Get started

Data Decoded: Unlocking Business Value with Databricks

Data Decoded: Unlocking Business Value with Databricks

Organizations are increasingly relying on robust platforms like Databricks to streamline their data processes. Normalizing raw data to create data marts is a critical step for enhancing data analytics, ensuring consistency, and improving accessibility. This blog post explores the process of transforming raw data into structured, ready-to-use data in data marts or any other read-optimized data models, called the Gold layer in Databricks' medallion architecture.


Introduction to Data Normalization

Data is often described as the new oil, driving decisions, innovations, and operational efficiencies across industries. However, just like crude oil must be refined to be useful, raw data requires significant processing to be valuable. Data normalization is a fundamental process that restructures data to reduce redundancy and complexity. This not only streamlines querying and improves data consistency but also plays a crucial role in mitigating data-related problems that can severely impact business operations.


The Importance of Data Quality

Poor data quality is a pervasive issue in many organizations and can manifest in numerous ways, such as inaccurate, incomplete, or inconsistent data. The consequences of low-quality data are far-reaching:


Ineffective Decision-Making: Decisions based on incorrect or incomplete data can lead to misdirected strategies, wasted resources, and lost opportunities. In a high-stakes business environment, the impact of these decisions can be catastrophic, affecting everything from marketing strategies to financial forecasting.


Operational Inefficiencies: When data is not normalized, it can lead to redundancies that increase storage requirements and complicate data management. This inefficiency not only increases operational costs but also slows down data processing, affecting response times and service delivery.


Compliance Risks: In regulated industries, such as finance and healthcare, poor data quality can result in non-compliance penalties. Mismanaged or erroneous data can fail to meet legal standards, leading to significant fines and damage to reputation.


Customer Dissatisfaction: Data errors can lead directly to issues such as incorrect billing, poor customer service, and ineffective personalization strategies. Such mistakes erode customer trust and can lead to churn.


The Role of Data Normalization

Normalization addresses these issues by organizing data,minimizing duplication and promoting a single source of truth:


Reducing Redundancy: By eliminating duplicate data across multiple databases, normalization reduces storage costs and simplifies data management.


Improving Data Integrity: Structured relational tables strengthen data integrity by clearly defining relationships between data points. This helps maintain accuracy across different uses and interpretations.


Facilitating Easier Maintenance: Updates, deletions, and insertions are more straightforward with normalized data because changes made in one table propagate through the rest of the database via defined relationships, preventing inconsistencies.


Enhancing Security: Normalized data is easier to secure, as it allows for more granular control over access to data. This is particularly important in environments where data sensitivity varies significantly across different datasets.


Normalization is not just a technical process but a strategic approach to data management that underpins robust data governance.


Databricks' Paradigm of Data Organization

Databricks is an all-encompassing enterprise-level data platform suitable for all kinds of use cases, and typically organized in three layers, with a special place given to the "Silver" or normal layer.


Data Lakehouse Architecture from Databricks


Why Normalize Data in Databricks?

The normalization of data within Databricks offers significant advantages for businesses aiming to leverage their data assets effectively. Here’s a deeper look into the benefits:


Efficiency: Normalization reduces data redundancy by ensuring that each piece of data is stored only once. This not only minimizes the amount of storage needed but also speeds up data retrieval processes. In environments like Databricks, which handle massive volumes of data, this can lead to substantial cost savings and performance improvements.


Consistency: Ensuring data consistency is important for effective analytics. Normalized data helps maintain accuracy across different parts of the organization by providing a single, coherent view of data. This consistency is crucial when multiple teams within an organization rely on the same data for various analytical purposes.


Scalability: As organizations grow, so does their data. Normalized data structures are easier to scale because they are less complex and more organized. Databricks facilitates scalability through its managed services, which can dynamically adjust resources based on the demand of normalized data operations.


Data Integrity: Normalization enforces data integrity by maintaining relationships through foreign keys. This means data across different tables remains accurate and consistent, reducing errors that could occur when data is duplicated across multiple places.

Simplified Maintenance: With data normalization, updating the dataset in one place updates it across all applications. This simplifies maintenance and error correction, making Databricks an ideal platform for managing such operations due to its integrated and user-friendly environment.


Step-by-Step Guide to Normalizing Raw Data

Step 1: Understanding Your Data

The first step in the normalization process is to thoroughly understand the data you are dealing with. This involves:

  • Data Profiling: Examine the raw data to understand its structure, quality, and existing anomalies.
  • Identifying Key Elements: Determine the primary keys and relationships within your data.

