This is part of Solutions Review’s Premium Content Series, a collection of reviews written by industry experts in maturing software categories. In this presentation, Boomi’s Chief Innovation Officer, Ed Macosky, walks you through how to break down data silos by making connections.
Although we may feel like we live in an increasingly connected world, technology may actually be making us more disconnected; the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have further blurred the lines. With the near extinction of the traditional workplace, today’s business leaders face a new challenge: to connect the hybrid and remote workforce while continuing to work as usual. Organizational silos that once existed in the office are now exacerbated and new ones are emerging thanks to everything from supply chain disruptions to growing skills mismatches within our workforce and society. Then there’s the elephant in the room – data silos, which can kill digital transformation.
The cost of data silos
Siled data creates barriers to information sharing and cross-departmental collaboration. Silos can also hurt data quality when information stored in disparate databases becomes out of sync over time. This can negatively impact many departments if poor quality data crosses multiple silos. While individual departments in an organization can operate separately, they also need to be interconnected and work together, but this isn’t always possible if there are data silos that create barriers to collaboration.
Additionally, data silos can cost an organization dearly and create inefficiencies within a business. Rather than running a process, users are forced to run the same processes multiple times. For example, companies that use an application programming interface (API) and an electronic data interchange (EDI) system have ultimately created two data silos. While the two systems do different things and serve different business needs, getting a high-level overview of each other’s data and being able to compare it across systems is important to improve visibility across channels. supply. When systems and their data are siloed, it’s difficult. But when an EDI system is integrated with APIs, organizations can gain visibility into data flows from suppliers, distributors, partners, and marketplaces to simplify processes and trade smarter.
In short, disparate data across different applications slows down day-to-day business operations, causing visibility issues – no one knows where the data is or even if it is there. Silos also make it difficult for organizations to leverage their data to inform critical decision making.
Centralizing data is only the first step
Although the goal is to eliminate all data silos, this is often not a reality. Breaking down or reducing the number of silos within business units is a more realistic goal. Centralizing data through a data lake or data warehouse model is often the first step and provides a solid foundation for data management. However, this cannot be the end goal because having a large amount of centralized data does not necessarily translate to visibility or high quality data. Rather than thinking strictly in terms of centralizing data, in light of today’s distributed workforce, organizations should focus on delivering integrated experiences and increasing automation while by breaking down data silos.
Break down the silos
Customers, partners and suppliers are in a silo (or potentially three different silos); cloud platforms and software as a service (SaaS) are two others, then launch social media apps and mobile devices into a hybrid landscape with packaged and custom apps and databases – and the result final is often a big mess. The very technologies that promise to connect us are actually erecting new barriers.
With cloud-based low-code technologies, enterprises today have the ability to take disparate data silos and integrate them through intelligent connectivity and automation services. Adding artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automation can speed up the process, identify patterns, and create smarter automations that can scale and change on the fly – something is called hyper-automation. Businesses can then leverage this intelligent automation to break down silos and establish secure, transparent, and up-to-date information about every piece of data. They can also use it to create a standardized process for preparing and cleaning data, and create workflows and user engagement mechanisms to automate other business processes. Leaders can use the practice of hyper-automation and their now silo-free data to extract valuable insights from across the enterprise digital ecosystem.
A final consideration when breaking down silos is change management. While the way processes used to work may not have been ideal, it may be what employees have become accustomed to. Sometimes an organization’s culture can inadvertently foster data silos. To successfully eliminate them, it is therefore important to integrate the best change management practices. Communicate with employees about the benefits of data sharing and data integrity – not only how it benefits the business as a whole, but how it can help them in their roles by streamlining processes and creating better results.
Solve problems and create solutions
Once an organization has centralized its data, connected all of its disparate silos, and gained employee buy-in, it can focus on the real issues at hand: solving problems and creating solutions for its customers. It can accelerate project timelines and grow and scale day-to-day operations with better management of its data. Businesses can also see real results through faster, more streamlined operations.
Data management is no longer just about moving data between systems. Organizations must evolve to connect with their end users, employees and customers, wherever they are. And they need to do it quickly and in real time – today’s digital world is changing at record speed.
The past two years have been about change. Preparing for the unexpected and boldly facing the pace of change is no small feat, especially when it comes to protecting our assets and data. With so many obstacles standing in our way, our data shouldn’t be one of them. Eliminating as many silos as possible can streamline business processes, improve information flow, improve operational efficiency, and give peace of mind to customers and employees so we can all connect and thrive at today’s digital age.