Poor data causes businesses to lose $3 trillion annually. While data should improve business performance and help in successfully navigating complexities, poor data amplifies the challenges. Chances of inaccurate or poor data rise when multiple platforms are utilized in everyday operations and decision-making. 

That’s why implementing data quality assurance techniques like data observability and data quality are crucial in data management.

Together, they lay down the foundation for effective data management by ensuring the reliability and trustworthiness of the data. 

However, to fully leverage their benefits, it is important to have an in-depth understanding of the key differences between data observability vs data quality and their relationship. 

Understanding Data Observability

Data observability is the process of monitoring and understanding data pipelines and workflows in real-time. It is usually associated with data management in complex, distributed systems like cloud-based data platforms, data warehouses, and data lakes. 

Data observability processes promptly identify errors in the data, which, when resolved, ensures the accuracy, consistency, and completeness of the data. In fact, with its tools, data observability also ensures that potential data issues are avoided. 

Data Observability
Image Source: Acceldata

The key components of data observability are:

  • Monitoring: It involves continuous tracking of data flows, data pipelines, and data transformations
  • Alerting: This refers to issue detection being followed by notification to ensure quick resolutions.  
  • Visibility: The availability of real-time insights into data movement within the infrastructure. These insights help with data optimization and troubleshooting.
  • Metadata: This provides information on data sources, schemas, transformations, and lineage, which improves data management
  • Drift Detection: This refers to the identification of changes in data, which, when rectified, results in model consistency. 
  • Performance Metrics: Data observability records KPIs related to the execution of data processing and data pipeline. The insights from these KPIs help in optimizing data workflows and efficiency. 
  • Root Cause Analysis: Data observability tools help in not only quickly identifying the root cause of problems, but also in solving them quickly. 

Therefore, data observability is crucial for securing data integrity, with its components leading to enhanced performance and efficiency of the data stack. This lets organizations maximize the returns on their data investments. 

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Hevo is the only real-time ELT No-code Data Pipeline platform that cost-effectively automates data pipelines that are flexible to your needs. With integration with 150+ Data Sources (40+ free sources), we help you not only export data from sources & load data to the destinations but also transform & enrich your data, & make it analysis-ready.

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Hevo is the only real-time ELT No-code Data Pipeline platform that cost-effectively automates data pipelines that are flexible to your needs. With integration with 150+ Data Sources (40+ free sources), we help you not only export data from sources & load data to the destinations but also transform & enrich your data, & make it analysis-ready.

Start for free now!

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Exploring Data Quality

One of the vital components of effective data management is data quality. This is because it ensures the accuracy, completeness, as well as reliability of data. It is because of these reasons that it is important to monitor data quality.

The key factors that influence data quality are: 

  • Accuracy: Accurate data is free of errors while also representing real-world entities like businesses, customers, and investors precisely. Inaccurate data results in inaccurate decisions. 
  • Completeness: Complete data has no gaps or missing values. Incomplete data has detrimental effects on decision-making and analysis. 
  • Consistency: Consistent data has to be internally consistent and not contradict itself within the same dataset. When there are issues in data collection and integration, it causes inconsistencies in the data. 
  • Timeliness: Data that is up-to-date while also fulfilling its specific purpose is known as timely data. Outdated insights are not helpful to businesses. 
  • Relevance: Relevant data should be able to solve the problems or questions. 
  • Reliability: Reliable data comes from credible sources and is trustworthy. 
  • Validity: Valid data has a data structure, schema, and constraints as required. If the data does not fit the expected format, it is invalid. 
  • Integrity: The data should preserve its integrity. This means that it cannot be changed without proper permissions. 

Therefore, to ensure that the data is reliable and accurate, data quality and checks are important. To enhance data integrity and usability, you can use SQL to undertake various data quality checks directly in your databases. 

For example, when analyzing sales data, you can use SQL to remove incomplete sales records, merge sales data and customer data, ensure the completeness of data, and use constraints to filter the data and ensure its relevance. In the end, you would have secured the best data quality

By doing this, you would thus be able to secure the best data quality. 

Data Quality
Image Source: Informatica

Data Observability vs Data Quality: Key Differences

In data management, data observability and data quality play distinct yet complementary roles in ensuring the reliability, accuracy, and value of datasets. 

Let’s examine the differences between these and their implications for data engineers and practitioners. 

1. Different Roles in Data Management

  • Data Quality: In data management, data quality refers to the dataset’s conditions based on various metrics like accuracy, completeness, timeliness, relevance, and completeness, and the degree to which these meet the organization’s requirements. 
  • Data Observability: In data management, data observability is involved with the real-time monitoring of data pipelines. It helps with identifying and resolving data issues in almost real time. 

2. Determination of Use and Purpose

  • Data Quality: It ensures that the data is reliable and fit for analysis, decision-making, and other business processes by adhering to the predefined standards so that it aligns with business objectives. 
  • Data Observability: It provides insights into the performance and health of the data. It also enables prompt action and issue resolution whenever required, thereby ensuring smooth data processes. 

