Data Silos: What are they and how to get rid of them?
Data – a driving force for decision-making
Staying competitive is no longer based on intuition or beliefs. Organizations, keenly aware of this new paradigm, must continuously collect, store, and analyze qualitative and quantitative information needed to succeed in a data-driven economy. To keep up, many have adopted various solutions to manage data about different customer lifecycle phases or even specific engagement types. This strategy, driven by how organizations are structured and budgetary decisions get done, often leads to a fragmented and disconnected data platform ecosystem. As the complexity of a platform ecosystem and the volume of data grow, managing it all becomes increasingly difficult. Businesses need more innovative ways to manage their data and ensure it is accessible throughout the organization.
What is a Data Silo?
A data silo is a collection of data accessible by one department but isolated from the rest of the organization. This separation results in a lack of transparency, efficiency, and trust within that organization. Data silos can act as a blocker for decision-making, affecting a company’s growth and team productivity. In most cases, data silos can also result in resource-draining as organizations pay extra for data storage.
Data silos aren’t always prominent, but there are common indicators when they exist:
Lack of cooperation between departments
Team members unsure where to find the right information
Checking several places before finding the correct data
Costs for data platforms storing like or duplicate information
Lack of transparency in department performance
Duplicate data across the organization
Data not matching up across business tools
As barriers begin to form between departments, data sharing and collaboration become increasingly complex, resulting in data inconsistency and reduced quality.
Why do Data Silos Occur?
Through the technology lens, data silos frequently occur because of platform proliferation and poorly integrated legacy systems. Most legacy systems weren’t designed for sharing data, resulting in disconnected processes and data storage.
Within a typical organization, different departments historically created and managed their data. Teams collected and analyzed data depending on their specific needs. Over time, as departments lacked cross-communication, data silos began to form, leaving data often inaccessible or unused. However, big data and cloud computing revolutionized the way businesses operate. The concept of centralized data storage with unified access capabilities is on the rise.
Organizational culture is almost dependent on organizational structure. When leadership treats departments like separate business units with different goals and processes, they are less likely to expect unified data across the organization. Some companies don’t support information sharing due to hierarchies and layers of management. Data silos can even emerge unintentionally simply because one of the teams doesn’t understand how the others can benefit from the data.
How to Get Rid of Data Silos?
Most likely, your organization has more data than you realize, located within various disparate platforms. Integrating those systems eliminates data silos and allows you to have a complete picture of your data. You’ll no longer have to worry about duplicated data because they’ll automatically update.
Data Management Systems
Streamlining your data is a crucial step. To do so, you need to identify the processes and systems that are contributing to your company’s data silos. Ideally, your organization should move to a centralized data management system, with flexible assignable and re-assignable user permissions and the ability to generate meaningful reports.
Embracing a culture of openness, communication, and transparency with the support of cross-departmental work diminishes data silos. Look for ways to increase the flow of communication between departments and develop roadmaps for business units to safely use data to achieve goals.
Sort out outdated data
Going through years and years of outdated, isolated data can be a tedious task. However, to create a data management system that is usable, you want to ensure that all the data is current and accurate.
As organizations grow, their data grows even more, making data silos a threat. To maintain a competitive edge, harness a collaborative company culture, maintain integrated and centralized systems, and maximize the use of data across the organization.
If you have any questions about strategies or platforms that can eliminate data silos, please don’t hesitate to reach out for a no-cost, no-commitment consultation, and a member of our team will contact you shortly.