How to Get Rid of Data Silos
As the name suggests, a data silo is a set of data only accessible to one department or team in an organization. To some extent, data silos are unavoidable. Each department accumulates data pertaining to its responsibilities, focusing on its particular roles and information to deliver results. Without silos, organizations can’t divide and conquer tasks to achieve business goals.
However, the American Management Association found that 97% of executives believe data silos have a negative impact on enterprise performance. At what point do data silos stop facilitating smooth operations and start disrupting business growth?
This is the question we’re exploring in today’s post. Below, we explain how data silos can impede manufacturing and distribution success. We also illustrate how enterprise software solutions and management strategies are working to tear down barriers to information.
Data Silos: The Problems
Modern manufacturers and distributors are increasingly working towards becoming connected enterprises and making data more accessible. That’s because they realize that overly isolated data contributes to several costly problems, including:
- Limited Visibility: Data silos make it impossible to gain a 360-degree view of your enterprise. Without a complete understanding of business processes, users can’t detect issues or capitalize on opportunities to improve strategies.
- Lack of Collaboration: Rather than work together, teams stick to their own data and their own objectives. This prevents employees from banding together to pursue common goals. It even breeds distrust, as teams preserve their own data and inhibit interdepartmental transparency.
- Inefficiency: Let’s say a sales rep needs access to inventory status for a customer, or an accountant needs to evaluate costs and requirements across the company to draft a budget. Rather than instantly pull up necessary data to accomplish these tasks, they must search around for information. Plus, by the time the data is in hand, it might already be out of date. With data silos, information isn’t readily available, resulting in these inefficiencies.
- Inaccuracy: Data silos also impact data integrity. With multiple versions of the same data in one organization, how do you know which information is up-to-date and reliable? Plus, data that sits around in silos becomes outdated and unusable. Multiple sets of the same data can also throw off reporting and analysis to diminish your insights.
- Wasted Storage Space: When departments store the same data or complementary data in multiple locations, they waste substantial storage space. Why waste money storing information across several platforms when you can collect your data in the same place and allow multiple users to leverage this information to improve their processes?
- Poor Decision Making: Bottom line, all these issues impede effective decision making. Teams rely on their limited, faulty datasets rather than work across departments to share their insights and collectively pursue business goals. Furthermore, insufficient access to data slows down the decision-making process.
Data Silos: The Solutions
Data silos primarily result from technical barriers. Legacy software platforms lack the flexibility to sync data and manage multiple processes across the organization. But company culture also reinforces silos. Businesses with an overly competitive environment are more likely to become protective of their data and distrust other departments. This results in a silo mentality, in which teams don’t share their information or priorities. Additionally, businesses can develop data silos after expanding to new locations or implementing more software applications.
To get rid of data silos and solve business issues, you must solve the sources of the problems by improving your company culture and enterprise technology:
- Collaboration: Breaking down silos involves creating a more collaborative business environment. This can be done through multiple methods. Regular enterprise-wide meetings or phone conferences give employees the opportunity to learn what is going on throughout the company and gain new ideas for improving strategies. Enterprise collaboration networks and apps can also encourage users to quickly ask for ideas and information across departments. Team-building and social events give employees throughout the company an opportunity to get to know each other. The key is to facilitate open communication throughout locations and departments.
- Systems Integration: One of the most effective solutions to combat data silos is systems integration. Syncing data between your software applications enables users across your enterprise to gain real-time data at their fingertips. Remember the sales rep and accountant that couldn’t quickly locate data to fulfill their duties? With an integration, they have immediate access to front-office and back-office information to answer their questions and serve customers. Integrating your software will make your data more available and accurate to streamline processes.
- Data Warehouse: Storing information from multiple sources in a single data warehouse can also tear down silos. It’s common for manufacturers and distributors to collect large datasets in their ERP solutions but put together reports in other systems, such as Excel or Microsoft Power BI. A data warehouse can maintain information in one place and allow users to use third-party tools to report against large ERP datasets. This functionality makes data easily available for users from the top floor to the shop floor.
When data silos go unchecked, they can make your data useless and jeopardize your enterprise. Fortunately, modern software solutions prioritize data accessibility and collaboration. With the right company culture and the right technology, you can prevent data silos from stunting your business growth.
Datix, one of the largest Epicor partners in North America, provides a variety of solutions to help you get the most from your data. In addition to ERP, CRM and eCommerce implementations, we also offer Unity, our premier integration platform. Unity is a pre-built solution designed to seamlessly integrate Epicor with a range of systems to promote greater visibility and efficiency. Additionally, Jet Analytics for Epicor ERP serves as a data warehouse, BI and reporting tool that enables users to easily report against ERP data through Excel or Microsoft Power BI.
Let Datix help you break down silos and work as a unified front. Contact one of our software experts today!