The Myth of Single Version of the Truth

I’ve heard this term bandied about for many years now, “Single Version of the Truth”. As Jack Nicholson once said, “You can’t handle the Truth!” I would paraphrase that as, “You can’t afford a Single version of the Truth, and you wouldn’t want it anyway!”. So, let’s see how many of you I can get to agree on this one :).

What is Implied?

From a business standpoint, “Single Version of the Truth” or SVT, is often pimped as this utopian idea that all of your data, about everything to do with your customers and your business is in one place. providing the coveted 360-degree customer view. First, no such Utopian application can be subscribed to from anyone on this planet today. However, you can subscribe to several applications and potentially spend an enormous sum of money and time to wire them all together, giving the illusion of a SVT. While some of you might be sad to hear that SVT is not “push-button”, I will try to cheer you up by saying you would not want it anyway.

Silos are Bad!

Yes, if you read back on my blog, you will see me also preaching that data silos are bad. In fact, I used the same post image for this post. But that was then, and this is now. Back in the days before the Power Platform, when all we had was Dynamics 365, we also sang Microsoft’s tune of the time that “You want all of your data in one place”, meaning in a Dynamics 365 database.

This was a strong argument for a customer who was considering multiple point solutions made by vendors other than Microsoft. And we had a great deal of success consolidating those multiple point solutions under a single Dynamics 365 umbrella. But to call that a SVT was a stretch. Maybe “Fewer Versions of the Truth” with a 245-degree view of the customer was a more realistic goal, as that was typically the outcome.

Dynamics Silos

Even under the Dynamics 365 brand there were, and still are, silos. Dynamics 365 Sales runs on top of Dataverse, while Dynamics 365 Business Central or Dynamics 365 Finance run on their own databases. Dual-write is an ongoing effort to create the SVT illusion.

Power Platform

The Power Platform arrived and blew up the whole concept of SVT. Even Microsoft started singing a different tune, promoting their Center of Excellence “COE”, so you could more easily manage the possibly thousands of environments (aka Data Silos) that users could now create in your enterprise tenant.

So, is SVT dead? The problem was never with “Point Solutions” and their siloed data, it was with “Point Solutions” and silos from other vendors. With the Power Platform, Microsoft created a rocket engine to crank out “Point Solutions”… but these would be “inside the wall”.

Silos are Good!

So now let me be my own devil’s advocate. I will take our own organization, Forceworks for example.

The Sales side of our business watches over AppSource prospects and website prospects etc. You can probably imagine that with over 50K users of our RapidStartCRM app, that means there were way more prospects than that, who did not move forward. So, we have thousands of prospects and most of these will never amount to anything, of course. Not unlike any other business where the number of prospects is typically exponentially higher than the number of actual customers.

The Services side of our business works with our actual customers, not every RapidStartCRM user becomes a customer. Our customers are organizations who have engaged us to support or customize not only RapidStartCRM, but also Dynamics 365 or anything Power Platform related. So, our Service database is a fraction of the size of our Sales database.

In our case, Sales runs on a customized version of RapidStartCRM in one environment, and Service runs on another customized version of RapidStartCRM in another environment. The rationale? Why should the service team have to navigate around thousands of irrelevant records?  If they are not customers, they don’t need to be in the Service silo.

But what about Synchronization!

Much of “Synchronization” is unnecessary hype. Yet many organizations pay us tons of money to try to achieve it. Flow can handle 90% of what is actually useful. For example, when a prospect in our Sales solution becomes a customer, a simple flow creates the record in the Service solution. If a service customer asks about a new app or service, a simple flow in the service app updates the record in the Sales solution.

Unintended Consequences

If you have not yet built a flow that acted beyond the scope of what you intended… you have not bult enough flows. Both of our environments have multiple flows, many quite complex, automating a bunch of things. Were all of these in a single environment, the chances of a Service flow accidently scooping in some Sales records for example is much higher. So, flow development becomes much more complex.

But what about my 360-degree view of the Customer?

Let’s face it, you are not going to get around the fact that you will have multiple sources of data. At least with Microsoft, it is possible to have all of those data sources under one roof, which I do not believe can be provided by any other company today. If you really want that 360-degree view, yet another application can give you that, Power BI (Microsoft’s Business Intelligence app). Power BI can not only connect, munge together and regurgitate beautiful charts and graphs using data from all of your Microsoft sources, it can bring in most of your external data sources as well. I would still argue that the “360-Degree view” is over-rated, the only positions that might actually need that are very high senior management, and we all know they don’t look at data anyway… unless it supports a personal agenda.

So that’s my take on this. If you are looking to shovel money to someone in pursuit of this dream, hit me up. Or if you just want business applications that “work” for your business, you can also hit me up.

Feel free to leave any comment you like, as long as it supports my personal agenda, I am a CEO after all 🙂


Add your thoughts below, just don’t pimp your stuff on my blog 🙂


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