What is data integrity and why is it important for your business?
By Henning Lund - January 03, 2020
If you think about it, data is really nothing more than another word for information. Today, however, data is one of the most valuable assets of any company and many claim that it is changing the face of the world. Data can help companies benefit in several ways: boosting their revenue, building themselves up more efficiently, targeting their audience with personalized ads, and even find a cure to a disease. The better quality of data a company has, the more successful it is likely to become. This is where data integrity becomes key.
More and more businesses are asking "What is data integrity exactly and why is having clean and relevant data so important for a business?" Let's have a look.
What is data integrity?
Data integrity refers to the accuracy and consistency of data stored in a database or a data warehouse. Data with “integrity” is said to have a complete structure, i.e. all characteristics defining the data must be correct.
There are many ways to maintain data integrity and completeness of data, which we will explore after taking a look into the importance of data integrity for your organization.
Why is data integrity important?
Data integrity is important as it guarantees and secures the searchability and traceability of your data to its original source. Data performance and stability also increase when you ensure effective data accuracy and data protection. Maintaining the integrity of data and ensuring the completeness of data is essential, as compromised data is of no use for most companies.
There are several ways in which data integrity can be compromised. Data has become digitalized and is transferred online in a number of places, resulting in an increasing amount and varied types of data being collected. For example, data should remain unaltered whenever it is transferred or replicated between updates.
This includes big data. Data is now more important than ever, but without integrity, data is not of much use.
Data is not static, stored once and for all in your systems. There are many things that will alter your data from the very first day it is created in your system and throughout its lifecycle. It can be transferred to other systems, altered and updated multiple times. Things such as human interactions, data transfers, software 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, I am accustomed to providing data integration solutions to organizations. I am also used to discussing data quality and data integrity in great details with various companies. Most of my customers know that it is crucial to improve data integrity.
I believe that data integrity should be at the top of your mind at every stage of your data lifecycle: 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?
What helps to ensure data integrity? Data integrity is imposed within a database at its design stage through the use of standard rules and procedures. It is maintained through the use of error checking and validation routines to ensure the data hasn't been compromised between transfers and updates. Preserving data integrity should be the top priority of your organization.
Data cleaning and maintenance: make sure to do this on a regular basis, and implement a regular routine to ensure it is consistently done.
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 maintaining data integrity at the top of your mind? What are the actions and rules that you have put in place to secure data integrity in your organization?
If you haven't considered protecting and securing the data integrity of your company before today, now is the perfect time to start.
About the author
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.