Are Data Silos Eating Away at Your Productivity From the Inside?

Your data teams are talented, motivated, and hard working, and that’s awesome. But are data silos making things harder for them and wasting their valuable time?

Consider these findings in a study conducted by IDC:

  • Data workers spend 90% of their time on activities such as data searching, preparation, and analytics.
  • Searching for and preparing data are the most common activities for data teams.
  • On average, up to 7 different tools are used to perform data work.

The study’s final conclusion? Forty-four percent of time is being wasted every week because data workers are unsuccessful in their activities. Much of this can be blamed on data silos. When you identify and minimize these silos, your data teams work much more efficiently.

What is a Data Silo?

Data silos are self-contained systems or databases that don’t easily integrate with other systems. Access to the data in a silo may be limited or difficult for a variety of reasons.

Finance, administration, HR, marketing, sales, and other departments all use different (but related) information to get the job done. However, the marketing team’s data platform may be separate from what sales use. Plus, marketers may not have access to or can’t find their way around the system used by sales. This limits the insight marketers have on how their efforts impact sales (for example, what marketing tactics are a hit with the sales team this month).

What Causes Data Silos?

Silos are individual collections of partially overlapping but inconsistent data. As data continues to grow in quantity and diversity, the silos get even bigger and more difficult to penetrate and navigate. Business growth tends to produce silos. Why? Because growth leads to:

  • More employees who end up grouped in different departments & sub departments.
  • Lack of company wide communication strategy (not mapped out before growth occurs).
  • Large number of goals (each department may have a long list of separate goals).

What’s the Impact of Data Silos?

Beyond the communication failure, data silos lead to other problems, such as:

  • Isolated data within teams complicated by manual efforts and inefficient resource use.
  • Poor customer experience (the buyer’s journey) due to mixed messages and uncoordinated customer engagement.
  • No accurate, real-time data for business decisions.
  • Wasted storage space since multiple sets of the same data may be stored in different silos.

Data Silo Solutions

It’s common for each business department to have its own culture, focus, lingo, and database. However, modern business success depends on managing the company with improved organization-wide insight. Freeing up inter-departmental relationships enables more accurate identification of strengths and weaknesses, which may map out across several departments.

The silo effect is frequently exacerbated by technology. The lack of interoperability may even be built into some enterprise business solutions. Ironically, technology is also a key part of the cure.

Culture Shift

Part of the move towards more data sharing is leadership buy-in and talking about it. If the mindset of your organization doesn’t change, technical tactics will have a harder time finding traction. Explain to your teams, that if the silos aren't broken down, data integrity and the ability to be competitive are at stake.

Centralize your data

Data lakes are a cloud-based data storage space that can house massive amounts of data. New trends of implementing smaller groups of data in a data mesh also move your data centralization away from being a monolith. Still, just dumping your data into a lake or a mesh won’t fix the problem. You need to cleanse, analyze, interpret, and consolidate the data, then the access and use become easier. Even more, you can establish a single source of truth to eliminate conflicts, such as between budgeting vs. expenditure or overhead costs vs. accounting.

Implement Microservice Architecture

Silos are often the result of monolithic software that wasn’t designed to integrate it in the first place. By combining microservice architecture with an open-source software stack, you can free data from monolithic siloed systems. Plus, your business can evolve from a limited, desktop-centric system to more wide-open, mobile-ready engagement.

Microservices enables an application to be broken down into discrete standalone services that can be built, deployed, scaled, and maintained individually. This lets you develop a specific feature with little to no disruption to the rest of your stack.

With microservices, you establish more ownership, visibility, and control over your data. You can provide uniform, consolidated data to everyone in real-time. Also, with microservices, it’s easier to swap out integrations for other uses and future migrations.

Benefits of Fixing Data Silos

  • Create one source of truth
  • Consolidate data, get rid of outdated data
  • Create collaborative company culture
  • Reduce data costs
  • Iterate faster
  • Improve mobile expansibility

One final benefit deserves special mention. When your data is consolidated, it improves the implementation of machine learning. Any type of AI solution needs vast amounts of data to be effective. When the data is freed from silos, machine learning can get to it and put it to use faster, just like the rest of your teams.

Xerris specializes in establishing microservice architecture to free data from monolithic silos. We can help train your development team to do the work, or we can integrate directly into process flows to get your organization up to speed.