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Four Ground Rules to Successfully Breaking Down Data Silos

 
June 3, 2016

Data across the enterprise are typically stored in the silos of different business divisions. Data is often further segmented by services, products, and functions. These data silos make it impossible for enterprises to share the consistent, comprehensive customer intelligence and insights across their organizations needed to deliver superior, differentiated customer experiences.

The benefits of breaking downdata silos are well established. Some of the main benefits include:

  • More relevant, personalized services based on complete customer profile
  • Better decision making based on all the data
  • Increased agility to respond quickly to market changes
  • Improved productivity, reduced costs

While the benefits are clear, many organizations are struggling to break down data silos. In fact, according to a CompTIA survey, eight in ten organizations report high or moderate degrees of data silos – collections of data that have grown across the organization or within specific departments which are not connected in a cohesive plan. In addition, only 31% report they are able to provide a complete single customer view, which means valuable customer data is not fully integrated.
The challenges data silos present are also well documented. They include customer disconnects and insular thinking and make it difficult for organizations to respond quickly to change. There is also a great deal of redundancy and suboptimal decision-making when a complete view of the customer experience is not available. Its much like the parable about the blind men and the elephantwithout all the information, it is impossible to gain a complete understanding of what is being observed. Here are just a few things you can lose because of siloed data:

  • People have incomplete information, which limits productivity and hampers innovation
  • Its harder to collaborate because youre not working with the same data and youre only seeing the world from your point of view
  • Customers see redundancy and confusion, such as being called on by two salespeople from different divisions
  • You cant move as fast as your competitors because it takes too long to get data for decision making
  • Sales and margins take a hit due to operational inefficiencies

So, what will it take to break down data silos?

  • Leadership support is essential. Silo-busting cant be done from inside a silo.
  • Drive culture changes where you reward collaboration and data sharing efforts.
  • Review new technology decisions from a data sharing point of view.
  • Invest in cloud-based technology solutions at the platform, database and application levels.

This kind of change is not easy, as Machiavelli so eloquently expressed:

It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success nor dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order, this lukewarm-ness arising partly from fear of their adversaries, who have the laws in their favor, and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who does not truly believe in anything new until they have had experience of it. Nicolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)

The benefits of breaking down data silos, however, are well worth the effort. Its time to start building your case to win over those who profit by the old order along with the lukewarm defenders who would profit by the new order and plan to reap the benefits the complete view of your customers can provide.

Kathleen Holm is Marketing Director of the TCS Digital Software & Solutions (DS&S) Group. She has more than 25 years of experience marketing technology software and services to enterprises worldwide. She leverages her extensive background in enterprise software technology to help organizations develop effective marketing strategies, create targeted messaging and positioning, and implement effective go-to-market plans to improve corporate performance. Prior to joining TCS, Kathleen was a Senior Principal of technical product marketing for Oracle Fusion Middleware where she was responsible for defining the marketing strategy based on industry maturity and customer trends. She also held positions at IBM including Market Manager for WebSphere Developer Programs, Market Manager for Tivoli Integrated Service Management and Tivoli Brand Specialist. Prior to joining IBM, Kathleen worked with four high-tech startups.