May 182012
computer and web tools are breaking down business silos

During our ABC radio discussion on politics and social media with Jeff Jarvis, we inevitably came around to the issue of sharing information.

We’ve covered the risks of personal sharing extensively and Jeff’s view is that our perceptions of privacy are evolving as we explore what is acceptable or tolerable in an information rich world.

Overlooked in this discussion is just how important sharing is for businesses – particularly in breaking down silos within an organisation.

As organisations grow, silos develop as various groups or departments grow to address specific functions. It’s a natural process.

However silos can damage businesses as valuable business knowledge is kept within the group rather than shared with the entire organisation.

This is the opportunity we see now in the various cloud computing, social media and big data tools that have developed to help people, gather, curate and share information.

Today there is no excuse for critical customer information sitting in the call centre logs not being available to marketing, sales or management teams. That is just one example of thousands.

Over time we’ll see businesses owners and managers develop the skills and tools to use data more effectively. This is already happening as many IT people move from Information Technology to Knowledge Management.

Business silos won’t ever be fully eliminated; in many ways they are necessary as you can’t expect the company accountant to know everything the customer service or sales staff do.

Those businesses who are successful will be those who overcome internal politics and resist the managerial urge to build little empires, information is too important to be hoarded by middle management princelings.

In the 19th Century power came in the form of steam engines, today it comes in knowledge. How well are you harnessing the power in your business?

  One Response to “Eroding business silos”

  1. Hi, I realise this is quite an old post but it’s interesting. In my experience working for large corporations the culture swings back and forth over time between ‘breaking down silos’ and building them up again, as each way has its benefits and drawbacks. Perhaps one of the great hopes for Big Data is that it will no longer matter whether operations are siloed or not, as all info will be accessible no matter how operations are structured. In theory, I suppose.

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