Single Source of Truth

What is a single source of truth?

A single source of truth (SSoT) is a data management approach that aggregates data from multiple sources and stores it in a designated authoritative data source. This master data source then becomes the "golden record" that acts as the reference point from which teams across the enterprise can pull timely, accurate information.

By consolidating data into one place, the single source of truth becomes the trusted hub that provides one unified view of business data for making data-driven decisions.

Why is there a need for a single source of truth?

There are several reasons for the necessity of creating a single source of truth:

  • Data silos - In some organizations, data is stored in disconnected systems, spreadsheets or databases in different departments or locations. This typically results in data being updated and managed independently without visibility into or the ability to verify against other sources.

  • Duplication of effort - Without an SSoT, time is wasted creating redundant copies of data. When you eventually need to use the data, you have to spend even more time searching multiple data sources and reconciling and verifying multiple data sets.

  • Decision confidence - With multiple versions of the data, there is less confidence in the data. Decision makers are unsure which source is authoritative and up-to-date, and may inadvertently make business decisions based on outdated, incorrect data.

  • Regulatory compliance - Regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) often require authoritative master data sources to be in place, non-compliance with which can prove costly or even fatal to organizations.

  • Analytics - Data analytics and business intelligence require complete, consistent data to produce accurate insights. When old, inaccurate or incomplete data is used, insights and reports become flawed and unreliable. This can lead to poor strategic decisions that waste resources, miss opportunities, or negatively impact customers due to reliance on poor data.

Establishing a single source of truth addresses these pitfalls by consolidating data into a single consistent and controlled source. With a single version of key data elements that every team member has access to, organizations can improve efficiency, decision-making confidence, regulatory compliance and data analytics performance.

For today's data-driven organizations, a single source of truth is simply a strategic necessity.

Can a PIM system be used as a single source of truth?

A properly implemented Product Information Management (PIM) system can serve as a single source of truth specifically for product information within an organization by aggregating data from disparate systems, such as ERPs, legacy databases, and spreadsheets, and then enriching it into complete, up-to-date product content ready for distribution to sales channels, eCommerce sites, distributors, etc.

Key capabilities that allow a PIM to be a single source of truth include:

  • Centralized product database with standardized data models
  • Workflow for ingesting, validating, and mapping data from multiple sources
  • Data quality checks to ensure accuracy and completeness
  • Enrichment from other systems and normalization into standardized formats
  • Permissions to control authorized user access
  • Audit trail for changes and version control

With the right data governance policies in place, a PIM system can act as the master hub for authoritative, standardized product information for all front-end channels, customer touchpoints, and internal business systems.