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 Data silos occur accidentally (or through outdated processes), a result of different departments using various information systems that while meeting the departmental needs trap information.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.
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.
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.”
- 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.
- 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.
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!