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November 20, 2017
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Break Down the Walls! How to Unsilo Your Data

By April Rassa, VP Marketing, Progressly

Data silos have become the scourge of the 21st century. Besides the costs of eventually having to undo them, having data separated in various databases and programs rather than fully integrated also significantly hinders efficiency and productivity.

When your company's data lives in separate, non-communicating systems, you are hampering your company's ability to get the most out of your information and to use it for things such as operational insights and transparency. You're also creating extra work, because when it comes time to actually put the data to use, you find that the only way to share knowledge with other departments is via manual, inefficient methods such a spreadsheets, e-mail, or chat.

To solve the data problem, you need fluid, adaptable processes and a unified system of records that provides complete transparency and accountability while promoting collaboration and allowing secure access.

Here are the five main things companies can implement to better manage and use their data:

1. Question the Status Quo

The first step to unsiloing your data is asking the hard questions as to why you're using a particular system in the first place and gauging how well it's working for you. Consider the following questions:

  • How do your different systems use their data?
  • How old is the data?
  • Who created the storage system for that data?

Quite often, leadership changes occur without system changes, and when a company has gone through a certain number of leaders, they suddenly realize their systems are in dire need of updates.

2. Streamline Operations via Paperless Data Collection

Getting your data off of isolated systems, including paper, and getting your data away from time-sapping, manual-based processes is absolutely key. Manual processes, such as spreadsheets, are incredibly time-consuming and also create work redundancy when inter-departmental access becomes impossible. In going digital, you are immediately putting your data in a much better position to be analyzed, cross-referenced, and hence used to streamline efficiency and create the kind of transformative insights that only data sharing can create.

3. Find Ways to Work More Flexibly, Openly, and Collaboratively

A big part of improving the way you store and manage your data actually doesn't have to do with your data, but with your people. When you create an atmosphere of inter-departmental cooperation and collaboration, you set the stage to unsilo your data. As teams meld and share goals and create cross-functional initiatives, they will need to be able to use each other's data to achieve these initiatives, which means breaking down those data silos.

4. Champion Digital Inclusion Inside and Outside the Organization

Also on the people side is championing digital inclusion throughout the organization, including on the part of your customers and your supply-chain vendors. A change in systems should be seen as a holistic endeavor. You can't change one part without changing the rest. When you embark on your mission to release data silos, make sure your vendors are aware of what you're planning to do and equip them with their knowledge and awareness of information separation so that they will be able to keep up with the new pace you will create from going digital and unsiloing your data.

5. Get Rid of Legacy Systems

Old systems can become obsolete really fast. But what's even scarier is when they don't become obsolete—when they continue to drag the rest of your organization down simply because that's the way you've been doing things and that's way things run the smoothest. Free employees of legacy systems or work streams that limit the way they consume and respond to business change. Take risks on newer technologies and roll them out in a phased approach to ensure employee adoption and curtail fears of change or transformation. When you're willing to break the mold, your options increase exponentially, and you equip your company with the ability to protect itself from digital disrupters.

Unsiloed Data Is Powerful Data

The most important thing to remember is that, when you unsilo your data, you empower it. You free it up for analysis and the creation of powerful insights, such as discovering faster and more efficient ways to deliver services, scaling up or down with minimal impact, adjusting to emerging business needs as they're happening, improving the safety of your work environment, providing better customer experiences, and boosting your bottom line.

About the Author

April Rassa leads product marketing and growth at Progressly, the world's first Cloud-based Operational Performance Management solution. Rassa has more than 15 years of management experience across various industries and is a strong advocate for the overall customer experience.

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