What Is Data Integrity?

Many businesses have invested in collecting data and analytics to help them make critical business decisions. However, sound analysis and decision are only possible if the data is reliable, consistent, and accurate.

Data Integrity

Many businesses have invested in collecting data and analytics to help them make critical business decisions. However, sound analysis and decision are only possible if the data is reliable, consistent, and accurate. So how do you ensure that you work with reliable, consistent, and accurate data? The answer is simple, pay attention to data integrity.

A report by KPMG indicated that 92% of senior executives are worried about how data and analytics would affect their organizations. You can, however, worry less about the same if you put measures to ensure data integrity at all levels of your organization.

Data integrity can either be a state or a process. As a state, it describes a set of data as being both valid and accurate, while as a process, it defines the measures put in place to achieve the validity and accuracy of data. The idea surrounding data integrity is to ensure that your data maintains consistency, reliability, and completeness throughout its entire lifecycle. Data security is also part of data integrity, ensuring data is only accessible to authorized parties.

There are two main types of data integrity: physical and logical integrity. Physical integrity protects the complete data structure as it is stored and retrieved. It can be compromised by power outages, hackers, or human errors, which can get in the way of proper data storage and retrieval. On the other hand, logical integrity ensures that data remains intact through various uses. It also seeks to protect from human error and hackers but in a different way. There are four types of logical integrity which include: entity integrity, referential integrity, domain integrity, and user-defined integrity.

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3 Tips for Maintaining Data Integrity

1. Use CRM Systems

There is a misconception purporting Customer Relationship Management to be an outdated tool, but this is far from the truth. Advent cloud computing has transformed and revitalized CRM to offer more functionality while remaining efficient, consistent, and cost-effective. Modern businesses rely on CRM systems to consolidate and manage customer data, automating some of the customer-facing operations. Data is like your currency and maintaining its integrity is crucial for your operations.

CRMs include a wide selection of data fields to help capture different data types. Use this feature and be selective of the data you obtain by only populating the required fields. Accuracy is an essential part of data integrity, and by choosing what data to track, you can create a timely, consistent, actionable, and, most importantly, accurate database. In addition, CRMs can automate the data collection process and thus eliminate the risk of human error, which often impacts data integrity.

You can also use a CRM tool to run data audits. This will help you identify incomplete, duplicate, and outdated data. It becomes difficult to access information or even run an analysis for your business without cleaning up and combining data. Therefore, using CRM to improve your data quality boosts your data integrity, leaving you with a consistent, reliable, and accurate database.

2. Educate Your Employees

A big challenge with most organizations is that their employees do not understand the value of data integrity and therefore don't even put effort into preserving it. Start by creating a culture of integrity, honesty, and transparency within your business. Employees must be transparent about their work and learn to own up to their actions. This will eventually translate to how they manage business data. They will learn to be responsive and proficient since they are confident in their abilities to secure and manage data integrity. As a result, all your departments will be accountable and cohesive.

Educating your employees is vital in preventing data integrity risks like human error. Begin by educating them on how to enter and preserve data and also delegate the responsibilities of data maintenance so that everyone is accountable for ensuring data integrity. Employees can also help identify or stop threats against data integrity only if they are equipped with the necessary knowledge. For example, consider having a readily available reference document that all employees can always refer to whenever needed.

Training and education on data integrity should be active and progressive that respond to your business needs. Make a point to schedule regular training for both new and existing employees.

3. Standardized Data Entry

Standardizing your data at the input stage is essential for consistency. Raw data from various sources may sometimes include a vast range of differences. For example, having people indicate their weight using different metrics such as pounds or kilograms. The data will have to be standardized to avoid the trouble and confusion caused by using different ranges and make it logical and easy to process.

Standardized data entry ensures data reliability, compliance, accuracy, and security. When you take data without standardizing it, you risk losing opportunities since the data may give you a wrong analysis. It may also result in more manual processes due to the inability of the data to flow through the automation, making you spend more time and money on tasks.

To effectively standardize your data, you will need to figure out several things.

  • What data are you collecting, and what do you need it for?
  • Which are your data entry points? Are you using manual entry, automated tools, 3rd part vendors, or an in-house list from past events?
  • Which data standards will give you the best flow?

Why Should Data Integrity Be a Priority for Your Business?

Collecting data is very easy these days. The problem is that we are collecting so much information that storing and maintaining it is challenging. As a result, the data kept by most organizations are susceptible to errors and cybercrime. Without a strategy to preserve the integrity of your data, you achieve limited success as your decision-making will often be wrongly informed.

To save time, effort, and resources, you must have a strategy to maintain data integrity. That way, your data becomes more reliable, accurate, and consistent. Contact Orbis Solutions, Inc., a cyber-security solutions provider in Las Vegas, to learn more about how you can secure the integrity of your data.

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