data-silos

Data strategy: how to break down data silos?

June 8, 2021

Whether it comes from Product life cycles, marketing, or customer relations, data is omnipresent in the daily life of a company. Customers, suppliers, employees, partners… they all collect, analyze and exploit data in their own way.

The risk: the appearance of silos! Let’s discover why your data is siloed and how to put an end to it.

A company is made up of different professions that coordinate their actions to impose themselves on their market and generate profit. Each of these professions fulfill specific missions and collect data. Marketing, sales, customer success teams, communication…all of these entities act on a daily basis and base their actions on their own data.

The problem is that, over the course of his or her career, a customer will generate a certain amount of information. 

A simple lead, then becomes a prospect , who then becomes a customer…the same person may have different taxonomies based on which part of the business is analyzing this data.

This reality is what we call a data silo. In other words, data is poorly or never shared and therefore too often untapped. 

In a study by IDC entitled “The Data-Forward Enterprise” published in December 2020, 46% of French companies forecast a 40% annual growth in the volume of data to be processed over the next two years. 

Nearly 8 out of 10 companies consider data governance to be essential. However, only 11% of them believe they are getting the most out of their data. The most common reason for this is data silos.

 

What are the major consequences of data silos?

Among the frequent problems linked to data silos, we find first and foremost the problem of duplicated data. Since data is used blindly by the business, what could be more natural?

These duplicates have unfortunate consequences. They distort the knowledge you can have of your products or your customers. This biased, imperfect information often leads to imprecise or even erroneous decisions.

Duplicated data also take up unnecessary space on your servers. Storage space that represents an additional cost for your company! Beyond the impact of data silos on your company’s decisions, strategies, or finances, there is also the organizational deficit.

When your data is in silos, your teams can’t collaborate effectively because they don’t even know they’re mining the same soil! 

At a time where collective intelligence is a cardinal value, this is undoubtedly the most harmful event caused by data silos.   

 

Why does your company suffer from data silos?

There are many causes for siloed data. Most often, they are associated with the history of your information systems. Over the years, these systems were built as a patchwork for business applications that were not always designed with interoperability in mind. 

Moreover, a company is like a living organism. It welcomes new employees when others leave. In everyday life, spreading data culture throughout the workforce is a challenge! Finally, there is the place of data in the key processes of organizations. 

Today data is central. But when you go back 5 to 10 years ago, it was much less so. Now that you know that you are suffering from data silos, you need to take action. 

How do you get rid of data silos?

To get started on the road to eradicating data silos, you need to proceed methodically.

Start by recognizing that the process will inevitably take some time. The prerequisite is a creating a detailed mapping of all your databases and information systems. These can be produced by different tools and solutions such as emails, CRMs, various spreadsheets, financial documents, customer invoices, etc.

It is also necessary to start by identifying all your data sources in order to centralize them in a unique repository. To do this, you can for example create gaps between the silos by using specific connectors, also called APIs. The second option is to implement a platform on your information system that will centralize all the data

Working as a data aggregator, this platform will also consolidate data by tracking duplicates and keeping the most recent information. A Data Catalog Solution will prevent the reappearance of data silos once deployed. 

But beware, data quality, optimized circulation between departments, and coordinated use of data to improve performance is also a human project!

Sharing best practices, training, raising awareness – in a word, creating a data culture within the company – will be the key to eradicating data silos once and for all.

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At Zeenea, we work hard to create a data fluent world by providing our customers with the tools and services that allow enterprises to be data driven.

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