Businesses use more apps than ever to perform even the smallest tasks - with the potential downside of creating data silos. Read on to find out how to avoid them.
Cloud tools are more popular than ever. File storage, customer relationships, social media marketing, email campaigns - businesses of all sizes are using more apps than ever to perform even the smallest tasks.
And these tools are helping them save time and work more efficiently. But unfortunately, using all these tools side-by-side also increases the risk of creating so-called ‘information or data silos’.
What are information silos?
Using a wide range of cloud applications means you have lots of information stored in different, isolated information silos, leaving you without a ‘single source of truth’. Wikipedia defines these silos as such:
“A data silo is a repository of fixed data that remains under the control of one entity and is isolated from the rest of the organization, much like grain in a farm silo is closed off from outside elements. Data silos can have technical or cultural roots.”
Luckily, that doesn’t mean you need to ban the tools that help you work smarter. A more viable solution would be to simply connect those tools, using the cloud (also known as cloud integration).
What risks do information silos entail?
1. Duplicate efforts
If the multitude of tools you use leads to information silos, chances are you won’t realise when a colleague already resolved a problem or established a process. As you’re unaware of this information, you’ll waste time working on the very same thing - replicating existing content or helping where help is no longer needed. This may lead to confusion or frustration - and duplicate efforts will only add to the noise.
In short: technology plays a vital role in ensuring your entire team is on the same page. Your team may be sending out emails you’re not aware of, the efforts of your marketing team may not be based on actual data flowing back from sales (e.g. conversion rates per channel), etc.
2. No data driven decisions
Being data-driven basically boils down to using verified and analysed data to take better decisions. But obviously, the quality of your data is essential. If elements are missing or wrong, you could ultimately be taking a decision that will cost your business dearly.
- Your analysis suggests conversion rates are high for a certain target audience. You’ll probably increase your marketing and sales efforts to target these businesses or individuals even more. But what if some of those won deals were tagged with the wrong sector? Or what if those specific deals came in from just one unique one-off marketing campaign?
The key is to expand your scope by looking beyond your immediate horizon - which won’t be easy if all data lies hidden in silos.
3. Missing out on sales opportunities
Businesses need to act quickly in order to be successful. The best marketers run campaigns based on select triggers (e.g. website visits, ebook downloads, …). The best sales teams respond to leads as soon as they come in. Neither will be able to strike while the iron is hot if data remains in separate silos - and your hottest leads will just get colder and colder.
4. No customer insights
Customers are king - today more than ever. But the success of your customers depends on your understanding of their journey, from cold prospect to onboarded customer and eventually brand advocate. As a business, you need to understand what happens at each touch point, and more importantly, what’s missing.
If the information you have is stored on different platforms without being exchanged, you won’t be able to streamline customer touch points, or improve the overall customer experience.
5. Lack of prioritisation and coordination
This may actually be the heart of the issue - and relates not only to data silos, but also to organisational ones. As data no longer flows through your business, team members work with their heads down to complete their own projects, to reach their own personal goals. This doesn’t build an atmosphere of openness and communication: one co-worker may be utterly unaware of what’s going on in other parts of your business (e.g. by not having access to key metrics), and will not be able to contribute to their success.
Information silos create barriers where they otherwise would not have existed. Information will no longer flow and people will simply focus on doing their part. This could be a great thing in terms of focus, but can also prove devastating to internal collaboration - ultimately clouding your decision-making and slowing down your organisation.
How to avoid data silos
The most efficient businesses know when to focus on their own priorities, and when to work together, share data and exchange information. Now that you know where silos come from and just how detrimental they can be, you can start knocking them down. Allow us to set you on the right track - with the Teamleader Marketplace!
The Teamleader Marketplace essentially serves as a hub of cloud-based solutions, designed to help your business find the tools you need. By enabling mutual data exchange between the cloud applications you use and improving your workflows, you’ll be able to wave those dreadful data silos goodbye. A quick overview of how it works:
How do you start with the Marketplace?
Once you access the Marketplace, you can browse categories ranging from accounting software to Web-to-lead forms. Plug-and-play allows you to connect new applications with a minimum of effort.
Managing existing integrations is also possible. For example, the single sign-on feature allows you to instantly log in to external applications. And what’s more, you can always build your own integrations and share them with a whole network of other SMEs.
The Marketplace is a wonderful way to start optimising your work environment. Check it out today!
Note: the Marketplace is only available to Teamleader users. Teamleader is an all-in-one solution for CRM, project management and invoicing. Discover how our software could help your business thrive by taking the Product tour, or dive right in and start your free 14 day trial today.