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What you need to know about data silos

two women trouble shooting login to their education systemCommunication is the backbone of any successful business or organization. Every day, we send out countless emails, receive calls, and collaborate with peers.

Staying on the same page can only be achieved when everyone has access to the same information. This is where data silos quickly become a problem. The pandemic has seen live chat, video, and email become the preferred methods of daily communications.

And when it comes to modern education, streamlining the flow of communications, as well as critical processes and data is essential.

Read on to learn more about data silos and how they may be impacting your school district. We’ll break down the basics of data silos, why they’re a threat to your school district, and how to adapt.


What Are Data Silos?

A data silo is a term for business information that is tightly contained and challenging to access. This scenario looks like a human resources representative being able to read a certain document, but a manager being left in the dark. As you can plainly see, information that is gated off isn’t exactly useful for maintaining lines of communication.

Do you have data silos in your university? Now’s a good time to reflect.


Why Data Silos Occur

On the one hand, you understand why data isn’t accessible by everybody. Sensitive information is sometimes meant for specific eyes only.

The key is knowing the difference. Data silos occur when a business isn’t attuned to the needs of the collective, gating off general information instead of sharing it. This information can range from highly technical data sets to simple modes of behavior. 

Company Culture

Does your organization have a culture that’s highly strict and well-organized? While this is usually a good thing, you can go overboard and fail to share vital information with surrounding parties. 

You can also go to the other extreme and be too loose with your data policies. As a result, company culture is a big reason why vital information doesn’t reach the right teachers or students.

Organizational Structure

Similar to company culture, the structure of your organization will shift the probability of data silos. Smaller businesses don’t usually have this problem since only a few people pass information around (though it’s still possible). 

Larger, decentralized businesses have a higher risk of experiencing data silos. A fractured, disconnected organization has to go the extra mile to remain on the same page. This can look like students learning vital skills more slowly or teachers handing out the wrong assignments.


What technology do you use as the foundation of your day-to-day communication? This detail is surprisingly overlooked in today’s tech-savvy world.

If one person relies on email, but another person prefers video, you’re going to experience a technological conflict. This issue is a significant problem in the educational field, so now is a great time to prioritize data science.

Business Growth & Acquisitions

The more your business changes, the more you need to adjust behind-the-scenes. A business acquisition can create a wealth of data silos if you’re not careful.

A new business unit or a slew of workers will require you double down on lines of communication, organization structure, and company policy. 

Related: 8 Key Questions to Ask When Choosing a New SIS Solution


Data Silos: Silently Killing Your Company

What’s wrong with a little communication error once in a while? As it stands…quite a lot. 

Communication errors are costly and waste time. 

Data Silos Waste Resources

Information is your trade, no matter the industry or niche you’re in. Data silos leave perfectly good resources just sitting around, either forgotten or misused. 

You could be missing out on an optimization strategy or a legal error because your data is gated off from the right people.

Incomplete Data Sets

Are you filling out spreadsheets with dynamic information? Do you rely on the cloud to keep all your student’s information up-to-date?

Data silos run a high risk of incomplete data sets due to neglect. This affects employee performance and, eventually, your bottom line.

Duplicate Data Platforms and Processes

The flipside to an incomplete data set is a duplicated data set. If you’ve ever wasted time doing the same task twice, you’ll understand the frustration.

Duplicate data platforms should be for your cloud back-up, not your day-to-day needs.

Data Silos Discourage Collaborative Work

How can employees work cohesively if they don’t have the same tools, resources, and data? When you have data silos, you destroy collaboration before it even begins. 

Keeping everyone cooperative means asking questions. Ask yourself how often you check in with your teachers and workers to see how they’re doing. 

Silo Mentality in Departments

Data silos aren’t just a technical problem, but a mental problem. Isolating your information will encourage your team (however unintentionally) to stay disconnected from each other.

A Stanford study published by Forbes discovered that workers with more collaborative encouragement outperformed their solitary peers by 65%. 

Data Security and Regulatory Compliance Issues

Last but not least, data silos are a security threat. This detail overlaps with duplicate data platforms and incomplete sets.

What if your technical or creative data hits a legal snag? A data silo could keep you from addressing it in a timely fashion.

Related: How to Build a Solid Foundation for Digital Education

The pandemic has completely shifted how we look at the educational field. We offer the best in technological innovation to keep students, teachers, and families learning as smoothly as possible.


The Business Costs of Data Silos

Lost productivity doesn’t usually happen in an obvious fashion. It’s not sick days that could hurt your organization, but the slow decrease in productivity over time.

Data silos affect your team’s collaborative instinct and increase the risk of wasted time with duplicate data. It can also impact your school’s ability to address data security, intellectual property, or regulatory compliance. 


Break Down Data Silos

You might be feeling overwhelmed by the number of errors a single data silo can cause you. You’ll be happy to know that breaking down data silos is surprisingly straightforward.

1. Change Company Culture

One or two small data silos don’t usually mean you need to change company culture. However, a higher frequency can be indicative of a larger problem. 

Company culture that wants to hold up to an uncertain future needs a stronger foundation. That means being more communicative, proactive, and open-minded toward change.

2. Centralize Data

If you’re not already using cloud-based software for your business operations, take this as permission to get started. Centralizing your data is a key feature of eliminating data silos.

Instead of fumbling with several incompatible programs, consider making the switch to a centralized hub. You’ll be amazed by how much smoother your school operations are when you eliminate the guesswork.

3. Integrate Data

This third part lines up very closely with the second part. Integrating your data will allow you to enjoy a more robust and updated information system.

Research your SaaS solutions to see how you can integrate your data throughout different departments. We have a few examples you can start with below.

On-Premises ETL Tools

Not sure which ETL tools you can start with? Consider the following to decrease your data silos and boost your team’s productivity:

  • Talend Open Studio & Integration Suite
  • Informatica PowerCenter
  • IBM Information Server (Datastage)

Cloud-Based ETL

Cloud-based tools are prized for being highly flexible in a pinch. Once you update your data, it’s easily accessible to everyone in the department.

  • Skyvia
  • Fivetran
  • Stitch Data


Custom programming offers you a finer level of detail. These scripting tools will allow you a more hands-off approach to gathering and transferring data.

  • Peti
  • Bubbles
  • Singer

4. Data Governance Framework

What’s the best way to handle a data silo? Prevent it from happening in the first place. This is relatively straightforward to do after you make some structural and cultural changes.

Your framework should have the following details in place:

  • Mapping data flows
  • Quantifying and organizing data assets
  • Data governance program

Related: AI and Workload Management for Teachers


Last Word on Data Silos

What you need to know about data silos is how serious they are…and how easily they can be prevented.

Data silos are a costly behind-the-scenes error. They affect employee productivity, reduce collaborative efforts, and affect your bottom line. With the aid of a data governance framework, you can prevent data silos from happening in the first place. 

Do you need help centralizing and integrating your data? We’re ready to help you and your organization. Contact us today to start your demo.

Book your demo with an Edsembli education specialist today

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