Every company is at risk of fostering data silos. In fact, a study conducted by Forrester Consulting for Airtable across employees in the U.S. and the UK revealed that, on average, knowledge workers spend 30% of their week looking for the information they require to do their job and the difficulty in finding and accessing data is the top reason why they feel disengaged from work. What causes essential data to be inaccessible in the workplace? We will explore the root of modern data silos, why they drain developers’ productivity and how to break away from these silos with better observability in your organization.
What are Data Silos?
A data silo is a collection of data held by a group that is not easily or fully accessible by other groups in the same organization.
Data silos can be a byproduct of organizational structure. When different departments or business units in an organization operate independently, they develop their own way of collecting, storing and managing their data. The processes to access that data from other business units can be cumbersome or even nonexistent. Sometimes, the individuals responsible for the data will even be against sharing it for fear that it would be misused or misunderstood outside of their particular unit. The difficulty in accessing information then leads to independent data collection from other business units and ultimately creates other data silos and multiple sources of truth.
Data silos can also happen during times of growth for an organization. New tools are necessary to support the growing needs of the business and are added to the list of tools already in use. Over time, this list grows, and systems that were designed to operate in isolation can create data silos by limiting the ability to integrate with other systems. A recent survey of marketing organizations by Emarsys showed that the surveyed organizations are using an average of 91 marketing cloud services. These 91 tools undoubtedly create data silos unless they are fully integrated together or into a central system.
Why are Data Silos Killing Your Developer Productivity?
Data silos aren’t only slowing your developers down by limiting their access to the data needed for development. They also put a lot of extra work on their plates. And it goes without saying that this additional time spent on data management reduces the time available for improving your product.
Management of Redundant Data
Multiple teams in the organization storing their data separately means increased workloads for developers, who need to update and maintain separate copies of the same data.
Inconsistent Data Quality
Data gaps or quality issues happen more frequently since different parts of the organization have their own standards for collecting, cleaning and validating data. This can lead to development delays or errors in the product.
Developers have to code a lot of integrations to connect all the different tools your organization uses and keep the data flowing between them.
When different teams work in silos, the chances of misunderstanding are greater, leading to development delays and misaligned priorities.
Difficulty in Data Governance
Maintaining high standards of data privacy, security and compliance is time-consuming when the data is spread out in different silos and can create costly regulatory risks.
Steps Leaders Can Take to Break Down Data Silos
Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to break down the data silos in your organization, relieving your developers at the same time. Each step may have its own set of advantages and challenges, so the solutions you choose ultimately depend on your organization’s needs and objectives.
Create a Unified Data Strategy
Set clear goals and standards for data collection, storage, management and analysis at the company level. You should also implement data governance and security policies.
Adjust the Culture
Foster a culture of collaboration and data sharing across the company by encouraging teams to share data, insights, and best practices across different departments. You can achieve this through regular communication, training and incentives for cross-functional collaboration.
Establish Cross-Functional Teams
Bringing together members of different departments to collaborate on data-related projects can prove invaluable. These teams should have a shared understanding of the organization’s data strategy and should be empowered to make decisions about data collection, analysis and sharing.
Invest in Data Integration and Interoperability
Invest in tools and technologies that promote data integration and interoperability across different systems and departments. Adopt standard data formats, implement APIs and data connectors or use data integration platforms to make observability collaborative. Make sure that the tools you choose to add to your company have various native integration capabilities to avoid custom integrations as much as possible.
Congrats, you now know all about data silos and how to break them down! The next step for you is to identify the data silos in your company and put a plan in place to get rid of them. Your employees and coworkers will thank you!