The ancient Greek storyteller Aesop coined the famous phrase, “United we stand, divided we fall.” Although the world has changed drastically since the first utterance of that wisdom, it applies today – even (or especially) in the realm of data management.
As the amount of available data has exploded, businesses face the challenge of figuring out how to store and analyze it properly. Companies with numerous departments operating in relative isolation and utilizing multiple technologies can end up dealing with siloed data that hampers operations. This is a common challenge: 90 percent of IT leaders worldwide report dealing with issues stemming from data silos, according to the 2022 Connectivity Benchmark Report from MuleSoft Research.
Fractured data storage can also hurt your cybersecurity posture and make your organization more vulnerable to breaches. Fortunately, you can take steps to tear down silos and lower your risk level. If you’re an IT or business leader grappling with a fractured data center situation, here’s what you need to know about how silos form, why they’re a security hazard, and how to fix the problem.
What are data silos?
A data silo or information silo is a repository maintained by one department or group within your organization that’s difficult or impossible for the rest of the company to access, according to TechTarget. They commonly form within large enterprises with various departments that have their own budgets and objectives. However, silos can also pop up in smaller businesses, depending on their data management strategies.
Data can end up cloistered within your company for several reasons. Here are some of the most typical issues that lead to isolated information repositories, according to TechTarget and Salesforce.
- Interdepartmental competition: If different groups within your business feel they need to guard information to come out ahead of other departments, you’ll often end up with silos.
- Decentralized IT management: Corporate data can end up fractured if units each make their own technology purchasing decisions and utilize different solutions that aren’t integrated.
- Acquisitions and growth: Silos can occur if a company grows rapidly, adds new departments or merges with another business.
- Non-collaborative corporate structure and culture: If the departments within an enterprise don’t communicate often and primarily operate independently, they likely won’t prioritize making their data repositories accessible to the rest of the organization. This can also occur if the leadership team doesn’t normalize information sharing across the company and define common objectives across departments.
Why are data silos problematic?
Fractured data can compromise your company’s cybersecurity posture by making it harder to oversee the gathering and analysis of information, according to Qualtrics. If you lack visibility into data across your organization, you might not know if staff members are failing to adhere to best practices or relying on unapproved solutions for storage, which increases the chances of a leak or security incident.
Siloed data can also have a negative impact beyond elevating your breach risk. Here are just a few of the main issues they can create for your business, according to TechTarget and Qualtrics.
- Duplicate data stored by different departments, leading to higher than necessary IT costs and redundant labor
- Inconsistencies between data sets, bringing down overall organizational data integrity
- Reinforcement of non-collaborative operations and lack of communication between business units
Overall, data silos come with plenty of downsides. While their formation is understandable in many companies, they’re a phenomenon you should watch out for and address ASAP to maintain the highest possible levels of security, productivity and efficiency.
How to eliminate data silos
If you realize data silos have cropped up within your organization, it’s critical that you take steps to break them down as soon as possible for the sake of security, data integrity and cost management. Here’s what you can do to repair fractured data, as advised by TechTarget and Qualtrics.
- Identify all data silos within your business. Distribute a survey to all department heads and data managers to gain insight into what information they’re storing and how, as well as who can access it.
- Create and execute a plan for data integration. TechTarget explains that the simplest way to get rid of silos is to integrate them. For example, the extract, transform and load (ETL) method involves extracting information from the source systems, consolidating it, and transferring it to a single system (e.g., a data warehouse).
- Establish a companywide data governance program. Train everyone on standard data management policies and procedures.
- Foster a collaborative company culture. Siloed data is often a symptom of a larger problem involving a lack of communication among departments. Encourage the different units of your business to connect and share more.
If you’d like to learn more about cybersecurity and data management, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of trusted technology advisors. After evaluating your needs and situation, we can offer strategic IT consulting services and connect you with leading cybersecurity and data center service providers. For details, please call 877-599-3999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.