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Understanding the Problem of Data Silos (and How to Avoid Them)

Effective data management is a top priority for all of today’s businesses. Unfortunately, whether intentionally or accidentally, most companies end up creating what is known as “data silos.” These are essentially vast pools of data that are separated from each other and accessible only to a limited number of stakeholders.

At first, data silos can seem like a minor problem, or in certain situations, an asset. But all companies come to realize they create more setbacks than opportunities. And to meet the flexible demands of today’s markets they are completely inadequate. To help you better understand the nature of this problem as it applies to your business, learn what kind of disruptions data silos create and how you can avoid them:

Repetitions in the Data

There is some data that is totally unique to each department. However, much is consistent across the same departments. Since everyone needs access to this data, it ends up being stored multiple times. That simply eats up storage space and processing power, makes accurate data analysis harder, and slows down the process when users are looking for the most complete or current version of a file. A system where data is easily and widely shared helps prevent duplicates and redundancies from piling up.

Struggles with Search

apple-1867762_640Data silos make it a lot more complicated to find a specific piece of information. The first task is locating the silo that it’s likely to be in. The second is navigating search algorithms, file taxonomies, and data logic that can be completely different across silos. For examples of this problem, just think of any time you’ve needed to find a file but have been unsure where to look. Introducing universal search capabilities helps to connect users with specific data immediately. Databases such as Apache Cassandra can be integrated with search engines such as Elasticsearch, which make it easier to search even huge amounts of data.

Inconsistent Retention Policies

In order to comply with regulators, companies have to save specific data for a prescribed period of time. In order to thwart cyber criminals, companies must destroy or secure other pieces of data. This underscores how important a data management strategy is. Data silos make it much harder to monitor and manage data since they put up barriers to visibility and access. Breaking down these silos helps ensure that data is treated as importantly as it needs to be.

Limited Insights

Business intelligence and the strategies it leads to are only effective when decision making is based on a complete and accurate understanding of the data. Working with all the necessary information in a similar format with the most recent updates reflected is almost impossible to do when data silos are in place. The extra effort required to integrate figures from multiple departments makes mistakes, omissions, and distortions a common occurrence. At best, this approach is inefficient and slow. A unified collection of data provides immediate insights while allowing for more flexibility in how data informs business intelligence.

Widespread Incompatibilities


Your ultimate goal is to rely on as many capabilities through as few technologies as possible. Interoperability is basically mandatory for companies who want to keep IT issues in check while seizing the opportunities that things like IoT, enterprise resource planning (ERP) finance tools and machine learning create. Data silos are the direct enemy of interoperability, because they require each data pool to be managed differently. Linking them in meaningful ways is a persistent challenge because of the ingrained incompatibilities. Bringing all data together on one platform eliminates a lot of these conflicts while introducing new possibilities from enterprise-wide IT.

Solutions like enterprise resource planning for finance or manufacturing, along with tools for communication and collaboration have been specifically designed to dismantle data silos and integrate data in intuitive ways. Instead of segmenting data, these technologies treat it like a shared commodity. Administrators can set limits and controls, but otherwise all data is easily and intuitively accessible to all. This not only eliminates data silos, but makes it impossible for them to reoccur. Make it a priority to transform data management from an obstacle into an advantage. Take the time to learn your organization’s data silos and how they can be avoided today.

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