The number of applications used by the typical organization is staggering.
At the small-business level, the average is 14.3.
Not surprisingly, when we look at the enterprise-level that number jumps substantially … to just under 500.
While most of your employees or team members would defend “their” apps as necessary or job-critical, our love of all things “app” presents a serious and counter-intuitive problem.
The irony is that as a leader … the more apps your organization uses the harder it is to make data-driven decisions.
Because keeping a pulse on your business’ sales, marketing, finances, web analytics, customer service, internal R&D, IT, and more as isolated sources of data never gives you a complete picture.
In other words, big data doesn’t lead to big insights if you can’t bring it together.
As IBM’s own Big Data and Analytics Hub stressed, “What we’ve learned is that many of the most common challenges associated with big data aren’t really analytics problems. In many cases, these problems are fundamental, even traditional, information integration problems.”
So, if lacking data integration is the real problem to making effective business decisions — disciplined, data-driven decisions rather merely following our gut — let’s start by looking at the source: silos.
In their both their human and digital forms, silos are the bane of productive and profitable businesses.
Patrick Lencioni, in his classic business parable Silos, Politics and Turf Wars, explains why:
Silos – and the turf wars they enable – devastate organizations. They waste resources, kill productivity, and jeopardize the achievement of goals.
And Lencioni isn’t alone. As Co-Founder of E2M & MoveoApps Pratik Dholakiya put it:
Much as we believe that we are most productive in our little silos, the fundamental fact remains that humans are social animals.
By denying the opportunity to collaborate and cross-pollinate ideas, businesses contribute to their own speedy demise.
So what exactly are silos?
According to the Business Dictionary silo mentality is a “mindset present when certain departments or sectors do not wish to share information with others in the same company.”
Simply put, silos are divisions within organizations that isolate departments from departments, teams from teams, and eventually even people from people.
Silos are fueled by internal competition, blame shifting, poor communication structures, and — most of all — “reward and punishment” systems that elevate individual achievement over shared success.
The catch is that none of the departments of a company can exist separately, at least not for long.
If product development and sales are working on separate islands without communication, it won’t be long before the sales team is making empty promises about what the product can actually deliver. That means clients expectations won’t meet, and soon enough, customers dwindle.
Not just that, but silos substantially damage worker satisfaction, which is major factor is a company’s long-term financial success.
So the question is: “What does all this have to do with data and decision making?”
Turns out … everything.
If silos are stand-alone containers of people, then it makes sense that data silos are stand-alone containers of data. They exist separately; without sharing, cross-referencing, interpreting, adding to each other’s self-contained data sets.
What happens when silos exist in your data?
You end up seeing only the analytics produced by each individual application — remember, somewhere between 14.3 and 500 — but you never get the whole picture. And in many cases, the connections this “whole picture” creates are crucial in order for certain business functions to succeed.
Image Credit: GovDelivery
As IBM put it, “The most common challenges associated with big data … are fundamental, even traditional, information integration problems.”
The industry-leading development firm Laserfiche reinforces this point powerfully: “Silos are standing in the way of big data. Whether in data sources or organizational structures, silos lead to complicated analytics and lackluster results on big data initiatives.”
Let’s take the example of a company’s CRM system not being connected with their email marketing application. If that’s the case, then marketing isn’t able to effectively identify the people they need to communicate with: their clients and leads. And since email has the highest ROI of any marketing channel, that translates to lost revenue.
And here’s the scary truth … without the right tools to bring your data together, data silos can exist even if their destructive human counterpart don’t.
Ending the silos …
The problem of siloed data is exactly why Cyfe exists.
The simplest way to bringing your data together is through an all-in-one dashboard customized for your business’ specific needs, whether you’re a startup or need help with complicated financial metrics.
Most importantly, Cyfe draws this data from the applications your business already uses.
That means, instead of one more app to your already crowded plate … Cyfe brings your data out of its silos and together in one place.
Next time we’ll dive into the major benefits of integrated analytics:
Streamlining Sales and Marketing
In the meantime, you can sign up for Cyfe for free right now.