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How to Remove Data Silos and Information Silos For Good

Data silos (also known as data islands or information silos) are barriers for organizations and for decision making. How can we identify them, overcome these barriers and prevent them? Let’s break it down.
women working together, when a team works together and there is strong collaboration, data silos and information silos are less likely women working together, when a team works together and there is strong collaboration, data silos and information silos are less likely

Data is important for driving decisions and for growing your business. What happens when they are in silos? Data silos (or data islands, or information silos!) are huge obstacles for businesses that want to grow and make informed, data-driven decisions. They affect organizations and prevent various departments across those organizations from functioning smoothly and optimally. It is a barrier that causes unnecessary friction within an organization and offers only a fractured view of an organization’s operations.

Knowing how to identify data silos and how to move forward is the key to overcoming these barriers in a team and in an organization to take your business and data to the next level. How does FME solve this and help to give you a unified view of your organization’s operations to boost productivity? Let’s dive in.

shows magnifying glass on papers of data that could become data silos or information silos if data is not organized from the start

Photo by Anna Nekrashevich:

What is a Data Silo and Why Do They Exist?

A data silo, otherwise known as a data island or an information silo, is an isolated storehouse of raw data that is inaccessible to all departments but one in an organization. This results in a lack of transparency and translates into a lack of efficiency, communication, trust, collaboration and ability to make effective business decisions.

These storehouses tend to grow and stay separate due to differences in each team’s or department’s goals and the business tools that they use, which isolates them from the technology biosphere that their organization primarily operates in. In these circumstances, there needs to be a change in company culture to involve more collaboration rather than competition and gatekeeping. There is also a need to centralize or upgrade IT services within an organization to build a more inclusive technology biosphere and overcome data silos.

Another reason data silos exist is rapid growth of an organization. An organization could grow more quickly than it is prepared for. Bureaucratic or structural issues come to the surface in centralizing or upgrading IT services to keep up with this growth, which hinders teams from sharing data with one another. These are the conditions that allow data silos to appear and grow at an exponential rate. This is a challenge that growing organizations face that may prevent them from growing their business eventually.

What are Examples of Data Silos and Information Silos?

Examples of data silos include implementing a new business tool or software without connecting it to the current technology biosphere or legacy systems in place.

In terms of spatial data, spatial datasets are usually massive too. It is not something that can be easily shared or accessed even when shared. Hence, spatial data silos appear and grow in technical departments that cannot be accessed easily. Resultantly, opportunities for location intelligence are lost and cannot be leveraged by organizations. This siloed data can be the difference between a thriving and failing organization and business progression or regression. Therefore, it is important to create accessible spatial data.

5 Disadvantages: Why are Data Silos and Information Silos Problematic?

Data silos and information silos are problematic for a few reasons. Here are our top 5 reasons why.

1. Lack of Collaboration and Transparency

Data silos and information silos are often associated with a lack of transparency. Teams and departments cannot see each other’s data. This makes it hard to see a common vision. This makes it hard to achieve a shared goal, if that was even on the horizon. Teams and departments will continue to work independently, and this may increase the number of conflicts between teams and departments, which slows an organization’s or business growth. There will not be a mutual understanding, resulting in a lack of clear communication and productivity. In terms of company culture, this leads to a lack of collaboration and trust too.

2. Impedes Business Growth

Speaking of growth, data silos and information silos are infamous for slowing down productivity. When teams don’t have access to the data that they need, more time is spent finding where the data is than using it. Data silos are often associated with lengthy problem-solving and decision-making processes. This impedes business growth and creates inefficiencies. Delayed projects and lack of relevant data are symptoms of this. These barriers should have been avoided and can easily be solved with a data integration platform like FME.

3. Poor Data Quality and Accuracy

In addition to a lack of relevant data, poor data quality and accuracy are two more signs of data silos and information silos. At Safe Software, we also know that complete data is invaluable. Therefore, when an organization cannot access relevant data, their data tends to be incomplete, isolated and lack quality and accuracy. Isolated or fragmented data doesn’t offer a full picture or vision of where an organization is going too. The more data silos and information silos there are, also makes it difficult to comply with data privacy laws. It becomes complicated to track down access. Once again, data integration is essential to avoid this.

