How to ditch data silos and go data-driven

Cloud symbol overlaying an image of servers in a data center.
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Intuition, experience, and qualitative knowledge may be good, but backing those elements with data truly unlocks their power. 

About the author

Julius Cerniauskas, CEO at Oxylabs.

Today’s volatile economic climate requires sophisticated analytics. Regardless of your industry, location, or business size, you need data on your side to provide accurate, timely, and practical insights.

More data, however, doesn’t always equal better results. How you collect, manage, and distribute that data has a greater impact on its potential to transform your business.

Do you know where your data is?

Whether it’s customer information, operational metrics, sales figures or information extracted from public websites, data analytics benefit every part of your business. The greater the capability you have to share that data across departments, the better decisions managers can make.

To illustrate this concept, let’s take the example of a decrease in sales. Managers may see those numbers going down, but do they know why? It could be the result of a poorly executed marketing campaign, negative reviews on a public website, or a failing SEO strategy. Not being able to see all that data at once impedes our ability to diagnose the problem and take timely action while the issue is still developing.

Therefore, data transparency should be a priority for all businesses in today's competitive business landscape. And that brings us to one of the most significant obstacles facing most businesses today: the dreaded data silo.

Siloed data is a thing of the past

Is your data siloed? Before answering that question, let’s first consider what a silo actually is - a tall cylinder typically made of wood or concrete that is used to store material such as coal or grain. The stronger and more leak-proof a silo is in this case, the better.

What’s good for grain or coal, however, is not good for data. When data is held in silos, it’s cut off from the rest of the organization. In most cases, this isn’t done on purpose because most businesses use different software across departments, resulting in the production of data that remains within that specific part of the organization.

There are many reasons for why this occurs. One of the primary causes is related to technological factors that prevent application integration between areas of the business. Another is attributed to rapid organizational growth, and a resulting structure where collaboration is difficult across departments. In this case, the development of the organization outpaced its technological innovation - which then takes us back to the first cause (which exacerbates the problem).

How siloed data hurts your business

Siloed data impairs decision-making. Silos are like walls in your organization preventing the flow of information. They prevent managers from consolidating data to make critical business decisions that impact all parts of the organization.

Siloed data divides your organization. Silos compartmentalize an organization and hinder collaboration. When departments are divided on data lines, the lack of transparency impedes employees from being able to collaborate on solving problems, which then prevents them from achieving shared business objectives. Additionally, it may result in soured relations between colleagues who might see data as something to be guarded.

Silos decrease the value of data. As the saying goes, “the value of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. This is especially true for data. A data set used by one department may hold immense value for another department because data is typically the result of multiple business activities. Keeping data separate in that sense not only prevents collaboration and hinders decision-making - it diminishes its overall value.

Solutions for getting rid of data silos

Data silos are created at the root of your data management strategy. When you have different databases that are isolated from one another, digital walls emerge that can be difficult to overcome.

Organizations typically handle that issue by importing and exporting databases, and then combining that data in software programs. That used to work in the past, but the increasingly dynamic nature of data results in information that may be outdated by the time it reaches management. This is especially true for real-time data that’s continuously being fed into your applications.

Integration is the solution

Since different software programs are managing data, the solution is to integrate those systems so that data flows freely. Here are three top ways to ditch the data silos and go data-driven. 


If you are using cloud-based software, Integration Platforms as a Service (iPaaS) is a solution that can create a centralized data ecosystem that allows you to add, manage and modify data across all your operations. Examples include Mulesoft, Zapier, Dell Boomi, Informatica and Workato.

Software platforms

Companies looking for an “all-in-one” solution can opt to switch their existing software to a unified platform that offers different programs that can be used throughout the organization.

There are numerous software platforms available on the market today with unique tools that can be tailored to the functionality and data structures required by your organization. These solutions may feature accounting, member management, e-Learning and other software programs offered in one unified solution. Besides increased transparency and efficiency, this solution can simplify workflows and improve productivity.

Native or In-App Integrations

Some applications have an open Application Programming Interface (API) that allows developers to connect systems through native integrations. While this option offers the greatest customization, it is also the most technically complex.

Not all applications allow native integrations, however this is changing as the demand for integrated software continues to grow. As a result, many CRM, accounting, e-commerce and billing apps are being integrated through open APIs, allowing for increased data connectivity throughout organizations.

Native integrations may sound like iPaaS, however they are very different. Native integrations are typically offered as an in-app option by SaaS vendors (often gated behind higher-priced packages) that are connected one-by-one. By contrast, iPaaS connects numerous apps in one place, offering a centralized solution.

Ready to get started with data-driven decision-making?

If your data is still sequestered into silos, your business is probably not reaching its full potential. Solutions such as software platforms, native or in-app integrations, and iPaaS are available to transform your organization into a robust data-driven enterprise.

Once you leverage the power of data within your business, consider the possibilities of using publicly scraped data to further enhance your business strategy.

Julius Cerniauskas is CEO at Oxylabs