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Data integrity: what is it and why is it important?

By Henning Lund - February 15, 2017

If you think about it, data is really nothing more than another word for information. Today, however, data has become one of the most valuable assets of any company and many would claim that it is changing the face of the world. Data can help companies boost their revenue, build more efficiently, target their audience with personalized ads, or even in some cases find a cure to a disease. The better data a company has, the more successful it is likely to become. This is where data integrity becomes key.

What is data integrity?

Data integrity refers to the accuracy and consistency of data stored in a database, data warehouse, or the like. Data with “integrity” is said to have a complete structure, i.e. all characteristics defining the data must be correct.

Why should you care about data integrity?

Information moves online and has become digitalized, resulting in an increasing amount and varied types of data being collected. We are now even talking about big data. This has made data more important, but without integrity, data is not of much use.

Data is not static, stored once and for all in your systems. Many things will happen with your data from the day it is created in your system and throughout is lifecycle. It can be transferred to other systems, altered and updated multiple times. Human interactions, data transfers, viruses or compromised hardware are all events that can compromise your data’s integrity. This is where maintaining data integrity can become a tricky task.

In my job providing data integration solutions to organizations, data quality and data integrity are always something we discuss in details. I believe that data integrity should be top of your mind at every stage of the data lifecycle, and already from the design and implementation phase of your systems. Data integrity also ensures recoverability and searchability, traceability and connectivity. Protecting the validity and accuracy of data also increases the stability and performance of your systems.

How do you secure data integrity?

Data integrity is imposed within a database at its design stage through the use of standard rules and procedures, and it is maintained through the use of error checking and validation routines. Generally, it is important that you make sure that preserving data integrity should be a top priority of your organization through:

  • Data cleaning and maintenance
  • Data entry training: train your users on how to enter and maintain data, and make them accountable for data quality.
  • Data validation rules: no matter how careful you are, human errors are almost unavoidable. Data validation rules will control and restrict the values that users can enter into their system.

Is data integrity on top of your mind? What are the actions and rules that you have put in place to secure data integrity in your organization?


About the author

Henning Lund

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With over 25 years’ experience in strategically propelling businesses forward, Henning is considered a business development entrepreneur with a passion for transforming businesses, sales and marketing operations through out-of-the-box thinking, concepts building and process automation to improve overall performance and scalability.

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