You Won’t Believe How Data Silos Are Killing Your Business

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More than 80% of marketers say that data silos within marketing obscure a seamless view of campaigns and customers. That’s just one department within an organization suffering at the hand of data silos. Data silos negatively affect everybody, from IT to sales.

A data silo is a repository under the control of a particular division or department. In a data silo, data is isolated from the remainder of the organization. Silos are often found in large organizations, although they can occur in small or medium sized organizations as well. Each department needs to use their own data to meet their own goals and responsibilities. This means that data often doesn’t get shared with others in the organization. Data silos occur accidentally (or through outdated processes), a result of different departments using various information systems that while meeting the departmental needs trap information. Thus, the trapped information is kept away from other parts of the organization.

You spend so much time, effort and resources ensuring that your organization has great data. If you have all your data in a single readily accessible location you can do so much with it. Great data allows you to:

  • Improve efficiency and success in customer acquisition
  • Improve your capacity to make informed decision
  • Streamline processes
  • Increase productivity

Having access to high-quality data allows your business to increase revenue by making better decisions due to the insight provided from analyzing the data. Having yet-to-be analyzed data, while seemingly innocent, can have negative consequences for the organization, both today and in the future.

Issues Today

The fact that data cannot freely move to where it’s most needed forces people to duplicate the data, mostly through imports and exports. This leads to manual data manipulation by employees who need to move the data to another system. Then all of a sudden, we are stuck with duplicate data that has been manipulated by hand in some systems while remaining easily accessible in its original form elsewhere. Any time you start changing or cleaning up the data before moving it to another system, you are asking for trouble. Errors and wasted time are often a consequence.

By not properly handling and analyzing the data that your organization collects, you are leaving room for mistakes to be made and for opportunities to be missed. Often times there will be waste in multiple departments because data is not shared between them. These mistakes and missed opportunities will arise, either because the decision-maker does not have the data available to them, or the decision-makers do have the data, but due to an error during manual manipulation of the data, it is inaccurate.

Companies continue to utilize a wider variety of services, both internal and third-party, for different aspects of their business. The average small-business is now using 14.3 different systems. We are seeing more segmentation of data within these silos, with less interaction between them. This results in poor communication between departments, systems, and processes, leading to unproductivity and difficulty meeting both your clients’ needs and company’s business goals.

Issues Tomorrow

In the future, as machine learning and other predictive technologies fully infiltrate your industry, you will be left behind if you have not yet dealt with the issue of data being trapped within silos. In order to be fully effective, any artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning programs must have access to the entirety of your firm’s unmanipulated data. The AI or machine learning program needs to analyze the data for any relationships between categories and cannot do that if the data is not in one comprehensive database.

Low-end machine learning solutions will soon be able to make better conclusions about relationships in your data than you will. You need to make an investment to consolidate your information into one system before it’s too late. If you don’t, you are missing out on valuable insights that can benefit your business. Your information management system needs to meet the individual goals of each department as well as the organization as a whole.

By having a restricted flow of data organizations cannot possibly analyze all available (and already collected) data to draw broad, overarching conclusions about potential strengths, weaknesses, opportunities or threats. This restriction defeats the whole purpose of collecting the data in the first place, which is to get a holistic view of an organization by looking for relationships within the data.

So, what can you do about data silos?

To avoid having information trapped in data silos, you need to preemptively develop a plan and solution. There are several options you have to ensure your data can be easily moved. A content management system (CMS) will help collect and share information within your organization. Other solutions include marketing automation software, an integration platform, or a data lake.

Marketing Automation Software

Marketing automation software is defined by Hubspot as:

“Platforms and technologies designed for marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks.”

Integration Platform

  • An integration platform is a platform that allows an organization to integrate different applications and services into one solution.
  • While similar to an enterprise resource planning system (ERP), or a CMS, an integration platform is more generic, not designed for any specific purpose.
  • This allows the system to be more flexible, having a wider variety of features when integrating programs.

