Data Silos are a problem in every organization. It is easy to assume that larger organizations like Facebook might have better organization and control of the data they collect than smaller organizations, but that assumption is incorrect. For example, check this Huffington post, Facebook Doesn't Know Where Your Data Is, What Its Engineers Are Doing With It.
We have worked with all sizes of organizations and have seen data silos everywhere.
What are data silos?
A data silo is a repository of data that is sitting in one department or even a person within an organization that is disconnected or separate from the whole organization. Many times these data are connected to other data sources but have evolved over a period of time so they appear different from the original data source.
An organization can have a few to hundreds of these data silos depending on the size and structure of the organization.
These data silos present huge data privacy issues and can be a liability for an organization.
Why do data silos occur?
There are plenty of reasons for data silos, some of them are
- Organic growth of the organization means individual departments and people build their own databases or data storage systems. These systems are discounted from the central data. For example, the sales department collected Names, Email addresses, etc. at a conference and store them in Excel Workbooks, Google Sheets, etc.
- Third-Party Data Collection Application - A lot of organizations used 3rd party applications such as your email systems to collect and manage data
- Third-party Applications that use the data - Data is used in almost all applications these days. This means you might upload your 1st party data into these systems and manage them there.
- Data for a particular department - As I said before, data is used everywhere; if a specific department needs the data, then a subset of the data is created from them. This data could be a snapshot of the data at a given time or could be a live pipeline. The particular department might then further enhance that data with some of the data thus creating their own data warehouse. Over time that data looks very different from the original data thus creating a data silo.
How does it impact Digital Marketing and Analytics?
Marketing is data-driven today. If you are not using data from marketing then you are heading toward a disaster. Being data-driven means you will be engaging in almost all of the activities that in listed in the "Why do data silos occur" section. We have helped several organizations bring data from Digital Analytics (Adobe Analytics, Google Analytics, Piwik PRO etc.), Google Ads, Facebooks Ads, Linkedin Ads, 3rd Party Ads system, Marketing Automation system (emails system), CRM, etc., and create marketing data warehouses.
Creating these systems is relatively easy. Data pipelines are created by using 3rd party applications or APIs and then the data is stored in the data warehouse. However managing that data to ensure that you remove the data that you are not legally required to store anymore or comply with local, country, regional (GDPR) or global laws require you to have robust data management, control, and deletion process and systems.
This presents an opportunity
You should always be looking for opportunities to add more value to the organization and this is your opportunity to lead the initiative of removing data silos and/or creating a system for managing the data that's scattered throughout the organization. When you do that, you will be far ahead of many in this profession and solidify your career.
if you have any questions then do not hesitate to reach out to me.
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