WDNI Blog: The Towering Truth

By James Young

Enterprises hold and analyze a tremendous amount of data. Much of it through organic means from the time of start-up. Later, by inorganic means via M&A activity.  I have been intimately involved in numerous ERP, CRM and CMS implementations over the years – as well as dozens of custom development attempts after a “normalization” of data. It rarely ever works like the organization requires – we won’t begin to talk about timelines (thank goodness for Agile and Scrum). You would often end up conceding to scope creep, abandoning the migration plan, determining a roll-out date for the system and the now “legacy” database is on-the-clock for “lookups” as a repository.

That was then, this is now – and there may be a better way. Single Source of Truth (SSoT) allows access to all your data to be aggregated to a single location. From there you get to select all the versions of the documents, legal instruments, emails, etc. that you need. The challenge with this is, particularly if you run a cell tower leasing organization, there are so many variations of the web of documents that make up the leasing process that sometimes you have to pick what “truth” to accept. Add in a handful of acquisitions and now you have to (1) make sure you have all the legal instruments related to the sale (e.g. Sale-Leaseback or TTA), (2) make sure you have full sets of MLAs, Amendments, SLAs and associated documents and (3) deal with what the “intent” of the language at the time of negotiation and execution. It can get complex fast.

As for SSoT, I often propose that the term itself is a misnomer, especially when applying it to the cell tower leasing industry. Given the vast number of legal instruments involved in leasing property, closing a MLA, constructing a site, getting tenants on that site AND keeping tenants on that site – there is really no SINGLE, there exists only the Source of Truth – made up of all the different legal instruments and associated components that serve to support the revenue reported. Yet, I digress… As the SINGLE component of the acronym is very important. It simply means the SINGLE place to find all that data you own. And I’m fine with that as SSoT has been described by many experts as less of a “thing to implement” and more a state of digital being to be achieved.

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