All business is, to some extent, a data-driven endeavour. Whether it be marketing, planning, or customer service, knowledge is power. Your company needs a system for effectively managing data. One of the great enemies of a good system is data silos.
What are Data Silos?
As your business develops, it gathers more and more data. Each department may have their own way of managing the data they gather and use. Data silos occur when each department of a business stores data separately. This makes this data inaccessible to other parts of the business.
It’s not unusual for this to happen. Your HR department will often use types of data that your marketing team may never need. Each department needs certain data to do their work. It would never occur to them that the data could be valuable to any other department.
What’s The Problem?
Data is valuable to a business. Your department heads know this so they gather and store lots of data. They use it to achieve their business goals. This becomes problematic when data is locked away in each department. Let’s examine some of the problems that stem from data silos.
Data Silos Are Inefficient
Data storage and processing comes with a cost. If departments manage their own data independently of everyone else, it amplifies costs.
Various departments may be holding duplicate data. That’s a waste of resources. Data quality is more important than quantity. Duplicate data just takes up space.
Data Silos Make It Harder to Collaborate
Data silos create departmental bubbles. If each part of your business is working from their own set of facts, they come to different conclusions. It makes it harder for teams to come in with fresh insights if they can’t access the same data. Collaboration is made possible through the sharing of information.
For example, your legal department ensures all aspects of your business are legally compliant. Data silos put up walls between departments. If your legal department had ready access to your finance department’s data it would make drawing up a SOX controls list far less challenging.
Data Silos Lead to Inaccuracies
Duplicate data is inefficient, as we’ve covered. There’s another risk with duplicate siloed data. Some parts of your business may need to update data more often than others. That means one piece of data may be correct in one department, but wrong in another.
An example of this would be if customer services spoke to a customer about a change of address. That data could be of use to your marketing team. If data is siloed, then marketing will have outdated information.
Data Silos Are a Security Risk
Data silos are a nightmare for cybersecurity. If each department holds their data in different ways, there’s far more likelihood of a breach. Your cybersecurity team will be less effective if they have to deal with a variety of platforms and technology.
Should Your Business Get Rid of Them?
Absolutely yes! You need to leverage consumer data for business growth. You’re missing out on some great opportunities if you don’t. Let’s look at a few of them.
The world of social media provides many tools for pin-point targeted marketing. It’s the best way to get your messages in front of the right eyes. To succeed, you have to have the best data.
With a unified data pool, your marketing team will be able to access data from all your other departments. The key to good targeted marketing is personally identifiable data. If customer services have updated any information, that is visible to marketing too.
Marketers can also gain insights from usage data. Imagine your company sells business telecommunications solutions. Perhaps a client often runs close to maxing out their usage allowance. Marketing could target the client and persuade them to upgrade their small business office phone system.
Another way to improve your marketing would be to pull data from website for the purpose of assessing your SEO performance and ranking, and to observe any mentions of your brand or the industry as a whole, amongt several other benefits.
Better Customer Service
Your customer service reps have to deal with a wide variety of issues. Sometimes those conversations are simple, other times they’re not. When data is siloed, service reps may need to arrange a call back to get the relevant data from another department. This is not efficient or good customer service.
A unified data access point will provide your team members with all the data they need to resolve customer queries. With the information at their fingertips, they can do so quickly.
Simplified Data Consent Process
There are many rules and regulations around data use and consumers are increasingly wary of how their data is used. Data silos make for a needlessly complicated consent process. They also increase the risk of non-compliance.
You can ensure good practice with a single company-wide data management system. It makes it easier to manage if a customer wishes to withdraw consent. Otherwise, you’ll require a time-consuming tour of multiple departments’ systems to ensure compliance.
Increased Interdepartmental Collaboration
Some problems are best solved with a new perspective. Eliminate data silos and you’ll find your departments will be able to collaborate more. That’s because they can all access the same data. Each department can better see their role in delivering your business’s goals.
Losing data silos leads to a more organized business. Projects are better managed. Decisions are made based on accurate information. Teams work together to achieve what must be achieved.
How to Rid Your Business of Data Silos
Use a Unified Data Platform
A unified data platform is cloud-based data management software. You pay a service provider to hold and manage your data remotely. All your departments will have access to a single source of business data.
There are several benefits to using a data platform. Following are just a few of them.
- It reduces the risk of outdated or inaccurate data.
- Updated data is automatically available to everyone with access.
- Backend software management is the responsibility of the provider.
- It reduces cybersecurity risk by eliminating multiple data storage systems.
Invest Time and Effort Into Organizing Old Data
This is an unenviable task, for sure. It’s also a necessary one. You’re going to have to trawl through the old systems. Remove any redundant, duplicated, or unusable data. Ideally, this should be completed prior to migrating to the new platform.
Foster a Collaborative Working Environment
You’ll need to get your teams used to working more closely together. With data silos gone, you’ll have the building blocks of a more collaborative work environment. It doesn’t end there, however. You need your departments to talk more to each other.
There are a number of applications that can help. Apps like Bitrix24 provide a suite of tools to help your teams communicate. There are platforms with VoIP, video conferencing, and data sharing capabilities all built in.
No More Silos
Data silos leave each of your departments isolated. This leads to inefficiency, disorganization, and poor collaboration. Get rid of data silos from your business now. It’ll help your teams work together towards success.