Data Silos: Here to Stay

October 20, 2016

Data silos have become a permanent part of the landscape. Even if data reside in a cloud, some data are okay for certain people to access. Other data are off limits. Whether the data silo is a result of access controls or because an enthusiastic marketer has a one off storage device in his or her cubbies’ desk drawer, we have silos.

I read “Battling Data Silos: 3 Tips to Finance and Operations Integration.” This is a very good example of providing advice which is impossible to implement. If I were to use the three precepts in an engagement, I have a hunch that a barrel of tar and some goose feathers will be next to my horse and buggy.

What are the “tips”? Here you go.

  1. Conduct a data discovery audit.
  2. Develop a plan
  3. And my fave “Realize the value of the cloud for high performance and scalability.”

Here we go, gentle reader.

The cost of a data discovery audit can be high. The cost of the time, effort, and lost productivity mean that most data audits are limp wash rags. Few folks in an organization know what data are where, who manages those data, and the limits placed on the data. Figuring out the answers to these questions in a company with 25 people is tough. Try to do it for a government agency with dozens of locations and hundreds of staff and contractors. Automated audits can be a help, but there may be unforeseen consequences of sniffing who has what. The likelihood of a high value data discovery audit without considerable preparation, budgeting, and planning is zero. Most data audits like software audits never reach the finish line without a trip to the emergency room.

The notion of a plan for consolidating data is okay. Folks love meetings with coffee and food. A plan allows a professional to demonstrate that work has been accomplished. The challenge, of course, is to implement the plan. That’s another kettle of fish entirely. MBA think does not deliver much progress toward eliminating silos which proliferate like tweets about zombies.

The third point is value. Yep, value. What is value? I don’t know. Cloud value can be demonstrated for specific situations. But the thought of migrating data to a cloud and then making sure that no regulatory, legal, or common sense problems have been avoided is a work in progress. Data management, content controls, and security tasks nudge cloud functions toward one approach: Yet another data silo.

Yep, YADS. Three breezy notions crater due to the gravitational pull of segmented content repositories under the control of folks who absolutely love silos.

Stephen E Arnold, October 20, 2016


One Response to “Data Silos: Here to Stay”

  1. Edward Kelly on November 8th, 2016 7:12 am

    Data Silos is something that is being drummed into IT “professionals” these days who have the urge to want to control every bit of information out their – Oh we don’t want data silos but without data silos many functions of the business would simply not happen. Corporate Software cannot do ll things to all people – it would simply blow the budget and is time consuming – so round and round the IT depart goes sprucing the same old dribble about data silos while the people who get things done use Excel as Access is just a mess. Most IT Departments in Australia think that if its not Microsoft then its just too hard – so everything gets locked down and the business get bogged down – so what do the staff do – they bring in their iPad and laptops to develop the processes they need to get the job done – they bring in their own hardware and sofware to give them the edge above other staff. Im so sick of this “we don’t need any more data silos” and that IT departments have too much say – you want that software you need to write a report and justify the software purchase – so its easier just to get the job done and create a data silo – its faster and gets results – so how big does big data need to be – I think its all done to justify the existance of the IT Department.

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