The global pandemic and the move to remote and hybrid workplaces have highlighted the importance of connections in an increasingly disconnected world. While the traditional office setting has become dispersed, business leaders must still connect everyone and everything within their organization. They must connect not only systems, data, and applications to each other, but also to their employees, customers, and partners while continuing to conduct business as usual no matter where anyone is located.
Easy, right? It could be.
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However, these new connection challenges are made worse by even larger challenges in the business landscape – supply chain disruptions, workforce skill disparities, and evolving technology, just to name a few. Now throw all of an organization’s data and their attributed data silos into the mix, and the so-called “connected world” we seek is suddenly chaotic, disruptive, and disconnected. Unified, accessible, high-quality data is important to an organization’s top and bottom lines. Siloed data creates barriers and makes it almost impossible for teams across departments to collaborate, making it difficult to get the job done.
How to Break Down Data Silos
Siloed data can become out-of-sync data over time, creating headaches that could have been alleviated by breaking down the silos to begin with. While many organizations are made up of individual departments, ultimately they must fit together like pieces of a puzzle to get products out the door. This isn’t always possible with data silos blocking the entry and exit of those doorways.
Siloed data hurts an organization, costing them big time and creating inefficiencies along the way. Often data silos cause processes to be run multiple times to ensure accuracy, slowing down business operations. Visibility becomes an issue as well, as no one knows where the correct data is or if it even exists. And, visibility can affect critical decision-makers as they search for the correct data to use. It’s a never-ending cycle – with data everywhere.
Many businesses believe the solution is to add multiple application programming interfaces (APIs) and an electronic data interchange (EDI) system to their technology stack. But, unbeknownst to them, this can simply create more data silos. Yes, both systems do different things and address different business needs; however, gaining a high-level overview of the data within each and being able to compare it across systems can be difficult. The solution to the original solution is an EDI system that is integrated with APIs. This allows organizations to simplify processes, giving them visibility over data flows from vendors, suppliers, distributors, partners, and marketplaces. It’s a win-win for all.
Data Lakes Don’t Always Translate to High-Quality Data
In a perfect world, there would be no silos to begin with – high quality and true data visibility would be available at the touch of a button. The reality is that there is always going to be some kind of disparity. However, breaking down and decreasing organizational data silos can lessen the blow.
Organizations can centralize data via a data lake or data warehouse model, which offers a strong foundation for data management. However, this isn’t the end-all be-all solution either. A high quantity of centralized data doesn’t always translate to high-quality data. When considering today’s distributed workforce, organizations should focus on delivering integrated experiences – combining data readiness, pervasive connectivity, and user engagement to connect everyone to everything – and increasing automation to break down the data silos.
Low Code to the Rescue
Most of today’s businesses are on silo overload. Think about it. Departments within an organization are usually siloed, and then the different technology platforms they use create their own silos. Then, there are the customers, partners, and suppliers, which are potentially three different silos. Social media applications and mobile devices with custom apps and databases create even more data silos on top of the ones already in play. These technologies and applications that make our lives so much easier in some ways are, in other ways, erecting more barriers that we must climb over.
Low-code, cloud-native technologies can help. They have the capability to take disparate data silos and quickly and easily integrate them via intelligent connectivity and automation services. Adding artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automation further speeds the process, enabling organizations to identify patterns and create smarter automations that can evolve and change on-the-fly – something known as hyperautomation.
By leveraging intelligent automation, businesses can eliminate silos and establish secure, seamless, and up-to-date data. They can also use hyperautomation to create standardized processes for preparing and cleansing data and build workflows and user engagement mechanisms to automate other business processes. The new connected data can then be used by business leaders to extract valuable insights from across the business’ entire digital ecosystem.
Say Goodbye to Data Silos
Eliminating data silos is an ongoing journey, but once the process has been started, it’s important to keep the momentum going. Business leaders should use change management best practices and communicate with employees the many benefits of data sharing and data integrity. Highlight how it benefits the company and them by streamlining processes and delivering better outcomes.
We all get comfortable and stuck in our ways. That’s likely how these data silos came into existence in the first place. Once an organization has centralized its data, connected all of its disparate silos, and won the buy-in of employees, it can concentrate on the real issues at hand: solving problems and creating solutions for its customers.