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The Importance of Data Integrity in Corporate Real Estate

January 14, 2019

As the amount of data availability grows, so does the importance of data integrity.

By Ted Healey

As a corporate real estate leader, you need accurate, precise data—often in real-time—in order to make critical short- and long-term business decisions. Whether you’re trying to boost productivity by co-locating business groups or negotiate for better lease options, it is imperative to have data you can trust.

Data integrity refers to the quality and reliability of the data: in a nutshell, is the data extracted and communicated in a consistent and rigorous format? Understanding the importance of data integrity, and how to maintain it, is especially crucial when you're using a tool like Serraview, which takes in data from multiple outside sources, such as your IWMS, entry sensors and other IoT devices.

If data integrity isn’t maintained, you won't be able to make evidence-based business decisions. Either you won't get data at all because of an issue with the systems sending and receiving data, or the data you do get won't be accurate or valid.

The Three Pillars of Space Planning Software

Before we examine how to verify data integrity, let’s review the “three pillars” of space planning:

1. Gathering Data

In today’s workplace, data comes in a variety of forms: space management information, space utilization data, cloud and network usage, building systems and utilities, employee productivity and engagement, and more. You need a robust tool (or tools) to collect and aggregate this mountain of data.

2. Analyzing Data

A tool like Serraview is able to conduct the important first level of analysis on this aggregated data, allowing you to see accurate, real-time reporting about space usage and more. Other effective tools employ data science and machine learning to identify patterns and compare real-time with historical data to better inform your decisions.

3. Taking Action

Armed with this analysis, from a CRE perspective, your next step is to look at it critically and ask questions. For example: Do your group allocations make sense, or are people randomly split up from their team? What’s causing the conference room shortages that seem to happen every Thursday?

Once you go after these next-level insights, you’re able to make evidence-based decisions to improve your workplace.

A Data Contract

When one system takes in data and then sends it to another system for aggregation and analysis, there needs to be a shared understanding of the content and formatting of that data.

Serraview creates a “data contract” that documents what kind of data the system will receive and from where. The system checks all the data it receives to ensure it conforms to this expectation. If the data Serraview gets is inconsistent in some way, it will either request to resend the data or alert the user that there is an issue.

Ensuring Data Integrity

Serraview, and the systems it receives data from, typically uses a checksum hash function on all data to ensure this data contract is being upheld. The sending system takes its large file of complex information, runs it through the checksum hash function, and gets a simple label (like “12345”). It sends the data file and label to Serraview, which runs its own checksum hash function. If Serraview gets the same “12345” label, it will accept the data. If not, it will reject it and either request it be resent or alert the user.

The Right Amount of Flexibility

When there are issues with data integrity, you generally have two options. First, you can go back to the sending system and correct the data it collected. For example, if your IWMS collects HR data on new hires and sends it to Serraview as part of the space utilization analysis process, and you discover the manual data entry was done incorrectly. The data can simply be re-entered and re-sent to Serraview.

Second, Serraview’s settings can accommodate a certain level of variation in the data it receives. You might be switching to new entry sensors, and the old devices send whole numbers (10) while the news ones are slightly more precise (10.0). Without some degree of artificial intelligence and flexibility, Serraview would unnecessarily reject the data it’s receiving from the new sensors.

Good Business Decisions Reinforce the Importance of Data Integrity

Maintaining data integrity is a cornerstone of Serraview’s development. Without a system that rigorously maintains high standards for your data, you can’t obtain any meaningful analysis to make strong decisions.

But technology can’t do all the work—the individuals using the data to make decisions need to have some knowledge about the context. If the reports and analysis you get seem off, you must determine:

  • Is the data received from an input system corrupt?
  • Is the system rejecting accurate data because it’s not being flexible enough?
  • Is the system being too flexible and accepting bad data?

The human side of maintaining data quality involves thinking critically and asking questions. To make sure your technology and systems are conforming to your expectations and standards, you should run periodic checks and audits to verify and validate the data you’re getting. If you are working with bad data, these will help pinpoint the source so you can correct the issue.

To ensure the data being entered into Serraview is valid and accurate, there's a built-in CRM system that allows individual business units to review and validate their allocations, saving the CRE team from doing manual walk-throughs. Companies can create their own processes to ensure data gets reviewed and validated on a regular basis, and the system can also provide reports on whether or not that happens, so the CRE team is informed and can follow up directly with department heads when needed.

Interested in collecting more, and better, data so you can make strong, informed business decisions about your workforce and workplace? Download our guide to workplace utilization data and discover how IoT and other technologies provide insights.

Interested in collecting more, and better, data so you can make strong, informed business decisions about your workforce and workplace? Download our guide to workplace utilization data and discover how IoT and other technologies provide insights.

Download our guide
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