Organizations have relied on data to make decisions since time immemorial. However, the importance of data has grown exponentially in recent decades with the great leaps made in technology. Today, organizations’ decision-making process is highly dependent on timely, accurate, and accessible data. How this data is stored is, therefore, a matter of critical importance.
Poor data storage systems inhibit swift decision making, which is crucial in enhancing the competitive edge of a business. On the other hand, proper data storage makes it possible for real-time access to on-demand data resulting in an entity reaping immense competitive advantages. An operative data strategy is therefore needed to unlock records for the good of the entire organization.
So, what is Siloed Data?
Any information held in isolation and only available to a distributed team in an organization is known as siloed data. Siloed data poses several challenges to the wellbeing of an organization.
First, organizational culture bred by siloed data involves enticing a group of individuals in a company to guard some valuable data. This breeds a negative competitive culture as the group becomes possessive of useful information.
Secondly, technology disconnect is prevalent in a siloed data ecosystem with IT units having to deal with disconnected systems and setups. Finally, business structure can be affected by data silos with IT managers finding it hard to decipher client data from numerous sources. Siloed data end up affecting client experiences.
Why Retain Data Silos?
Some organizations may still consider retaining siloed data for several ends. Here are a few of them.
Security and legality are some of the reasons you might decide to have data silos. A firm might control data access on a department or a hierarchy level due to regulatory and legal concerns. In such instances, data access is granted to a particular unit or authorized individuals with specific certifications or expertise.
Organizations holding sensitive information such as commercial dealings, trade secrets, or intellectual property rights may also consider a siloed data approach. This ensures that data is properly safeguarded from unauthorized access, internally and externally, for business reasons. Leakage or loss of the data may have serious ramifications on business competitiveness.
What Are the Consequences of Siloed Data Across an Entity?
Every department or unit in an organization produces unique information. This information might provide useful insights into another department. Siloed data makes it difficult for departments to make the most of these insights to the detriment of the entire entity. For instance, the customer service department could be holding vital data about clients’ likes and dislikes, information that the sales unit might need to improve marketing strategies. Such crucial customer insights will be lost if the sales department cannot access the information.
Consolidating data silos might be hard with multiple information spread across an entity. Data duplication is common, with each unit operating almost independently. The workforce is also disoriented with contradictory data emanating from the same organization. Making evidence-based decisions in such an environment becomes a ponderous process. Consequently, the organization ends up wasting time and valuable resources, fixing non-existent problems, or creating new ones where none existed.
What Are the Biggest Challenges Organizations Face in Consolidating their Siloed Data?
Information produced and used by organizations daily keeps growing daily. The growth leads to the creation of more data repositories and data silos down the road. Businesses with many different silos face serious vulnerabilities in their systems and workflow. Consolidation becomes a nightmare, and the sustainability of the business faces imminent threats.
Staff retaining a lot of information on their computers and related devices make it more difficult to access such data. On the other hand, auditing the huge volumes of data in a company is expensive, and so is introducing and implementing a repository solution and data management system.
Two business leaders, Wil Buchanan and Scott Gallupe, weigh in on the major challenge businesses face when consolidating siloed data. Here is what they have to say.
Wil Buchanan, President of Philantech3 Consulting Group, observes that companies need to identify the right information to include in their consolidation plans. The most important data ought to be given priority over other data through a stack rank approach. Missing this important steps might lead to loss of competitive advantage. He states;
“With the often exhausting pace of commerce today, business leaders need timely and accurate data to be competitive. When we have data that is siloed in different applications, we lose a competitive advantage.”
Scott Gallupe, 403Tech Inc. President, advises organizations to record their exact data storage locations, especially archive and production information. He alludes that;
“As Cloud data becomes more widely accepted for storing the company’s core data, it becomes ever more challenging to track where it resides. Companies like Amazon’s AWS, Microsoft’s Sharepoint Online, and Google Cloud are all economical options to store client data, but managing the data across all data centers is a task.”
Most importantly, Gallupe reminds companies about the importance of having different storage for different files. Organizations ought to come up with plans outlining when the data will get archived and for what duration. He further recommends data centers set in the U.S or Canada for entities facing data sovereignty problems.
Are There Risks Involved in Siloed Data Consolidation Process?
Data consolidation is not without its fair share of risks. These include:
- The merging process makes information available to all staff, even those without legal authority or lower in the hierarchy.
- Loss of data is likely to happen as business leaders fail to distinguish which data to retain or discard.
- Insufficient planning when implementing data management models leading to complex and expensive projects.
How Can MSPs Help Customers Deal with Siloed Data?
Given the huge impact of siloed data in an organization, it is prudent to hire managed service providers (MSPs) to help you deal with siloed data challenges. For instance, MSPs will enable you to establish integrated software, select an all-inclusive solution to unify data management, and help you identify applications with native integration.