3. Operational Differences

  • Data Quality: It occurs during data profiling, validation, and transformation. Thus, data quality processes are performed before the data is utilized.
  • Data Observability: It is a continuous process taking place throughout the lifecycle of the data. This process takes place in real time. 

4. Challenges of Relationships

  • Data Quality: Measurement of data quality helps organizations to identify inconsistencies and errors in their datasets. It also helps in determining whether the dataset fulfills its intended purpose. 
  • Data Observability: It has broad visibility into the data as well as in its multilayer dependencies. Through this visibility, it can identify, control, prevent, and avoid data outages. The insights also help businesses in designing superior data management strategies that match business objectives. 

5. Impact of Technology on Operations

  • Data Quality: While manual data quality assessments require a lot of effort and are prone to errors and the data becoming outdated midway, the adoption of modern data quality technologies helps to streamline and scale these processes with the use of automation and other necessary tools. 
  • Data Observability: The main benefit of implementing modern technologies like machine learning and analytics in data observability is that it allows for the maintenance of data quality at any scale through more focused and efficient data teams and the reduction of the effect of data quality issues due to prompt detection and resolution. 

Here’s a table for an overview of data observability vs data quality:

AspectData QualityData Observability
ObjectiveIdentify inconsistencies and errors in data sets and maintain and enhance the attributes to improve the overall quality of data. Promptly detect data deviations and anomalies, prevent data outages, and help design data management strategies that align with business objectives.
Role in Data ManagementIt measures how well the data meets the organization’s requirements in terms of accuracy, completeness, timeliness, and relevance. It monitors the entire data pipeline and processes in real time. It facilitates prompt resolution of data issues, thereby maintaining data health. 
Use and PurposeIt ensures that the data adheres to the predefined standards and aligns with business objectives so that it can be used for decision-making and analysis. It gives insights into the data’s health and performance and facilitates prompt issue detection and resolution to ensure smooth data processes.
Execution TimingIt occurs during data profiling, data validation, and data transformation. It happens in real-time. It continuously monitors data pipelines.
Impact of TechnologyAutomation streamlines these processes while also removing the scope of error.It enables implementation of data observability processes on large datasets, while also maintaining the data quality.

Relationship of Data Observability and Data Quality Using Modern Data Engineering Techniques

In modern data engineering, the foundation for optimized solutions is built by data observability and data quality. When they leverage modern data engineering techniques, their processes are carried out better. Ultimately, it all leads to improved data management. Let us understand this further.

1. Root Cause Analysis and Data Integrity

Root cause analysis is a critical practice that is implemented by both—data quality and data observability. In data quality, root cause analysis helps in identifying the reasons behind inaccuracies and inconsistencies. In contrast, in data observability, root cause analysis helps in identifying the source of anomalies. These insights contribute to maintaining the data integrity. 

For instance, in healthcare, maintenance of data integrity is a must for accuracy in patient care and treatment analysis. 

2. Data Pipeline and Management

Data management systems like Hevo leverage modern data engineering techniques to provide data observability in their pipelines. This ensures complete visibility as the data flows through the pipeline.

Additionally, it also helps in maintaining data quality through its checksum features. Hevo’s checksum feature assesses the integrity of data files before and after file transfer as well as in backups. 

Together, data observability and data quality ensure that consistency and reliability is maintained in all stages of data processing. It is thus data stacks that benefit the most from this. 

3. Real-Time Monitoring and Proactive Issue Detection

These are important processes to ensure data integrity. Data quality is often carried out through batch-based processes, which fail to detect immediate issues. Data observability undertakes real-time monitoring to fill this gap, thereby enabling instantaneous identification of discrepancies and anomalies. This ensures that issues are resolved before they escalate, thereby enhancing data quality. Such data is trustworthy and assists in accurate decision-making. 

For instance, in manufacturing, real-time monitoring ensures the timely detection of raw material inventory discrepancies and work-in-progress inventory discrepancies. This enables the organization to undertake corrective measures which helps in minimizing losses and optimizing supply chain operations. 

4. Shared Accuracy

In the model of shared accuracy, the focus lies on the collaboration between data observability and data quality. Both these data assurance techniques revolve around the maintenance of the accuracy and trustworthiness of data throughout its lifecycle.

While data quality ensures the health of intrinsic attributes of data, data observability supports its process by actively monitoring data flows and processes in real time.

This highlights the symbiotic relationship of both these processes while also providing data that leads to improved decision-making and analysis across various domains. 

Implementing Effective Data Observability and Data Quality Practices

To implement effective data observability and data quality practices, your organization must adopt a systematic approach that is a blend of technical expertise, cross-functional collaboration, and strategic alignment.

The six steps for implementing effective data observability and data quality practices are:

1. Assessment and Strategy

To begin, understand how data observability and data quality initiatives will help the organization in improving operational efficiency, decision-making, and innovation. Then, align these initiatives with the organization’s strategic objectives.

Also, identify the datasets that are critical for ensuring smooth operations and decision-making in the organization. Lastly, identify measurable metrics and KPIs to give you insights into the performance of these initiatives. 

