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Overcome Silos with Data Integration - How To Do It?

Overcoming Silos with Data Integration

Organizational silos are not necessarily a bad thing. They are simply the result of creating and maintaining a rigid organizational structure where roles and functions are divided into neat “boxes” or business units. In such sutiations teams rarely need to exchange information or experience.

This can definitely have its advantages, especially in some heavily regulated industries like finance or healthcare, but in most cases, it creates inefficiencies, slows down productivity, and can lead to missed opportunities. If that’s the case, dismantling silos will help you improve agility, adaptability, and even your potential for innovation.

One of the best ways to overcome structural rigidity and lack of communication between teams is by integrating your systems and setting up automatic end-to-end data flows that allow everyone to easily zoom out and look at the bigger picture, instead of being focused on manual work.

In this article, we’ll see what organizational silos are, why they occur in the first place, what to do about them, and how to break them down with data integration.

With time, this results in errors, a lot of manual work and frustrations may arise. For example, if the DevOps does not have an easy channel for communication with the Service Desk team, or vice versa, you’ll notice that with time, communication between them inevitably becomes more and more difficult.

You don’t need to wait for this to happen to do something about it, though: you can proactively address communication issues before they result in the self-isolation of different units and impact productivity.

What are organizational silos?

Organizational silos are the direct result of breaking down operations into distinct functional units and areas, such as sales, service desk, and devops, for example. They solidify and become problematic when employees only need to communicate with peers from a different team or department.

If employees need exchange information with other teams or work on achieving common goals, their own way of doing things becomes solidified in siloed processes and manual workflows.

With time, this results in errors, a lot of manual work and frustrations may arise. For example, if the DevOps does not have an easy channel for communication with the Service Desk team, or vice versa, you’ll notice that with time, communication between them inevitably becomes more and more difficult.

You don’t need to wait for this to happen to do something about it, though: you can proactively address communication issues before they result in the self-isolation of different units and impact productivity.

Why do organizational silos occur and what can you do about them?

In large companies—even the most innovative and adaptable ones—organizational silos are almost inevitable, but there’s plenty you can do to break them down and limit their impact on productivity.

In large companies—even the most innovative and adaptable ones—organizational silos are almost inevitable, but there’s plenty you can do to break them down and limit their impact on productivity.

  • Prioritizing short-term goals and forgetting the long-term vision

Each department has a number of short-term goals that define day-to-day and weekly tasks. If the long-term business goals or vision are unclear, it’s easy for teams to get caught up in the most immediate issues they have in front of them, and only work on those.

When pressure is high and monthly and quarterly targets are set in a way that leaves little space for creativity or conceptual work, communication with other departments is often the first to go, which directly impacts productivity.

To address this, you first need to define the overarching long-term goals for the business as a whole, make sure the goals of each team are aligned with them, and communicate on them often. Next, you need to make sure teams’ goals aren’t conflicting, and that different units can actually work together on achieving them.

For this, you need to set up the right systems that allow teams to communicate with each other and cooperate on solving common problems. For this, a data integration platform can be extremely useful, as it facilitates bi-directional connection between different systems and lets each team reach out to others easily.

An Example of Organizational Silo:

In order to bring more clarity on the matter we will use a very simple example with one of the biggest dentalcare companies in the US. Their monitoring teams were using 3 disperse monitoring systems and data was scattered among them. Micro Focus Operations Bridge is their central ITOM solution, yet their teams were also using AppDynamics, SolarWinds, and Splunk for monitoring and Jira Service Desk for incident management. The company was experiencing lots of delays in information transfer, lower productivity and performance results. That is why they decided to break the silos between their monitoring teams by integrating OpsBridge, AppDynamics, SolarWinds, and Splunk. All data from the different sources was gathered by the integration tool and reported to OpsBridge. As a result, the company experienced significant decrease in man-time to resolve issues. Going one step further, they also connected their Monitoring and ITSM systems as well. Read the full story here.

  • Using siloed technology and tools

Different teams use different tools and processes to achieve their goals, which is perfectly normal. Problems begin when these aren’t in sync.

Each time a new system is introduced to the software stack of a team, you create another silo of data—unless you make sure it’s connected with the rest of your software ecosystem.

Legacy systems aren’t easy to connect with other tools and often come with limited integration capabilities out-of-the-box. Even open-source solutions like Kubernetes or Nagios can be challenging to link to other systems, if you lack the necessary expertise in your team.

The good news is, you don’t need to develop your own integrations internally in order to break down tech silos: an integration platform can do all the heavy lifting for you, and help you link your tools and teams.

  • Lack of a unified cross-team communication strategy

Siloed information is often the result of a lack of common cross-team communication strategy, and can directly impact productivity.

According to Aberdeen, contact centers of 200 employees or more bear unnecessary annual costs of $1,5 million due to poor productivity resulting from a lack of unified communications. What’s more, according to the same report, employees spend 15% of their time simply looking for information on how to do their jobs, rather than actually doing them.

So, how can you address that? A unified communication strategy allows teams to seamlessly exchange data, and the first step to this is to lay the groundwork first and make sure teams are equipped with the necessary tools to stay connected and work in sync.

Connecting your systems – for example, ServiceNow to Azure DevOps or Micro Focus OpsBridge to VMWare SD-WAN – allows you to connect your units, too, and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Оvercoming the challenge of organizational silos through integration

If you want to facilitate cross-team collaboration and improve the efficiency and performance potential of your organizatio, rather than those of individual teams and departments, letting go of silos is a must.

Looking at your organization as a system of interconnected and interdependent units, rather than a collection of isolated elements, will help you set up the right systems in place to get all parts to speak to each other. And indeed, improving each part will likely bring much better results if you first set out to improve communication between them.

A data integration platform is one of the best ways to achieve that on operational level. Many integration platforms, however, are difficult to set up, as you need to use code or additional scripts to connect your systems.

A comprehensive no-code integration platform like ZigiOps will help you quickly equip your teams with the right cross-system connectors and break down organizational silos without needing to write even a single line of code.