Data Silos: What are they and how can Alphatec help?

What is a data silo?

A data silo is a collection of data held by one group within an organisation, that is either entirely isolated, or not easily or fully accessible by others within the same organisation.

Individual departments within an organisation require different information to do their work and the term used to describe the separate locations is known as a data or information silo.  Data silos may seem harmless, but they can block information sharing and cross departmental collaboration, and when data is siloed it’s hard for management to gain an overall picture or insight from the companies data.

What can cause data silos?

There are many causes, but some of the common reasons for data and information silos are,

  • Multiple sources of data

Many organisations introduce new software applications that do not integrate with their existing systems.  This may happen because it is very easy for a wide variety of software products to be introduced for a specific purpose but without considering the bigger picture.  This results in the software and the data contained sitting in a silo where only the team involved access it.  This data then, has limited benefit to the wider business because it’s difficult to share or enhance what it holds limiting the value and insight of the data.

In this situation, it isn’t just the lack of additional benefit that you need to consider.  There can be a negative impact on a new piece of software when integration isn’t possible as this can cause data duplication and re-keying, wasting precious time and resources that could be better utilised.  In this situation, it can even compromise the business case which justified the software purchase in the first place.

  • Company growth

When a company grows, infrastructure and processes often fail to scale and so another important consideration when deciding which software solution to implement is the scalability of that software.  Software scalability is critical to support growth, but also to pivot during times of uncertainty and scale back operations as needed.  If software isn’t scalable it can produce data assets that again are usable only by the teams that produced them, and can also result in a backlog of clean-up and integration work for data managers and IT.

  • Organisational structures

When employees pursue department goals instead of company goals it can result in silos.  Furthermore if information systems have restrictive access control and permissioning schemes this can also impact on data sharing.

How can Alphatec’s software solutions minimise the likelihood of data silos?

  • Integration

Alphatec understands that the most successful pieces of software fit into a business not just by fulfilling a task, but by having a much broader impact across the entire organisation.  We build our systems to be open to input from a wide variety of data sources as well as being able to easily share what is in them with other systems.

The way we do that is by embracing the most common way for systems to share data, API (application programming interface).  What this means is we can very easily connect our insurance claims management system with online data capture forms, vehicle fleet databases, or insurer systems to name just a few.  These types of connections remove duplication, keep data up to date and allow seamless communication amongst different departments and stakeholders.

We also appreciate that not all systems can work with API interfaces, so we have a 2nd method where data can be imported and exported in an easy-to-use spreadsheet format, leaving you with very few situations where we can’t help with integrations.

  • Scalability

Alphatec SaaS solutions are hosted in the cloud which means they are scalable giving you the freedom to upgrade and downgrade as your needs change, allowing you to keep costs down and retain flexibility.

  • Inter-departmental collaboration and access control

You may be reading this thinking “so long as I have a system that does what I need, (whether that’s managing works orders, insurance claims, or a system to record how I & my team spend our working hours), I don’t mind if it works for the wider organisation”.  What we would say to this is; think about your day and how often an internal request comes to you where the answer lies in your current system. Wouldn’t it be great if you could share the answer automatically?  Or what about your relying on incoming information from other departments, wouldn’t it be great if you could set up automatic requests and reminders?

The other key thing to mention when it comes to data is the importance of access control.  You as the customer have the ultimate control and decision of what data and information is shared, and what is imported & exported, and when.  We can configure the system so that other teams and stakeholders only see what they need to see, so you aren’t jeopardising the security or privacy of information.

Alphatec has its history in working with data and plenty of experience of system integration, no matter how tricky it may at first appear.  Contact us to find out more www.alphatec.net

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