Clear communication within your company is important. Clear communication with your clients is vital. If you are operating in a “data silo” you are muddying the communication both internally and externally.

But are you operating a data silo? You may not even understand the question. It’s not exactly a common term, after all.

Data silos cripple your business’ ability to understand your clients. So what is a data silo and how can you beat it?

What is a Data Silo?

A data silo is a lot like an actual silo from a farm.

Farm silos are built to hold barley, wheat, and any other grain to keep them dry. More importantly, though, they were used to keep them separated to prevent the spreading of any potential infection.

Picture your digital systems and even your different departments as these silos. Each has incredible amounts of useful information in databases that other departments aren’t able to access. We see “silo mentality” in almost every organization and 97% of executives agree, it’s bad for business.

For example, the average small business uses 14.3 different systems, each with its own information.

How do they get there in the first place?

A lot of reasons, frankly, and not all are bad.

Some are put in place for needed security. Extending access unnecessarily can bring with it the additional risk of a data breach. This was the case with Nashville Metro Public Health when an information security error led to patient information being exposed by one or more of their 500 employees. Data Silos might be necessary to protect sensitive information.

Others that are more common and detrimental to business are built due to technical restrictions in one-sided software. In this case, a lack of access hinders the productivity of your team and can make it difficult to meet client expectation.

In the case of marketing departments, silos can segment information gathered from email campaigns and restrict it from impacting social campaigns to maximize ROI.

So how can I beat “silo mentality”?

The first thing necessary to eliminate data silos is a top-down initiative. Everyone from executives down to IT staff needs to be onboard with an organizational effort to integrate data.

Data silos prevail without a useful and intuitive enterprise integration system in place. File sharing allows open access to information. Adding this type of system to your information structure allows the system to be more flexible, having a wider variety of features when integrating programs.

Remove your limitations

Data silos limit your companies ability to know your customer but they also limit your companies ability to know itself. They don’t empower those with the information but bottleneck progress on your most necessary tasks.

Odds are you are operating a data silo. The question is: what are you going to do about it?

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