Data silos prevent a business from sharing its resources across departments. Have you ever found yourself taking a coffee break with a coworker and after avoiding "talking shop" for about 5 minutes, you learn about something very relevant that affects your job, and wonder why this important topic has never come up during meetings? If any of these conversations strike up the words ‘data silos’ and ‘automation,’ then it’s pretty clear that your business has some questions that need answering. Data silos are barriers that can impact an organization’s efficiency, productivity, and can erode any sense of combined company culture. They occur for a number of different reasons, but it often boils down to one thing: a lack of collaboration because of divergent workflows and technologies.
While work silos in general are a pretty bad look, there help is at hand.
Updated Jan 11, 2023
Automation provides work data-silo-busting technology that can break down these barriers to create a better workplace for all members of your team.
In this post we will look at the factors that create data silos, what impact they can have on your business, and how automation (and more specifically, yours truly at Wrk) can create the perfect setting for greater harmony, efficiency, and ultimately, success.
Why Are Data Silos Problematic?
Data silos in business occur when certain departments or teams don’t share their resources and knowledge with each other. This can happen by accident or intentionally.
These barriers can have multiple consequences for your company—from producing a weak company culture to negatively impacting your business’s productivity and bottom line.
You might be thinking that data silos can’t be all that bad if many organizations operate with them, but as Patrick Lencioni rather explicitly points out in his book, Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars, “Silos, and the turf wars they enable, devastate organizations. They waste resources, kill productivity, and hinder the achievement of goals.”
Why do Data Silos Happen?
Data silos occur for a bunch of reasons — be it a multitude of conflicting priorities, a technology barrier between departments, or an ill-prepared remote working environment. When you take a step back to evaluate the how, you see it often boils down to a few key factors:
1.) Varying priorities and goals
Departments often have their own mandate, priorities and methodologies; some overlap with others, while some require more support to fill that gap.
Fragmented teams decrease productivity — without proper communication across departments, bottlenecks occur. With misaligned priorities, redundant or repetitive steps are taken and your bottom-line is toast.
2.) Communication and technology barriers
It is often the case that departments and teams within a business have different communication and management styles, sometimes even adopting different technologies. These differences can prevent resources and information from being shared across an organization.
"These barriers can have multiple consequences for your company—from producing a weak company culture to negatively impacting your business’s productivity and bottom line."
One team might use a tool specific to their role that doesn’t integrate organically with others, while others might share the same tools (here’s looking at you, Asana), but use them in very different ways. A recent report found data silos can cause employees to lose up to 12 hours a week chasing data.
3.) A dispersed workforce
Working across different floors can be just as difficult as working across different offices, or remotely.
Now that remote work may be the ‘new normal’ for a lot of businesses, the mission to destroy departmental barriers is all the more important moving forward. Zoom reported that their daily active users jumped from 10 million in December 2019 to over 200 million in March 2020 after the Coronavirus pandemic spread to Europe and North America.
The transition from the in-office 9 to 5 to the home might be the wake-up call organizations need to assess their workplace practices and streamline efficiencies to bust down business silos for good.
4.) Lack of means for collaboration
Collaboration is key to a productive working environment. There’s no arguing a happy office working together is a productive one. Collaboration has been shown to improve productivity by 20-30%, and employees agree it’s a high priority:
- 41% of customer satisfaction employees say silos degrade the seamless customer experience.
- 81% of sales teams say collaboration is critical to closing sales and a lack of integrated systems linking data sources is holding many businesses back.
Organizing and streamlining your collaboration processes using resources like Wrk, can close these gaps across departments, and lead to happier, more productive employees...but more on that later.
So, what steps can your business take to fix these issues? Let’s find out.
How to Break Down Data Silos with Automation
Automation can take all the tools and resources in each of your departments and integrate them seamlessly, sharing knowledge across departments, and increasing collaboration in one fell swoop. Some companies opt for an ‘automation-only’ approach to business integration while others, like Wrk, prefer a hybrid approach that merges automation with human expertise. In our experience, there are 5 key actions that your company can take to break down work silos, or prevent them before they happen.
1.) Remove cross-department duplication
Automation allows departments to be on the same page by connecting their assets and streamlining data sources. Doing so, helps your business avoid out-of-date information, and ensures that duplication is a thing of the past.
2.) Data-sharing workflows
Lack of data-sharing can lead to a lack of clarity for business. 8 out of 10 marketers say silos prevent them from accurately reporting on campaign performance as they aren’t able to connect the dots between departments like customer success, sales or IT.
Automation can bridge the gaps between different data sources to provide all the necessary departments with the tools they need to report accurately, increase productivity and enhance customer satisfaction.
3.) Align cross-function business goals
Whether your business takes a top-down or bottom-up approach to how it operates, everyone needs to be aligned with the organization’s business goals.
Connecting all your resources using data-sharing workflows not only promotes an environment for collaboration and knowledge sharing, it also enforces the shared business goals of the whole organization.
4.) Adopt a hybrid automation approach to eliminating data silos
People-focussed automation can reduce departmental friction and enhance productivity. This is good for the unity of your company and makes it less likely that awkward conversations will come up at the summer BBQ.
For instance, by automating HR onboarding processes, a business can ensure that its employees are trained properly, are equipped with the tools needed to grow and develop, and are cognizant of the transparent business goals that they are expected to meet. Clarity and transparency lead to trust in an organization — introducing automated onboarding and off-boarding processes can facilitate that.
Example of a HR Onboarding Wrkflow.
5.) Boost overall collaboration
No matter the size of your organization, collaboration across teams should be a high priority. The removal of silos allows organizations to create a strategic company culture based on openness that brings people together toward a common goal.
Now, what happens when you combine automation with an on-demand human workforce? You get Wrk.
How Wrk can Help
Wrk helps businesses improve collaboration between departments, improve the customer experience, and boost morale by combining the power of automation with a 24/7 remote workforce. Wrkflows align departments in a synergistic loop leading to a better-run organization overall.
Wrk can create harmony between your organization’s technology and people by connecting each department in a holistic way. Wrk's automation also allows your organization to better synthesize tasks using your existing software, like Salesforce or Quickbooks, for example.
We all know that business silos aren’t ideal, but not every business has the capacity or resources to right every wrong immediately. By tackling one data silo at a time, Wrk gives businesses the tools to achieve scalable successes without having to engage in a major overhaul of their operations. Businesses can opt to pull from a library of ready-to-use Wrkflows covering common business processes or create their own with an easy-to-use drag-and-drop Wrkflow builder.
"The removal of data silos allows organizations to create a strategic company culture based on openness that brings people together towards a common goal."
In a remote-centric world, automation is a helpful tool that can fill gaps, maximize efficiencies, and alleviate strain on your team. Working remotely doesn't create silos — it opens up an opportunity for deeper and more meaningful collaboration across departments.