Knowledge

Data Synchronization: Why is it important?

Having the same record types appear across applications is essential, but the process of manually re-entering data in applications leaves employees prone to errors that create data discrepancies between systems. This results in misalignment and friction among functions, individual teams being misled into making poor decisions, and business-critical reports becoming inaccurate. Given these consequences, it’s perhaps little surprise that poor data quality costs organizations millions of dollars every year. Data synchronization neatly addresses this issue, as it all but ensures that the data across your apps is consistent and accurate – assuming you’re working with error-free source systems.

What is Data Synchronization?

Data synchronization is the process of keeping your data sets consistent and accurate across different applications so they are identical, regardless of their location. Maintaining data uniformity across multiple applications manually isn’t the best approach. No matter how careful you try to be, errors can occur in the process. Data synchronization is an automated process of keeping your sets consistent.

Having them in different locations increases the chances of discrepancies. As you interact with one data set, you may alter it either intentionally or accidentally, thereby making it different from the others. Inaccuracies between the various data assets could expose your system to cyber threats or mean backups become useless.

data synchronization

Why is Data Synchronization important?

Data synchronization is essential to creating a consistent experience. Data impacts your customers, employees, and stakeholders. The insights you get from your customer data and more inform your sales goals, processes, and growth. Let’s talk about some specifics.

Keeping data secure

Data is an asset. Proper data synchronization practices can protect data from corruption, keeping it more secure.

Maintaining data quality

Manual data modification is a time-consuming and expensive process. Data synchronization helps businesses maintain a high level of data accuracy. At the same time, it also helps avoid errors and fix mistakes that can have major impacts.

Quality data management

Quality data creates a strong foundation for consistent data management. Inaccurate data and frequent workarounds can create inconsistent reports.

To focus your strategy on data-driven insights, you need reliable information. Data synchronization instills trust in your data when making major decisions.

Data harmonization

Data harmonization combines distinct data fields, formats, and more into a combined set of data. This makes it easier for businesses to analyze and visualize that data toward their goals.

A major challenge today for businesses is accumulating data from different sources. Companies work with many different tools at the same time. It can take extensive time and expertise to draw anything useful from that disconnected data.

However, data synchronization can help businesses harmonize their different streams of data. It can make your business more secure, trustworthy, and effective.

Benefits of Data Synchronization

Synchronization is critical to organizations for a variety of reasons. It’s necessary to meet governance requirements and to inform and help drive business strategy.

Meets Security and Governance Requirements

Security and confidentiality of data are important for companies that must follow strict compliance guidelines such as GDPR, HIPAA, or the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018. Each system within an organization may have different policies and security requirements. A synchronization tool helps ensure your business meets all governance requirements.

Ensures Data Quality

Information often exists in multiple systems, and each system may have a different structure. All sources must coordinate updates and validation. This is to ensure the integrity of the data within a secure environment. Regular synchronization continually improves the value of your information by making it more useful for your business.

Provides Real-Time Insights

Meeting customer demand requires real-time insights to inform business strategy and decision-making. Synchronization gives leaders up-to-date info to use for identifying opportunities that will drive revenue.

Solves Information Complexity Issues

Legacy systems are still very much in use by organizations. There is a wealth of information that can be hard to access within these systems. Synchronizing information between legacy systems and modern systems allows companies to enrich their data warehouse with additional details.

data synchronization

How to do Data Synchronization?

Some of the techniques used to retrieve the data for synchronization are as follows.

  • Change log capturing: Changes can be added to a log, and then the log reader can read its events and send them to a relevant system or source.
  • Distributed transactions: This involves spanning a transaction to be executed in multiple data sources.
  • Querying the data by timestamps: A table can use a select query with a where clause that has a timestamp and send the result set to a relevant system or source.
  • Capturing data changes using table triggers: The database itself sends the change events to a relevant system or source.
  • Listening to a particular directory or file: The system checks for a file update, reads the new lines, and sends the update to a relevant system or source.

Types of Data Synchronization

Synchronous (Request-Reply) is an approach used for rendering information in front of a user in real-time. A common protocol for this exchange is HTTP(S), though other protocols are possible, as well. The intent is to block the user interface while the data sync is occurring in the background. For example, suppose you have an application with a monthly subscription. In that case, it is a good practice to block full access to the functionality of the application until the subscription activity is clarified.

Asynchronous is a type of synchronization where the data does not have to be moved immediately but can be moved later. This means that the system sending a request doesn’t have to wait for a reply to continue operating.

The advantage of this approach is that the user interface is not blocked during the process and is suitable for syncing large volumes of data. For instance, when syncing data between a CRM and ERP system, when a sales manager enters new information, the CRM system would spot the change and send a request. At a later time, the data will be synced to the ERP system. It doesn’t really matter when the update happens.

To break things down even further, it also matters whether a ‘smart’ server is involved or whether the process is peer-to-peer, with the client apps handling all of the complexities.

Top five challenges

Organizing your business data sounds like a simple task. But consider the different systems in a single business — CRM, product management, employee portals, customer support, billing, and invoicing. Multiple users enlist data from the cloud on different applications while maintaining security and integrity. The process can become a time and cost burden at best, and a nightmare at its worst. What kinds of challenges are associated with data synchronization?

Security

Security and confidentiality are two non-negotiable governance issues that businesses must carefully manage. How data moves through your system needs to meet certain regulatory standards as they relate to specific industries as well as to privacy laws. Unique systems have different policies and access requirements. Your data encryption methods must be compliant and consistent within each system. A synchronization tool ensures that changes made to your data are updated in a manner that meets the standards set by your specific security needs. Data breaches or leaks, problems with trade licenses or government regulations, and reputation loss are just a few of the negative consequences of a system that doesn’t work. All of these effects typically lead to a loss of customers and revenue.

Data quality

Multiple systems used by multiple business users mean that data is structured differently throughout its lifecycle. Ongoing updates and constant validation must be integrated and synchronized from all sources while maintaining strict integrity of information within a secure environment. Without a seamless synchronization system in place, data transactions and authorization can be delayed, and management controls can be affected by inaccurate data. Regular synchronization of sources and targets continually improves the value of your data but makes it work specifically for your business.

Management

Data organization has to be managed and integrated in real-time to ensure accuracy and prevent errors like rejected records or data that is in an incorrect format. For example, manufacturing needs updates on time to assure product readiness. Customers want to know when they will see the delivery of their order. Real-time synchronization is the only way to meet these expectations.

data synchronization

Performance

To successfully synchronize your data it must pass through five phases:

  • Extraction from the source
  • Transfer
  • Transformation
  • Transfer
  • Load to target

If any of these steps are missed or incomplete, it can impact the result. Especially as the cloud produces a large volume of data, synchronization must be a priority to keep performance at its peak.

Data complexity

Data formats must change and grow with the addition of new vendors and customers, as well as to meet the needs of continuous technological advances. The more data the more complexity becomes an issue to appropriately interface data in new situations while enabling it to continue to work with the old systems. Further, as technology changes, data that is updated to a new system must be consistent with its source and target. Data synchronization stabilizes the incoming and outgoing data making sure it is updated and compliant across the board.

Synchronize your data for better business intelligence

Making business decisions is tough because the choices you make don’t just affect you. Each decision has the potential to impact people on your team, customers, and more. Data-driven insights can help you make the best choice for everyone. But only if you can rely on your data.

With data synchronization, you can build consistent flows of accurate data. This lets you make data-driven decisions that you and your team can trust.

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