2. Technical Infrastructure

Establish the technical infrastructure for these initiatives through the selection of data quality tools that will help in data profiling, cleansing, validating, and monitoring of the data stack. Also, choosedata observability tools that will give real-time insights into data pipelines and processes.

While making these choices, ensure that these tools are automated and will integrate seamlessly with the existing infrastructure. 

3. Data Profiling and Cleansing 

To understand the characteristics of your data and identify the anomalies present, undertaking data profiling is a must. The results from the same will help in performing effective data cleansing.

However, what is important here is to develop data cleansing processes and workflows based on the issues identified. The best way to carry out this step is by automating these routines, as this will ensure data accuracy. 

4. Real-Time Monitoring and Alert

To show the data health and quality, identify indicators like completeness percentage, accuracy rates, and consistency. Additionally, it is vital to set up real-time monitoring tools that will track data processes continuously.

Lastly, have an automatic notification and alert system for when data quality issues or anomalies are detected. These will ensure proactive issue resolution and prompt responses.

5. Collaboration and Training 

Make a cross-functional team of data scientists, data engineers, data practitioners, data analysts, and business stakeholders to increase the effectiveness of the data quality and data observability initiatives. Also, conduct training sessions to educate relevant employees about data observability and data quality practices.

Lastly, establish communication channels for reporting insights and issues. This will ensure that data-related concerns are addressed promptly. 

6. Continuous Improvement

To assess the effectiveness of these initiatives, conduct regular audits. Then based on the insights gathered, refine the data management processes and strategies further.

Additionally, continuously refine your data observability and data quality practices based on the feedback received and lessons learned. This will help in adapting to evolving business requirements and data challenges. 

Blending Data Observability and Data Quality in Businesses

In today’s data-driven landscape, businesses must combine data observability and data quality to maximize their dataset’s impact. Advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning automate tasks like root cause analysis and anomaly detection.

This is made possible because, with machine learning, past data is studied and learned to identify common patterns, features, anomalies, and tasks. The machine learning algorithms are then used by artificial intelligence to analyze large volumes of data and derive analysis. These advances have led to faster root cause analysis as well as anomaly detection. Integrating data quality and observability tools with cloud platforms provides essential scalability and flexibility to businesses. 

Hevo highlights the critical role of modern data engineering in optimizing data observability and quality across industries. Hevo is an ETL platform that simplifies data integration and management. Hevo Data is a consistent and reliable no-code data pipeline solution that manages data transfer between various sources with just a few clicks. 

It supports integration with 150+ data sources (including 40+ free sources). This allows you to export data from your desired sources, load it to their destination, and transform and enrich it to make it ready for analysis. In fact, with the use of Hevo’s in-built REST API and Webhooks Connector, you will also be able to integrate data from non-native sources. 

Hevo has built-in features of data observability that give complete visibility of your data pipelines and their health. It also has data quality features that ensure the data integrity of transferred and transformed data. Thus, with Hevo you get the guarantee of 100% data accuracy, 99.9% uptime, and timely system alerts. Hevo also prioritizes data security with end-to-end encryption and secure connections. 

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Conclusion

When it comes to achieving excellence in data management, data observability and data quality stand as foundation pillars. While data quality guarantees the integrity of data attributes, data observability monitors them in real-time to sustain their quality. 

Embracing both concepts empowers organizations to enhance their data-driven strategies, make informed decisions, and navigate the dynamic world with confidence and agility. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are data observability and data quality best practices?

Continuous monitoring, real-time data anomaly detection, and swift issue resolution are the best practices of data observability. In contrast, the best practices for data quality are undertaking regular data profiling, cleansing, validation, and setting up of measurable KPIs for tracking performance. 

2. What are data quality and data observability tools?

Some examples of data quality tools are Talend Data Quality, Informatica Data Quality, and IBM InfoSphere QualityStage. Similarly, some examples of data observability tools are integrate.io, Monte Carlo, Acceldata, and Bigeye. Data management tools like Hevo facilitate automated data integration and monitoring capabilities which thus aids with data observability and data quality initiatives. 

3. What is the difference between a data quality tool and an ETL tool? Can an ETL tool also act as a data quality tool?

Data quality tools are responsible for validating the data and therefore ensuring its accuracy. In contrast, ETL tools are associated with the extraction, transformation, and loading of data. ETL tools like Informatica and Talend offer some data quality features like data profiling and cleansing. Thus, they merge several functionalities of both tools into one. 

4. What are the applicable modern data engineering approaches?

Some of the modern data engineering approaches that can be adopted for improved data quality and data observability are:

  • Adoption of cloud platforms like Azure and AWS to get scalability and advanced analytics. 
  • Adopting techniques like real-time processing and serverless computing for efficiently handling large volumes of data and getting actionable insights. 
Sarthak Bhardwaj
Customer Experience Engineer, Hevo

Sarthak brings two years of expertise in JDBC, MongoDB, REST API, and AWS, playing a pivotal role in Hevo's triumph through adept problem-solving and superior issue management.

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