Step 2: Data Cleaning

Before you can normalize your data, it must be cleaned. This step involves:

  • Removing Duplicates: Ensure that your data does not contain duplicate records.
  • Correcting Errors: Identify and correct errors in the data, such as misspellings or incorrect data entries.
  • Handling Missing Values: Decide how to deal with missing data, whether by imputing values or omitting them.

Step 3: Structuring the Data

Structuring involves defining how your data will be organized. This includes:

  • Defining Schemas: Create a schema that outlines the structure of your data marts, including tables and relationships.
  • Applying Normalization Rules: Use normalization rules (Forte recommends using 3rd-Normal Form-like or Data Vault-like models) to organize the data into tables that reduce redundancy and dependency.

Step 4: Implementing in Databricks

Databricks provides a variety of tools and functionalities to facilitate the normalization process:

  • Using Databricks Notebooks: Write and execute code in a collaborative environment using languages like Python, SQL or Scala.
  • Leveraging Delta Lake: Utilize Delta Lake to manage and version your data effectively during transformations.
  • Automating Workflows: Automate data transformation workflows using Databricks jobs and pipelines.

Step 5: Creating the “Golden Layer”

After normalization, the next step is to create a more denormalized and read-optimized layer for data models with fewer joins, like data marts or data science sandboxes:

  • Designing the Golden Layer: Tailor the model to address the unique needs of each business unit or analytical question.
  • Data Loading: Apply data transformations to the normalized data to achieve the final format.
  • Optimization: Optimize the model for faster query processing.


Best Practices for Data Normalization in Databricks

When normalizing data in Databricks, adhering to best practices not only ensures efficient data management but also optimizes performance and security. Here are some recommended approaches:


Regular Audits: Regularly auditing your data and normalization processes helps ensure they continue to meet your business's evolving needs and comply with industry standards. In Databricks, you can automate these audits using built-in monitoring tools, which help track performance and identify anomalies.


Security and Compliance: Data security and compliance are critical, especially with regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA. In Databricks, you can use features like Unity Catalog to manage data governance across all data assets, ensuring access control and data privacy are maintained.


Continuous Monitoring: Implement continuous monitoring to quickly detect and rectify any issues with data quality or processing anomalies. Databricks’ real-time monitoring capabilities allow for immediate insights into the operational health of your data pipelines, helping to maintain the integrity of your data normalization processes.


Use of Automation: Automating as many steps as possible in the data normalization process can significantly reduce the likelihood of human error and increase the efficiency of data operations. Databricks supports various automation tools, including workflows and triggers, to streamline these processes.


Collaboration Across Teams: Encourage collaboration across different teams (data engineers, data scientists, and business analysts) to ensure that the normalization process aligns with the needs of all stakeholders. Databricks workspaces and notebooks support collaborative workflows, making it easier for teams to work together on data normalization projects.


Documentation and Version Control: Maintain thorough documentation of your data normalization processes, schemas, and any changes made. Utilize Databricks’ support for version control with Delta Lake, which allows you to track versions of datasets and revert to previous states if necessary.


By following these best practices, organizations can enhance their data normalization efforts in Databricks, leading to more reliable data analysis and better decision-making capabilities.



The normalization of raw data in Databricks is a strategic imperative for businesses aiming to harness the power of their data assets effectively. By organizing data into structured, efficient formats, companies can reduce complexities, minimize errors, and ensure a high level of data integrity, which is crucial for making informed decisions.


As enterprises continue to generate vast amounts of data, the challenges associated with managing this data increase. Without normalization, data can become a cumbersome asset, bogged down by inaccuracies and inefficiencies that not only consume resources but also lead to significant business losses. Normalized data, on the other hand, ensures that businesses can remain agile, responsive, and competitive in a data-driven world.


At Forte, our commitment to delivering value is paramount. This commitment led us to partner with Databricks, enhancing our ability to provide top-tier services. This partnership empowers us to offer our clients benefits designed to meet their business objectives more effectively and affordably. With Forte and Databricks, enterprises gain access to exceptional solutions that drive success while optimizing data operations and costs.

You may also like...

The future of data governance and beyond

Data Mesh 2.0 and Web3: The Future of Data Governance and Beyond

2 min By Lucas Hendrich
AI coding assistants can improve developer productivity

Research Studies Show: AI Coding Assistants Can Improve Developer Productivity

3 min By Lucas Hendrich
More Insights