While it’s becoming the norm for today’s organizations to be data-driven, companies still have their challenges around data. Before there was a lack of information analysis, now tackling complex data management is causing the problem, as data silos affect organizations in numerous ways.
What is a data silo?
A data silo is a block of information accessible to one part of an organization and not to the others. They can fastly hinder business growth both inside and outside the company, from employee productivity issues to customer experience conflicts.
The sources of data silos and their effects on the workforce
Data silos usually form because the departments of the organization get so large, the everyday contact between them disappears, so does the flow of information. In many cases, there’s no technology implemented to help, and there might be a difference in how well employees are trained in using technology for better data management.
According to Harvard Business Review (HBR), today, 80% of work involves acquiring and preparing data. The silos can specifically drive up that 80% making organization initiatives nearly impossible, shutting down plans of improving productivity.
When data silos are present, even if employees start searching and handling the needed data, they will likely experience any of the following, according to Hubspot:
- The slow organization: with the lack of automation in place that streamlines data across teams, data becomes isolated, so it’s harder to get to it or by the time they have it, it can already be outdated
- The storage problem: when finally finding data in the system of data silos, an employee’s common practice is to save it for any future needs, so the more employees an organization has, the more storage space gets wasted.
HBR points out that alongside the structural problems, political conflicts might be the source of data silos, as well when teams guard the data and information they have, not willing to share it with other groups. This is both a cause and a consequence. It won’t benefit transparency, collaboration, and trust-building in a company. When the technology (and cultural) system in place doesn’t move these blocks, it further generates a negative workforce behavior.
The C-level problems caused by data silos
Executives are no exception from the effects of data silos. Deloitte’s global survey of more than 2000 C-suite executives reported that one-third of leaders ranked organizational or geographical silos among their top three challenges. Those whose companies struggle with silos were even “less likely to say that their technology investments have achieved or exceeded their intended business outcomes.”
60% of leaders also reported that their knowledge was concentrated in a few individuals or groups, not being distributed, and 41% said they didn’t have the proper information to know what skill sets their workforce would need in the future.
A Salesforce-Forrester Consulting study concluded that 57% of business leaders believe that data is coming from too many sources to make sense of it easily. The silos negatively impact the quality of customer and prospect experiences.
Data silos won’t allow leaders to see the big picture and deprives them of successful decision making.
How data silos affect the image and judgment of your company
Data silos create segmented organizations, also affecting how the company is viewed by its clients and customers. The lack of proper data management, which is “only” a productivity issue inside the organization, can easily turn into customer dissatisfaction and negative judgment of the company.
If you have separate working departments, from support to sales, from marketing to billing, they all interact with customers through their processes, without having the information held by the others. Without an automotive process sharing data between them, such as RPA software, customers might find themselves in a situation where they, in fact, know everything about their problem.
Still, the company offering the service cannot see the whole picture, let alone help them. According to Emarketer, near 40% of marketers struggle with this, as the silos of data remain inaccessible across the organization.
Furthermore, when data is kept in silos, the information is not updated automatically, resulting in inexact and unusable data. When you think about how data is one of the most critical assets of a company, and that automated data management can increase the value of an organization, you’ll be quickly in favor of implementing processes that help break down the silos.
Solutions to break down data silos
There are several people- and technology-related solutions for breaking down data silos, including:
- Creating and nurturing a more collaborative company culture
- Sorting out outdated data (even with the prospect of employee awards)
- Starting using an integration software, an all-in-one platform or applications with native integrations for data management
Creating a collaborative culture at work can mean focusing on diversity and inclusion, whether through launching dedicated company programs or allowing employees to initiate their own or organizing company events. Hubspot even has a Culture Code that goes into detail about what values are appreciated, how they thrive on recruiting and keeping people on board accordingly, and how they work together so that every employee feels they are the right fit.
When it comes to going through years of data, it’s worth noting that it really is a necessity before creating or implementing a data management system since you want to use data that is up-to-date.
In most cases, this is a significant task and usually not one employee can run away from it, so it might be a good idea to announce some kind of reward for them in the end, and always showcasing why it is essential that they help in the process and how it will benefit them later, as well.
Finally, comes the technology. Interestingly, while 90% of executives, who use data analytics, noticed it improved their ability to deliver a superior customer experience (Emarketer), still 87% of organizations have low analytics and business intelligence maturity, which means that they don’t utilize their data (Gartner). The research company suggests, too, to consider integrated analytics platforms to remedy the problem. One of them is robotic process automation (RPA).
An automation management tool, like ElectroNeek’s Automation Hub, helps with identifying automation opportunities in a company, such as controlling automotive repetitive tasks. It gives specific suggestions on how each process can be improved.
Data silos are never an asset to a company. They slow down the flow of information or even block it, causing organizational and political conflicts within the workforce, and they make it harder for executives to bring clearly educated decisions. Furthermore, all this can result in customer dissatisfaction and negative judgment of the company, which is not easy to turn over for an organization today.
An automated data management technology is always an efficient solution that can eliminate all data silos and all their negative effects.
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