4. Fragmented and Incomplete View

Managing an organization with isolated or fragmented data is difficult. You don’t have a bird’s eye view of your business to make the right decisions for its growth. When data silos occur, organizations struggle to determine what data is most relevant or up to date. This makes collaboration between different teams and departments challenging because when data silos and information silos occur, nobody has the full picture and interprets data differently which makes it hard to be productive.

5. Higher Costs (Time, Storage & Money)

Data silos and information silos are costly in many ways. Data silos make processes lengthier which wastes time and resources. Data silos also waste storage space. When data cannot be shared or accessed by employees, employees tend to save the same data to their cloud or storage space which is wasteful. Data silos also cost money. When you need more storage space than is available to store the same data, you need to buy it. Misusing storage space is an important factor in why your data should be streamlined and accessible for the whole organization. This is why data integration is important.

man problem solving on a whiteboard - data strategy is important to think about to prevent data silos and information silos

Photo by Christina Morillo

Is Your Data Siloed? How To Identify Data Silos and Prevent or Avoid Them

Data silos and information silos can be hard to detect, especially when they are isolated and fragmented throughout an organization, so how do you identify them and prevent or avoid them? Here are 5 telltale signs:

1. Cannot Find Data or Lack of Data

When you cannot find relevant data or suspect there is a lack of data needed for your business goals. It is likely that your data are in silos and therefore cannot be accessed or analyzed.

2. Inconsistent Data

When your data is inconsistent, reporting is also inconsistent and this is usually because of data silos. Siloed data is inconsistent because you don’t have access to data that you need or data that is correct. This makes data inaccurate and you will spend more time fighting it than using it.

3. Inaccessible Data

As mentioned above, siloed data is inaccessible. Data is only accessible to certain parts of an organization. This doesn’t offer a full picture or clear vision of where your organization is heading. If you feel this way, you are probably experiencing data silos and need to make your data accessible to everyone!

4. No Data Strategy or Goals

When your data is siloed, you are not sure of what data you actually need for your business. Hence, this makes it hard to discuss any data strategy or goal. Does your organization have any goals or strategy that need data or for data?

5. Outdated Data

When your data is out of date, you are likely experiencing data silos. You probably could not access the data when you needed it and only gained access to it after. This outdated data is inaccurate and cannot be used to determine business decisions.

To prevent or avoid data silos, data integration is key. Data integration is an all-in-one solution.

Finding the right software platform that is compatible with your technology biosphere and data integration platform, sieving through outdated and irrelevant data as well as cultivating a collaborating environment are also other helpful ways that can help you unify your data and help move your business forward once you have a data integration platform in place. Without data integration, these short-term solutions are mere bandaids. In the long run, integrating your data is the best way to prevent or avoid data silos and information silos.

man typing on computer keyboard

Photo by Anete Lusina

FME Solutions for Data Silos and Information Silos

Data integration is essential in the fight against data silos and information silos. With the right data integration platform and business tools, you can make data, especially geospatial data, accessible to all. Your business benefits from these insights about location intelligence, productivity and so much more. With a data integration platform in place, you will also create an agile and harmonized enterprise. This is where FME comes in.

FME has allowed businesses to connect data from disparate systems throughout organizations in different industries, including city governments. FME allows non-spatial data to become spatial. From raster data to vector data, there are many ways that FME can help you share your spatial data.

In particular, FME can automate, extend and homogenize data workflows which once were impossible. FME extends the enterprise and helps you discover the value of spatial data.

Curious about the value of spatial data for the enterprise? Spatial data is an integral part of the data landscape today. Learn more on how to leverage spatial data, fight data silos and meet the challenges that modern organizations face today. How?

Download our free ebook, Spatial Data for the Enterprise For Dummies — Safe Software Special Edition. You should also catch these upcoming webinars about how to maximize your data and why data is so critical to business success today:

this is the cover for safe software's Spatial Data for the Enterprise Dummies Guide ebook

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