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What Is Data Integrity?

man reviewing data on an analytics dashboard

Data integrity is a concept that is foundational for operational efficiency and  strategic decision-making. Not only that, high quality data is also proven to increase customer satisfaction and trust. Let’s discuss the specifics surrounding data integrity and steps you can take to improve your data’s quality. 

Understanding Data Integrity

Data integrity encompasses the overall completeness, accuracy, and consistency of data. It ensures that data is unaltered during transit and remains reliable and accurate over time. There are two main types of data integrity: physical and logical.

Physical Integrity

This type of integrity is concerned with protecting data from external threats, such as natural disasters, hardware failures, or human errors that can lead to data loss or damage. Techniques such as redundant hardware, secure storage solutions, and comprehensive backup strategies are employed to safeguard physical integrity.

Logical Integrity

Logical integrity focuses on the correctness and consistency of data as it is used and manipulated within a system. It involves a subset of constraints:

  • Entity integrity, the goal of which is to avoid duplications
  • Referential integrity, which governs how the data is stored and used
  • Domain integrity, which presents the data in the correct format
  • User-defined integrity, which ensures the data meets with an industry’s specific requirements 

Data Integrity vs Data Quality

Data quality is actually a measurement of an organization’s data integrity. Analysts assign a score to the following items related to a dataset:

  • Accuracy: is the data within the set free of errors and support real-world, provable knowledge?
  • Consistency: does the data match other sources? 
  • Completeness: does the data encompass any and all information that would be helpful for the business goal?
  • Uniqueness: are there any duplications or unnecessary overlap within the data?
  • Validity: is the data expressed in the correct format?
  • Timeliness: is the data in its most current form? 

Business owners should seek to have high scores across all of these areas. Areas with low scores should be promptly addressed. Your dedicated data analyst can suggest ways to accomplish this. 

The Benefits of Good Data Integrity

It goes without saying that reliable, consistent, accurate, and relevant data is critical to a strategy’s success. Specifically, data integrity offers the following benefits:

Enhanced Decision-Making: reliable data that is presented in a meaningful way to an organization enables that business  to make informed decisions confidently, reducing the risk of costly errors.

Compliance and Security: many industries are governed by regulations requiring strict data management practices. Good data integrity helps in maintaining compliance and protecting sensitive information.

Operational Efficiency: high-quality data reduces the chances of errors and discrepancies, streamlining operations and saving valuable time and resources. 

Customer Trust: since they can confidently rely on their data to continually improve, businesses that maintain good data integrity can provide consistently high quality services. This is an important aspect in gaining and maintaining customer trust. 

How to Ensure Good Data Integrity

There are many ways business owners can ensure the integrity of their data. Some of the most easily implemented steps include:

Robust Security Measures: protecting data from unauthorized access and breaches is an important part of physical data integrity (see above).

Regular Data Audits: regular audits, also known as data profiling, should be conducted  to identify and rectify inconsistencies, duplications, or errors is another essential step in making sure your data quality score remains high. 

Data Cleansing: any discrepancies discovered in an audit should be addressed and rechecked in future data profiling. 

Location Meta Tags: you will want to tag your data with specific location information to ensure compliance with both national and global data protection regulations. Knowing precisely where your data comes from and where it has been is a critical component of this compliance. 

Data Backup and Recovery Plans: make sure data is regularly backed up and easily recoverable in case of loss. This is part of the timeliness aspect of high data quality, which entails having correct data available when needed.

Data Validation Techniques: employ constraints and validation rules to maintain logical integrity. For example, you can periodically review your data set in batches to screen for any anomalies or duplications. You can also audit datasets in real time, depending on what you are looking for. 

Employee Education: foster a culture of data democratization among your staff. Understanding the value of high quality data benefits not only the business owner, but also makes daily operations more streamlined and less stressful for employees. 

How to Guarantee High Quality Data

In addition to implementing the above steps, one of the best ways you can guarantee your data’s integrity is by hiring a dedicated data analyst. Data analysts specialize in data quality, including contextualization methods that help business owners make the absolute most of their chosen metrics. 

Impact by Insight is a top Denver analytics firm that works to encourage data literacy across all businesses, regardless of size. Knowing which data to monitor and how to use it to your advantage is critical for success. We will help you every step of the way, ultimately presenting your data in a way that is most helpful for you and your decision-making. Call or go online today to see how we can help you. 

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