Data Lake

  • A data lake occurs when data is moved from separate silos into one system. This can be done using a variety of platforms or programs, such as a CMS or an integration platform.
  • While very flexible, these lakes are hard to govern, making them less useful than the above solutions.
  • Data lakes should only be created in absence of a CMS/ERP as a last case scenario.

An organization must ensure all departments are on the same page. The solution should have enough complexity for it to allow every department to accomplish their goals without massively changing their workflows. Data should not be “owned” by a department, it should be shared in an unaltered form with other departments.

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Existing data silos are preventing you from knowing your customer and limiting your ability to make informed decisions. There are many ways to avoid data silos, each solution unique to your business needs. Whichever method you use is of less importance than your main goal: eliminating silos so data can flow freely through your organization.

Do you notice issues with the flow of data through your organization? Do you think a CMS could potentially solve your data silo issues? Let us know what you think over on Twitter @VeridayHQ!

5 Ways to Increase Productivity Using Technology

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Do you ever feel that your business is not doing as well as it could? Are you scared to innovate and adopt new technologies? If so, you are holding your business back. There is nothing you can do to avoid slipping further and further from the top…. Except one thing:

Adopt technologies that will increase your team’s productivity.

There are many, ways your organization can increase productivity using technology. With the advances in computing, data management and automation, we are inching closer to the world that Star Trek envisioned 50 years ago. While we might not have Holodecks, instant transportation, or replicators, the technologies we do have can have a monumental impact on the world as we know it. Instead of focusing on distant, future technologies, let’s take a look at a few ways we could potentially be as productive as the crew of the Enterprise today.

Here are 5 aspects of your business that can be improved with technology solutions.

1. Access to Information

Providing employees access to the necessary information their job requires is an integral part of every business strategy. There are many reasons to ensure your employees have easy access to information. Imagine: you have a corporate intranet, but due to a network malfunction, nobody had access to it. Then, a very important customer calls, needing immediate confirmation of information within your system. What do you do? Tell the client you can’t give them the information because you don’t have it? That’s a bad look for your business.

To avoid that scenario, you need to invest in a more reliable network. This involves a multifaceted approach, investing in security measures, backing up data and constantly improving processes. Your network stability is one of the most important features ensuring your employees have access to essential information.

Access to information will also increase employee engagement and satisfaction. It is frustrating when you can’t access something that you know you need (say, at an offsite meeting, where a potential client asks for something offhand), but the system is not giving you access. Investing in a secure, high-quality VPN will ensure that no matter where your employees are, they have access to the network.

In addition to ensuring employees have the ability to access information around the clock, you can reduce frustration (and save time) by having all your systems in one secure location. They will no longer be bouncing between systems, trying to find the information they need. Everything they need to do their jobs will be right at their fingertips.

Your employees will be able to better service your customers, have an easier time being mobile and avoid frustration if you invest in technology that makes it easier to access information. Your customers will have a better experience and overall productivity will increase.

2. Availability Anytime (and Anywhere)

The knowledge economy is robust. Many jobs can be done from anywhere. Technology has allowed us to turn anywhere with Wifi into an impromptu office.  By investing in a VPN, you may allow employees to work from wherever they will be most comfortable, if you so choose. This can lead to a huge increase in productivity, simply because employees are more satisfied when given the option to work where they want.

Another way you can make your employees more accessible, regardless of where they are, is by not tying them down to a specific, company provided piece of hardware.

A popular policy regarding technological devices is: “Bring-your-own-device” (BYOD). BYOD enables your employees to use their own computers, phones or tablets for work. This will increase your employees familiarity with their devices, allowing for more efficient work. Employees are more likely to be productive if they have access to their own phone, tablet, or computer. 49% of employees say they are more productive using their own devices. People are also more likely to be able to successfully troubleshoot their own devices, reducing the amount of work IT needs to do. Added productivity, plus the savings from not having to purchase devices, makes this solution worth pursuing.

