If you have not heard of data silos, they refer to isolated information within a company that might be on separate servers or machines. When all the data in the corporation is not accessible by everyone, it can create substantial information gaps.
Many things create data silos, such as changes in a business’s organizational structure as it grows. Other causes of data silos include switching to new software and leaving some data on older systems, or a vendor solution that does not integrate well with other software. Carelessness in how things are filed and named can also add to the situation.
Data silos present numerous challenges. Fortunately, you can solve the problems with a few easy steps. Here is what you should know when trying to overcome data silos for better customer experiences. Making a few simple changes results in a better flow of information through your organization.
1. Audit Your Data
Keeping a handle on your company data is crucial to brand growth. Take the time to inventory your databases and where all the content resides. Before you can consolidate information, you must know where things are and the importance of every file.
Create a master list so you can see what might need to transfer to a different server. Someone just starting with your company should be able to look up where a file resides and pull it up for reference.
2. Set Company Goals
It is natural for people to get in the habit of saving files in a particular location or even keeping them within their department. However, creating such data silos can hinder sales and marketing departments as well as development.
Set some company-wide goals to become more data centric as a team. Open up databases to those in other departments that might need to run an analysis of the information.
What does this look like in practice? Imagine your marketing department wants to run a campaign for the holidays. However, they are not sure which items sell most frequently between Black Friday and New Year’s Day. With a more data-centric system, they can run an analysis from the sales department on what items sell most frequently during November and December.
Train your staff to upload files to a central system that is easily accessible by anyone with the proper credentials. Set up some file naming parameters to avoid confusion.
3. Develop Customer Success Outcomes (CSOs)
If you are not in a position to revamp your system and must deal with data silos for the time being, look to developing CSOs to help navigate the various information systems. When you have a clear CSO, you can connect facts between data silos and get a 360° view of how products impact customers.
Make sure you understand the customer journey and how to meet their goals when using your product or service. You can then look at the expected outcomes compared to the data and make adjustments to meet expectations better.
4. Consolidate Sources
If you have data scattered across different systems, it may be time to take on the time-consuming task of consolidating sources. Even though it requires a lot of time and effort initially, once you have a new program in place, it becomes easier to save to a platform different departments can easily access at will.
Start with your smallest databases, as they will require the least time to move to a new location. You can then expand from there. In the meantime, devise a plan and processes for where to save new information so it is already in an integrated location. You could hire temporary workers to move files around to integrate old data into your company’s new system better.
5. Choose Systems That Integrate
When upgrading or moving to a new system, consider which ones integrate with what you already use. Many software companies make their programs proprietary, creating difficulties in integrating with competitors. However, you may not always want to use the same brand as your needs will change over time.
Look for systems that integrate with one another. Even if one does not have every feature you want, if it more easily integrates with other systems you currently use or have in the past, it might be worth losing a few for the ease of accessing what you want when you want it.
6. Enable Team Access
Allow employees to run their own analytics on data. Perhaps you have no choice but to keep some things in a separate system. You can still reduce some of the aggravation and limitations by giving people who need it access to those files.
Your sales and marketing departments will most likely need data from various sources to plan future campaigns. Look at who needs to be able to pull information up quickly and give them the necessary permissions to do so.
If you are concerned about how people might process the wealth of information, create videos to explain the layout better. Videos help people feel more connected to what they are working on. For example, around 81% of marketers think video helps improve sales. People absorb information more easily in visual form — your employees are the same. They will better understand the system when they can listen to and view the details.
Data Silos Do Not Have to Hinder You
Come up with a plan to manage your current data silos while preventing new ones from occurring. While they can slow down your ability to run analytics, opening up the possibility of accessing all the different data sources offers you the ability to run various reports. Crosscheck them against one another with the customer outcomes in mind and yo will find you can utilize the details you have to grow your business.