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Breaking Down Data Silos: Unify Your Business Data

Breaking down data silos can be difficult; businesses are handling greater amounts of data than ever before.

In fact, for many businesses, the data they hold may be their most valuable asset with many estimates putting a price on different forms of data.

With more data comes more complex management to be able to effectively handle and utilize that data.

In addition, many businesses have not adequately planned to manage the massive amount of data that they hold.

This leads to the creation of data silos which can sap productivity, lead to increased costs, and generally hold a business back from its true potential.

What Is a Data Silo and How Do They Occur?

Data silos are groups of data that are held under control by a single person or department, inaccessible by others within an organization.

How they occur is a much more complicated explanation.

In some cases, data silos may be entirely intentional, but for most companies this is rare.

There may be some forms of data that are only meant to be accessed by certain people or teams due to sensitivity of the data or how the data is meant to be used.

87% of organizations have low analytics and business intelligence maturity, meaning data isn’t being utilized

An example of this may be in a regulated business like a health care provider where a small group of people are only meant to be able to access and manipulate private patient data.

However, unintended data silos can occur as well. These generally arise because different departments use different software solutions or processes to manage the data.

This creates a barrier between departments and may cause delays, inefficiencies, and frustration.

Why Are Data Silos a Problem?

So data silos have formed within an organization; what’s the big deal?

The truth is that data silos can be a massive hinderance to the growth and effective operation of a business.

If certain teams within a business cannot easily access the data needed it can lead to lower productivity and increased costs as inefficient workaround solutions are developed.

Customer service can be affected by data silos as well. If a team member needs to reach out to someone else on another team in order to complete a task then this can cause a delay.

On the customer side, this leads to nothing more than wasted time and frustration.

They don’t have an inside look into the operations of the business so they can’t understand why these challenges are occurring.

All the customer knows is that they aren’t getting the service they expect.

Data silos can even cause issues with employee morale and retention. No one likes to work in a job where they feel like processes out of their control are holding them back from doing their best work.

This is especially true if they have to answer to someone, like a customer, as the face of the company.

Employees can only endure so much before they simply choose to move on and take their experience with them.

The Big Picture

Data silos tend to be focused on smaller areas of operation but they are part of a larger picture.

Identifying and breaking down data silos needs to be an important goal of any digital transformation effort for businesses.

At a micro level, data silos cause inefficiency for team members.

Data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, 6 times as likely to retain customers, and 19 times as likely to be profitable as a result

At a macro level, these data silos are splitting up organizations and preventing the most efficient operation possible.

Breaking down data silos is about more than just the data silos themselves.

The larger picture relates to the overall adaptability and change the mentality of the business. By targeting data silos, management is making a commitment to become more efficient and embracing change.

That mentality should trickle down throughout the organization and lead to overall better productivity or, at the very least, a better attitude toward change and digital transformation.

By taking a step back and analyzing process, businesses can identify data silos as well as the other issues that may be causing friction within the organization.

Data silos are symptoms of a greater issue that needs to be addressed for businesses to succeed.

Breaking Down Data Silos

The first step to breaking down data silos is to adopt a standardized data model for the entire company.

Simply put, if different departments are working with different models and software solutions, then data silos will begin to grow as the amount of data within departments increases in isolation.

69% of CFOs said that keeping information siloed in departments is the biggest or most common financial mistake that companies make today

This could include adopting new workflow tools and implementing automation where appropriate.

Next, new data policies and controls need to be adopted.

Not everyone can access and work with every piece of data within the company.

However, creating these policies can help identify the silos that need to be broken down and which ones must remain in order to ensure the integrity of the business.

Communication is also key to helping eliminate data silos.

Adopting digital communications, making inter-department communication easier, and even implementing regular company newsletters can all help to break down these silos and increase productivity between departments.

Finally, data needs to be accessible. This is where things like cloud adoption comes into play.

If data cannot be accessed by all users at all times from all locations then data silos will continue to exist despite all best efforts to eliminate the other causes of data silos forming.

The Takeaways

  • Data silos can cause reduced productivity, poor customer service, and decreased employee retention
  • Breaking down data silos is just one part of the bigger picture of digital transformation
  • Communication is key to increased success and the complete elimination of unnecessary data silos

 

The right tools are available to help businesses take the next step forward. Data silos don’t have to hold back your business. To learn more about breaking down data silos in your organization, contact the experts at Impact today.