written by
Yves Delongie

Siloed Data - How to free up a precious resource

Customer Data Platform 5 min read

Siloed organizations, siloed data.

Most companies today still work in siloed—in silo (from the Greek σιρός – siros, "pit for holding grain")—organizations, where strict separation of processes and data between marketing, sales and customer success exists. Only semi-holy men and women, carrying a title resembling to CxO, are allowed to bridge such environment.

A data silo is a collection of data held by one group that is not easily or fully accessible by other groups. Data tends to be organized by internal departments. Finance, Marketing, HR, Sales, Customer Success and other departments need different information to do their work, and those individual collections of often overlapping-but-inconsistent data are in separate silos. As the quantity and diversity of data grows, silos continue to grow too.

Marketing does lead generation, Sales converts leads to customers, and Customer Success keeps customers happy so they stay onboard. And while there is undeniable merit in having people work towards clear goals, focussing on only parts of the process, rather then trying to do everything, there is absolutely no excuse why customer intelligence should not be available throughout the whole organization, in their each own tools.

In the age of Digital Transformation, data is constantly accumulating everywhere – often automatically, without anyone really noticing. This is not always financial data, but increasingly it’s operational data that provides highly valuable insights on business performance and revealing opportunities for optimization. However, gleaning these valuable insights from this data requires that the data is up-to-date, consistent, and centrally available within the organization.

Most systems for tools such as CRM and ERP offer functions that allow automated data exports. If this is not the case, however, third-party solutions are often available that offer a corresponding interface for data integration.

5 ways data silos are silently tearing down the organization

Inability to get a comprehensive view of data

Silos prevent relevant data from being shared. Each department’s analysis is limited by its own view. How can you find hidden opportunities for operational cost savings, for example, if operations and cost data aren’t consolidated?

Data silos threaten data integrity

Data is one of the most valuable assets of your business. Having several tools collecting information about your prospects, customers and partners increases your company's value. But when that data is outdated, incomplete or missing, the value that you could get from it goes down significantly.

They waste resources that could be used somewhere else

When the same information is stored in different places, and when users download data into their personal or group storage, resources suffer. Streamlining data into one source frees up precious storage and relieves IT stress in buying and maintaining storage that may not be needed. Or when design assets are produced and stored in different places, it can cause reproduction of elements that already exist.

They create a less collaborative environment

Each team ends up working independently in the presence of data silos. They only have access to their own data, so that is the only data they work with. This creates a divided organization. Teams do not collaborate with each other on projects, which makes it near impossible for the company to share a common vision.

They lead to bad customer experience

In most businesses, there are multiple customer touch points. These interactions happen through a variety of channels and during different stages of the buyer's journey. That means that you'll have members of several teams like support, billing, sales, or marketing interacting with the same customer or buyer.

When data is isolated, you can easily lose track of your customer's story with your company — and nothing is more frustrating for a customer than having to repeat their story over and over again to different people.

Customer Data Platforms to the rescue.

As more and more companies understand the necessity of having a 360-degree view their customers, they may consider investing in a Customer Data Platform (CDP) for marketing, sales and customer success.

Your data is most likely located within different pieces of software. Integrating those systems correctly is the most effective way to avoid data silos. For the users of cloud-based applications, Integration Platforms as a Service (iPaaS) are an outstanding solution.

Integration software solves all the problems we explored above. You'll have high-quality data that will give you a complete picture of your customer. In addition, it ensures that your data is automatically updated and helps your different teams get on the same page, resulting in a better customer experience.

A Customer Data Platform's prime focus is to bring all [historical] customer events and data from websites and apps, both from accounts and their users, from first appearance till last interaction, into one single source of truth. An event is an action that has been triggered, e.g. user/account tried feature1 today at 3:17pm. Account and user data aka properties are variables set to a certain value, e.g. shoe size=43. nd by reverting that knowledge back on personal account and user level, the CDP will be computing information such as likelihood to buy and -churn, best ad campaign, buyer persona, etc...

The more executives recognize the need for more cohesive and consistent data consolidation — and prove to their peers it’s worth it to consolidate — the more money they’ll be able to set aside for the appropriate platform investments that can gradually eliminate all data silos.

Having said that, a sufficient budget won’t resolve your data silos instantaneously.

You also need to develop new data integration and unifications protocols that prevent future silos from emerging, then train everyone within your organization on said protocols.

There are certain key characteristics modern, data-driven cultures have today:

  • Data literacy training is provided to requisite teams and staff members regularly.
  • Customer data objectives and KPIs are clearly laid out by brand leadership.
  • Routine data cleaning (i.e., removing dated or inaccurate data) is a top priority.
  • Employees have their data-related concerns and ideas heard by business leaders.
  • Thoughtful tech evaluation is conducted to find the ideal central database.
  • Departments don’t withhold important data sets from colleagues across teams.

Finally, the CDP will make sure you’ll find all original properties and computed intelligence in the tools that marketing, sales and customer success are using. So when a sales person talks to a customer, also he knows that she/he might be likely to churn. Or a customer success person will be happy to see that a sales has previously happen, or a certain marketing mail was interacted on.

This helps companies bottomline to convert more, sell more, and churn less.