Technology can make employees more readily available is by offering a video conferencing solution for their phones and computers. This will reduce the amount of travelling needed for business purposes. A video conferencing solution can eliminate any offsite meetings. Travel is often expensive and inefficient. Simply by upgrading your video conferencing solution will increase your productivity, keeping people in the office, being productive.

3. Collaboration

A third method to increase productivity in the workplace using technology, is by boosting productivity with a collaboration suite or software. A collaboration suite, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, or G-Suite, are meant to provide an all-in-one environment where team members can discuss, plan and execute workflows. These programs have all the necessary tools in one place, where all relevant parties have access to them.

These tools can increase productivity in a number of ways. First and foremost, they help employees communicate about projects. Some people are uncomfortable speaking up in person, but in a chat-like environment, they will be less anxious about sharing their thoughts. Another way these collaboration suites can increase productivity are by minimizing meetings. Meetings are one of the biggest drains of time in business. 15% of an organization’s total time spent attending and preparing for meetings.

By introducing collaboration suites to your business, you can eliminate unnecessary meetings where an email (or short conversation) would suffice. You can save plenty of time (and money), while motivating employees to communicate more, even if that communication is online.

4. Customer Service

The fourth way you can increase your organization’s productivity is by linking your CRM solution to your employees devices. By giving your employees easy, automatic access (when needed) to customer information, it reduces time wasted searching for that information. This, in turn, increases customer satisfaction because they now have to wait less time to have their problem solved. Several methods to link your CRM to your network exist, through an intranet, a company portal or other custom solutions.

Over 60% of CMOs admit that they aren’t utilizing available data to its full potential. A CRM can change that. The more an employee knows about a customer, the better (and faster) they can solve their problem. This will naturally increase your productivity, with the added bonus of happier customers..

5. Long-Term Plan

Another way you can increase productivity using technology is by creating a long-term technological plan. Some businesses call it a roadmap, others call it an evolution. Simply the effects of having a succession plan for technologies in use can greatly increase productivity.

As hardware becomes obsolete, and software stops being maintained, technologies can quickly become useless. That’s why it’s important to have both a long-term and short-term plan for replacing and updating technologies.

The first benefit of planning a technology change is that it minimizes the chance that the change grinds everything to a standstill. People need to be trained on new machines, they need to get used to using them and the new machines take time to install. By planning out the change, you can begin to train people on the new technologies, implementing the solution piece-by-piece until it is fully in place. This planning and slow implementation ensures that if there are any issues, they can be sorted out before fully implementing the new solution. Having a long-term plan also raises employee excitement about the technology, as they have to wait for it to be slowly rolled out, creating a level of suspense.

If there is no succession plan in place, two things will happen:
  1. Hardware will begin to malfunction and lose its usefulness to your business before it gets replaced.
  2. When the change does come, it will involve forcing everybody on to new technology at the same time. If it does not work, your entire business will be impacted.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of ways you can use technology to increase your business’ productivity. The topics covered today are suggestions as to how you can use technology to make your business more productive.

What do you think of our list? What would you add to it? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ or connect with us on LinkedIn here.

INFOGRAPHIC: Work Day Productivity Hacks

As a digital marketing company, we are always interested in the latest and greatest applications that can help to optimize our workday and improve productivity. We all know the importance of having a positive attitude and a good balance between work, sleep, exercise, relaxation, socialization and winding down time; but sometimes it’s easier said than done.

Fear not!  We found this fantastic Infographic, courtesy of Hussle. It’s a great read on some excellent tools for time management, organization, exercise and more, that can help you to be more productive while also finding time to indulge in some much needed down time.  These 26 apps can help you to optimize your day, while also leaving time for ample amounts of Netflix.

Here’s Hussle’s ‘Work Day Productivity Hacks” infographic to help you supercharge your day!

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