Data sharing is the answer to a single version of the truth


Data may be of high quality in two alternative ways:

  • Either they are fit for the purpose of their intended use
  • Or they correctly represent the real-world construct to which they refer

In my eyes the term “single version of the truth” relates best to the real-world way of data being of high quality while “shared version of the truth” relates best to the hard work of making data fit for multiple intended use of shared data within an enterprise or in a broader business ecosystem.My thesis is that there is a breakeven point when including more and more purposes where it will be less cumbersome to reflect the real world object rather than trying to align all known purposes.

The map analogy

In search for this truth we will go on a little journey around the world. For a journey we need a map.

Traditionally we have the challenge that the real-world being the planet Earth is round (3 dimensions) but a map shows a flat world (2 dimensions). If a map shows a limited part of the world the difference doesn’t matter that much. This is similar to fitting the purpose of use in a single business unit.

If the map shows the whole world we may have all kind of different projections offering different kind of views on the world having some advantages and disadvantages. A classic world map is the rectangle where Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Svalbard, Siberia and Antarctica are presented much larger than in the real-world if compared to regions closer to equator. This is similar to the problems in fulfilling multiple uses embracing all business units in an enterprise or even companies participating in a business ecosystem with trading partners.

Data sharing makes fit for purpose information

You may divide the data held by an enterprise into 3 buckets:

  • Global data (aka 3rd party data) that is not unique to operations in your enterprise but shared with other enterprises in the same industry and eventually the whole world. Here shared data in the cloud will make your single version of the truth easier and closer to the real world.
  • Bilateral data (aka 2nd party data) which is data shared with your trading partners in your business ecosystem. Emerging new technologies makes data sharing by connecting in the cloud an obvious way to decrease your efforts in collecting data from many sources.
  • Private data (aka 1st party data) is data unique to operations in your enterprise. This may be a single version of the truth that you find superior to what others have found, data supporting internal business rules that make your company more competitive and data referring to internal events.

Here a global or bilateral shared version of the truth helps approaching a single version of the truth to be shared in your enterprise.

Do you want to read more blogs from Henrik please visit his website with his long time running blog at  Also recently Henrik formed a venture within Product Information Management (PIM). It is a cloud service for sharing product data in business ecosystems of manufacturers, distributors and retailers. The service is active at