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What You Need to Know About Data Silos, Data Fiber, and Data Mesh

Author: Bankim Sheth | 7 min read | September 29, 2022


Virtually every company has (or has had) data silos. Traditionally, data silos weren’t a problem, but in today’s data intensive business environment, they no longer service your data management capabilities you need to be competitive.

Let’s discuss how data silos get established, why they don’t work today, and how data fiber and data mesh frameworks can help you manage or eliminate them.

How Did We End Up with Data Silos?

Data silos started quite innocently. Department after department found tools to help them get their work done, and as a result, mission-critical data became isolated in different departments. Here are two of the key issues that created data silos.

The Evolution of Business Software

The sales department is a good example of how software evolution created silos. When Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems first became available, sales teams were excited to have the automation they needed to improve and streamline their sales process.

Sales teams could install CRM software without bothering the IT department, and keep track of prospect and client information, document discussions they had, schedule times to touch base with their contacts, and much more. As the technology evolved, sales teams could set up automated emails and use other tools to nurture prospects. As a result, they created a data silo intended to serve their needs, and other departments found software to solve their problems, too. Individual departments did not consider developing an integrated platform.

How Businesses are Structured

Traditionally, businesses grew in terms of relatively independent departments. Departments like sales, marketing, customer service, manufacturing, and accounting worked hard to improve their business processes and automation became an important part of that evolution. However, there wasn’t a strong focus on collaboration among departments, and each department frequently developed its own data repositories and guarded them carefully.

Why Data Silos Are No Longer Effective?

As the business environment started moving toward becoming data driven, it became obvious that data silos were going to prevent businesses from reaching their goals and strategic objectives. Here are just some of the reasons why.

Data Silos Can’t Keep Up with the Speed of Today’s Digital World

Businesses need to be agile when responding to changes in their marketplace in today’s digital world. A business that can’t spot trends and get ahead of the crowd isn’t going to be competitive. Spotting market trends takes a perspective that spans sales, marketing, customer service, and more. When data is in silos, it won’t be possible for company executives to get the organization-wide perspective they require.

Data Silos Don’t Support Trusted Company Data

To make data-driven decisions, a business needs to trust the data that is available. When data is in silos, the odds are good that there will be redundant and conflicting data stored in different silos, meaning that the quality and consistency of your data is low. If your business can’t trust the data that is available, it will be virtually impossible to make data-driven decisions that everyone in the organization supports. Even worse, you could end up making the wrong decisions based on low quality data.

Data Silos Increase Security Risks

Data silos typically establish different levels of cybersecurity. Some silos may include data stored on employees’ devices in the form of spreadsheets or documents. Some departments may have strict cybersecurity processes, while others don’t. Avoiding cyberattacks and complying with privacy laws can be a nightmare; if a breach occurs , it can be very costly and put the company at risk.

Data Silos Hurt the Customer Experience

Your customers are getting much more technology savvy and their expectations are increasing on a regular basis. Customers expect you to be able to provide a seamless experience, regardless of who they interact with in your business.

For example, if a customer calls in to your customer service department, they expect the agent to know that their last two orders have been mishandled and to access the data the customer needs to feel comfortable that the same problem won’t happen again.

If a prospect has been the recipient of an email campaign from the marketing department, they will expect that when they decide to call a salesperson, that person will know what they’re interested in. None of these types of things are possible if every department is in their own silo with no enterprise view of the data.

Data Fabric and Data Mesh: The New Way to Address Data Silo Issues

You’ll be hearing a lot about data fabric and data mesh, as these concepts are receiving a great deal of attention in the data management profession as it’s redefining business processes. The challenges presented by traditional data management practices have encouraged experts in the industry to define more robust modernized solutions, which includes data fabric and data mesh.

Both of these solutions are frameworks for the managing of data. They both use various technologies to achieve their purposes. Further, they aren’t mutually exclusive. Depending on your requirements, you may need to use a data fabric, a data mesh, or both.

Data fabric is intended to provide an overall view of the performance of your business and can consolidate data from various sources.

Data mesh gives responsibility to each business domain to prepare its data to be utilized within business intelligence apps. This approach focuses on creating a self-serve data platform.

If you are looking for alternatives to your existing data management approach, Datavail can help. Our data analytics services range from auditing your data plan to identify the applications that would elevate your data analytics, consulting with you on data integration, building data warehouses and data lakes that can lead you toward a data fabric or data mesh approach.

For more information, download our white paper, “What Can Data Fabric and Data Mesh Do for Your Data Management Approach?” or contact the experts at Datavail to learn how we can help you to increase your competitive edge with modern data management.

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