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Why Are Data Silos Problematic? How to Fix 3 Top Problems

Rachel Nizinski, Appian
May 30, 2023

Your teams need constant connectivity to your organization's data and systems to operate effectively and thrive. And with digital transformation spurring a more rapid pace of innovation and technology adoption, this need for connected, democratized data is on the rise. That makes data silos an enemy you can no longer tolerate. Data fabric is the modern answer for eliminating data silos.

Data silos put your present and future business at risk.

Data silos occur when data is stored in separate systems or departments without proper integration. With the number of systems, applications, and processes that most organizations need to run their business, it’s easy to see why today’s enterprise data is so scattered. But why are data silos such a problem? 

When your organization’s data lives in disconnected places, your ability to use that data for better decision-making dwindles. Productivity might drop. The data you use to make decisions might be incomplete, inaccurate, or inaccessible. And your customers and employees will suffer  the consequences of processes, services, and products that don’t fully meet their needs.

That’s why data silos are so problematic. They affect every aspect of your business, and without a data management strategy to address the continuous sprawl of technology and data, the data silo problem becomes increasingly difficult to solve.

[ Want to learn more about how to solve your data silo problems and speed up innovation? Get the eBook: The Data Fabric Advantage. ]

Data silos slow transformation.

Data silos are often associated with failed digital transformation efforts, complex data integrations and migrations, and lack of visibility into business processes. 

Not only might you feel the painful sting of disconnected data in your day-to-day work, it's also affecting your organization's overall performance. What’s more, data silos stunt your ability to leverage automation to improve your processes due to a lack of connectivity between your people and processes.

3 top problems caused by data silos.

1. Limited data visibility and access.

Most business processes rely on many departments to complete. Take a moment to think about one of yours. Maybe it’s processing a claim, onboarding a new customer, completing a credit and rebill process, or resolving a support ticket. Now picture all of the big steps involved in that process from start to finish. Then add in all the little steps, and it’s easy to see how limited data access can quickly create bottlenecks and inefficiencies.

Without access to real-time, integrated data, teams may face challenges in coordinating efforts, sharing information, and resolving issues promptly. This lack of visibility can impede analysis, hinder strategic planning, and limit the ability to make informed business decisions.

2. Inaccurate and inconsistent data.

But data access alone isn’t enough for running a data-driven enterprise. The data your teams and systems use also needs to be synchronized, accurate, and up to date. Think about a time the data you relied on was inaccurate. Did it affect the way you planned a project? Did it result in an unnecessary business decision or maybe even a customer service error?

When data is duplicated or updated in one system without these changes synchronized across other systems, discrepancies occur. Teams and systems then use that conflicting or outdated information to make decisions, often leading to errors, unreliable reporting, and missed opportunities.

3. Inefficient data management.

Data silos often happen by accident. As your enterprise grows, your systems and teams do too, and the new solutions you adopt to address business needs might not integrate well with other systems. It’s also costly and impractical to bring in the talent and resources necessary to manage these complex data integrations.

Consolidating information from different sources requires a lot of manual effort and complex data extraction processes, wasting time and money. As IT teams struggle to do more with less, the fragmentation of your data grows.

Data fabric is the answer to siloed data and systems.

The good news is, there’s a solution to your data silo problems that doesn’t involve time-consuming and expensive migration efforts or complex integration methods. 

Data fabric is the latest evolution in data management strategy. Think of data fabric as a virtualized database that connects all of your data, wherever it lives. Unlike data lakes, data warehouses, or data mesh, data fabric connects your enterprise solutions and legacy systems while keeping your data in place. 

[ Want to learn about how data fabric works and real-world benefits? Get the eBook: Data Fabric Guide. ]

Data fabric creates a single source of truth for your enterprise data. This makes it easier for sales teams, marketing teams, customer experience teams, IT, and everyone in between to access information for better decision-making. It also helps create a more data-oriented company culture, so you can better align business goals, streamline customer journeys, and build more efficient business operations.

Advanced solutions like the Appian’s data fabric create relationships between data points and establish a unified data model across your enterprise systems. Customer data from Salesforce, service records from Oracle, and purchase history from Microsoft Azure SQL Server can be merged into a unified view of customer data, for example. 

Data fabric then keeps all your information in sync so it can be used with a process automation platform to create rich dashboards, automate work, deliver interactive web and mobile applications, and drive smarter decisions by humans and AI. 

How can data fabric transform your organization’s data management strategies? Watch the on-demand webinar