4 reasons why data silos are dangerous to ignore

Person holding a bright pink unhappy face

Does your organisation have data silos? Have you been wondering whether they’re harmful to your organisation or not, and how you might be able to eliminate them?

Getting rid of data silos can make a big difference to an organisation but first we need to understand what they are and how they can be dangerous to ignore. Let’s first make sure that we know what a data silo is.

What is a data silo?

In simple terms a data silo is a set of isolated data that is difficult to discover or re-use by another service or team. Data silos can form for a number of different reasons which can be technical, structural, economic or emotional.

Data silos can form when data is held in different ways by different business units in a large organisation or is stored in a way that makes it difficult to access or read and interpret by data tools. They can also form when data is hoarded by teams who are worried about its use by others or don’t understand its impact on the wider organisation.

Data silos are easily formed and are often ignored but they can limit the effectiveness of an organisation and create barriers between teams and throughout a business. When an organisation is able to fully leverage all of the data and information they have, all operations, processes and decision-making becomes much more effective, powerful and impactful.

There are many reasons why data silos can be quite dangerous to ignore:

1. The right data is hard to find

If data is spread across multiple teams in an organisation, then knowing where to find what can be really challenging. It can take a lot of time to collect and gather the data that’s needed and then whilst doing that, it will also be difficult to know how accurate the data is and whose data is the most up to date. What this means is that the decisions being made could be based on old data that is out of date and thus no longer relevant.

2. Lack of team collaboration and communication

With different teams using their own pools of data separately, they can miss out on opportunities to work together and to pool all of the data together. The bigger picture and the potential that you can get from having all of the data points in one place is lost.

Data silos can also widen the gap between departments, leading to the feeling of organisational fragmentation.

3. Duplication and inefficient storage of data

Having data silos results in the duplication in data and work. It means that anyone wanting to use the same set of data ends up with their own copy of it somewhere and this leads to much confusion, inaccuracies and also the use of storage space in multiple places unnecessarily!

If separate departments store data in different ways, most likely across various applications, this further isolates information from others and also adds additional processes and costs for each department to deal with.

4. Data sharing becomes limited

Data silos prevent data from being shared effectively. If data is stored in multiple locations and applications then it becomes really hard to share it across these different places. Different applications often do not work well together and usually each department will only have a view to what they each have and thus have no idea what might need to be shared or not.

In summary, if your organisation has lots of data silos, compiling data, finding it, analysing it and ensuring its accuracy for good decision-making becomes tricky. Collaboration across teams and data sharing becomes limited and inefficient. Collaborative culture is not nurtured or developed. Resources are also wasted when the same information is stored in multiple places. Overall, data silos can be detrimental to any organisation’s success.

Therefore, it is really important to find ways to break down these data silos. Hopefully this article offers some insight into why we all need to take data silos seriously and find ways to prevent them. In a future post, we will cover how data silos can be discovered and broken down. In the meantime, if you need help with your organisation’s data challenges, get in contact with us at Register Dynamics and we would be more than happy to help!