, making it tough for corporate leaders to know which data points to use. 

The Single Source of Truth concept addresses this issue by storing data points in one source across an entire organization. Instead of the confusion of many competing data sources used in making company decisions, everyone uses the same, unified source for all data needs. Everyone across the organization has access to the same data, ensuring the efficacy of data-driven decision making

SSOT aggregates data from many different systems into a single location. To illustrate, look at the way search engines work. If you search for a gym in your neighborhood, Google aims to be the single source of truth for anything you might want to know about local gyms. This includes the names, addresses, contact info, hours, photos, membership fees, etc. Google pulls this data from many sources in order to be the single source of truth for the data you want about local gyms. 

Why does an organization need Single Source of Truth?

Business leaders need to make data-driven decisions based on the data from the entire business, rather than from compartmental sources. Developing a Single Source of Truth ensures that a business is operating based on standardized, relevant data across the entire company. This is essential when business decisions rely on everything from customer and service data to sales and marketing numbers to production metrics and more. Without SSOT, a company runs the risk of creating data silos with each department operating as a black box. The more holistic insights a business has, the more competitive it will remain in today’s data-driven market. 

How to Implement a Single Source of Truth

To implement an SSOT, a business needs to aggregate all data components from the various systems across the enterprise to a primary single source of truth location. In order to accomplish this, companies need to have an integration strategy and an interface to host and surface all data. On top of this, departments and teams need to provide open access to any systems and data in use. With these requirements established, organizations can achieve SSOT architecture in a number of different ways. 

The first method is through an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), which allows a number of systems in an organization to receive updates of data that has changed in another system. First, identify a single source system of correct data for every entity. Afterward, publish any changes to this entity via the ESB. Any other systems that use the data subscribe to this update and update their own records accordingly. For any given entity, you have to identify the master source. Numerous source systems send data to the aggregated data system regularly and any changes continue to be published via ESB. 

Another way to implement SSOT is with a Master Data Management system, or MDM. An MDM system can act as the source of truth for any entity that might not have another source of truth elsewhere. The MDM serves as a hub for an organization’s master data, making it visible and accessible by way of one exact reference point. For example, an Electronic Health Record, or EHR, may have one source of truth within the database of the medical organization. But then, a patient may also update their contact info via a patient portal. The MDM pulls in updates from these various sources and then pushes updated data to all subscribing systems. 

Benefits of SSOT

Single Source of Truth is at the core of any robust data and business intelligence infrastructure. Here are some of the benefits of implementing an SSOT. 

  • Eliminate duplicate data entries 

SSOT ensures that you don’t have multiple data entries floating around, which can get confusing. 

  • Provide decision-makers with necessary data

In order to enable effective decision-making, business leaders need access to the right data at the right time. SSOT makes sure that business leaders have access to consistent, accurate data at all times. 

  • Reduce wasted time 

SSOT can substantially cut down on the time spent identifying which recorded data is correct. Eliminating duplicate records and directing all updates to a single point means that the existing record is always accurate.

  • Improve data intelligence capabilities

Faster and more timely processes in regard to decision-making puts an organization in a better position to implement new strategies. 


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Glossary of Terms

A guide to the nomenclature of data integration technology.