Data silos can happen in a company for many legitimate reasons. It can also be a symptom of a bigger problem – people silos. Tackling one can help to get at the root of the other.
I think most people would agree these two issues can be a chicken-and-egg problem.
Keeping data separate in a company can happen for many legitimate reasons. Maybe, a specific department needs to use an application that has features not needed by other departments. So they set it up just for themselves. Then start collecting data in it that no one else has access to. It might be that one group needs more details than another, so they keep their detail records separate. Even, if in something simple like excel rather than a database or application.
Additionally, there are the less admitted reasons that have to do with holding power or protecting self-interest.
Either way, having different goals and different viewpoints can grow out of this separateness of how we do things and the data we keep about it.
Never is this more obvious an issue than in the relationship between sales and marketing. The health of data sharing between these two groups in a company speaks volumes about how these two groups interact on a day to day basis.
Looking at your data silos and measurement strategies can be a source to help bridge these issues.
Become more customer focused
The problem with our revenue funnels is that customers don’t take the straight route that we define. And while marketing and sales teams battle at times over who owns the customer, the truth is we all do. The revenue funnel should be considered an approximation of where the customer is on their journey. We can use criteria to qualify where the customer is on that journey, but we should also be able to identify exceptions. Sales can flag a customer to be part of a marketing nurture campaign, if they feel the customer needs more information. Just as Marketing should not create barriers to a customer talking to a salesperson if they indicate they want to. Creating attribution models that is more aligned with a customer’s journey and spans both team, can help with this sharing of the customer.
Aligning objectives and measurements
I’m a big fan of creating OKRs at both a departmental and corporate level. OKRs include setting our objections and deciding how these will be measured. The intent is to improve alignment across the company. Focusing on how objectives can be measured, and the data that feeds into those measurements, can foster a culture of inforamtion sharing.
Remove data silos by creating agreements about our data
Sometimes an application roll out or an integration project can begin a ata discussion. Resulting in us looking at the what, when and why data is needed by whom. When we are looking at different teams these flows and models are data agreements. Agreements can also include. Agreements may also include when and what data is not shared. Building out a data flow can at least make what data is available known.
Trying to find transparent ways of sharing data across an organization may not solve all problems in a power-based silo culture. Though looking at it can be a tactic to start discussions on collaboration.