Before BI tools became commonplace, data was inefficient. One of the most annoying things data used to do was get trapped within different departments of the same organization, without any communication between them. This is a problem known as data siloing, and modern BI tools were supposed to stop it. But it seems the rumors of data siloing’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
Experts in the BI space have started to warn of a dire problem - it seems data siloing is back from the dead. Many large companies are starting to find that data from one part of their organization isn’t reaching other parts, even when that data is essential. At a small scale, this is mostly just an annoyance, but as a business approaches enterprise scale, the problem compounds to the point where no one can do their job effectively.
Modern BI tools, with their emphasis on being able to access your data from anywhere, anytime, have long been sold as a solution to the data siloing problem. For most, they are; data siloing is a far more common problem among companies that don’t use organization-wide BI software. But still, companies are finding that data isn’t getting where it needs to go.
So why are data silos coming back? There are a few clear reasons.
- Software that one department uses may not integrate well with the software suite of another department.
- Integrations may exist, but employees with little software knowledge may not know how to use them effectively.
- Rapid growth may lead to departments using software that’s better suited for a smaller organization long after it’s outlived its usefulness
- Company culture may disincentivize or be outright hostile to communication and collaboration.
If your organization is running into problems with data silos, one of these reasons is most likely to blame. So then, how do businesses fix data silos that already exist and prevent others from forming in the future? First, companies should make sure that valuable tools like BI software are being used to their fullest extent company-wide. Many data silos are a result of departments stuck in the past who are unable or unwilling to properly utilize modern BI tools. It’s essential to make sure everyone in your organization is using these tools, because BI tools can’t help solve the problems of people who don’t use them.
Second, prefer software that has robust integration. Data silos are often the result of departments using software that can’t communicate well. Along the same theme, make sure the people who are responsible for transferring this data actually know what they’re doing. A badly implemented integration is almost as bad as no integration at all.
Lastly, take an honest look at your company’s communication channels and corporate culture. Data siloing is a common problem among startups that haven’t taken the time to build out clear and defined communication channels after rapid growth. It also can be a symptom of a poor culture that’s harsh towards collaboration. Software can’t talk to each other if people don’t talk to each other.
Data siloing is coming back, but it’s not the software that’s failing us. More than anything, data silos are a sign that a company is having issues with internal communication. BI tools won’t prevent data silos everywhere everytime, but they’re an important first line of defense.