There has been no greater display of the need for agility in the business than the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures implemented by governments to curb its spread.

Looking locally we’ve seen a number of businesses adapt to the changing face of the economy with some entering entirely new avenues of business. Case in point is Syntech which – before lockdown – dealt exclusively in tech products. Fast forward to today and Syntech is leading the charge to get personal protective gear and medical supplies to those who are in need.

The question that we’ve had since lockdown began back in March is why more businesses aren’t able to rapidly shift what they are able to do and according to senior solutions manager at Atvance Intellect, Enlin Neveling, silos have become a hindrance for many businesses.

A silo, in the sense of a business is a reference to a division operating independently within a business. For the longest time this is simply how businesses operated. There wasn’t a need for the accounting division to speak with the IT team aside from special circumstances so communication between divisions was never encouraged.

But in an age where data drives decision making, the age of the silo is dead in the water.

“Silos limit the sharing of information. It’s that simple and that complex. If one team creates a phenomenal process, they rarely share this with other parts of the company and this inhibits internal collaboration and the overall growth culture of the company,” explains Neveling.

Senior Solutions Manager at Atvance Intellect, Enlin Neveling.

Complexity in simplicity

Now, we’re not saying that eliminating silos in a business is an easy thing to do. There are of course measures that need to be put in place in order to encourage collaboration between divisions and even within divisions.

As information is a key driver this raises concerns for many businesses, especially if that information includes sensitive data.

“Ethical implications and data security are two of the most common challenges that come to mind,” says Neveling. “The promulgation of numerous personal information protection laws and the increase in highly publicised scandals has made many organisations resistant to collecting and processing data. There are risks and costs they’re not keen to engage with.”

Thankfully, there are solutions which can be used to simplify the complexity of legislative compliance and assist in using data to make informed decisions.

What’s more is that Neveling says that not all data is needed to for a business to make decisions.

“One of the most common misconceptions we’ve encountered is that companies think data has to be big to be valuable. Most approach data analytics as a way of collecting everything instead of unpacking the actual needs of the business and then focusing on the data that fulfils those needs. This approach makes projects expensive and daunting,” says the manager.

Taking a tactical approach to data analytics is also good from a cost and environmental perspective. As Veritas Technologies pointed out recently, dark-data may result in 5.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide being pumped into the air.

For this reason alone companies should take a long hard look at how the data they have on hand can be leveraged in an efficient manner that ultimately leads to greater business agility.

This takes time but when silos of information are eliminated, businesses are able to make decisions faster and more simply.

“Build a central data platform that can scale and grow with the business and embed data analysis as part of the business by establishing key metrics that support critical decision-making processes,” advises Neveling.

The world is changing, make sure your business isn’t left behind simply because, “we’ve always done things this way”.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]