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How Manufacturers Can Avoid Data Silos

Breaking down the barriers to data access and visualization pays off in a number of ways.

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Data silos can be a significant issue for manufacturers. When data is hidden, it becomes difficult or impossible to get a complete picture of what is happening in the business. This can lead to problems, such as decreased efficiency and inaccurate decision-making. This post will discuss how manufacturers can avoid data silos and create a more efficient business.

What Are Data Silos?

A data silo is a term used to describe isolated data storage within a manufacturing company. Data silos can exist within departments, teams, or even individual employees. 

There are a few key ways data becomes siloed in factories or manufacturing companies. One way is when data is scattered across different departments or business units. This makes it difficult to get a holistic view of the company’s performance.

Another way data can become siloed is when there are multiple copies of the same data set, often with different versions, which can lead to inconsistencies. Additionally, data can become siloed when it’s not properly categorized or tagged, making it hard to find and use. Data silos can have several negative consequences for businesses.

  • It can make it difficult for decision-makers to get the information to make informed decisions.
  • Data silos can lead to inefficiencies as employees waste time searching for data or trying to reconcile different versions of the same data set. 
  • Data silos can create security risks as sensitive information is stored in multiple places and may not be adequately secured.

Here are five simple ways manufacturers can avoid data silos.

  1. Establish policies for data governance. The first and most important step you can take to break down silos is to develop policies for governing the data. Data governance helps to ensure that everyone in a factory understands how the data should be used, accessed, and shared. Having these policies in place will help prevent silos from forming in the first place. According to Gartner data, 87 percent of manufacturers have minimal business intelligence and analytics expertise. The research found these firms less likely to have a robust data governance strategy and more prone to data silos. Data governance efforts that improve synergy and maximize data effectiveness can help manufacturing companies reduce data silos. The rules, ownership, and structure for data management throughout the factory are all defined by a data governance framework.
  2. Cultivating a culture of collaboration. Another way to break down data silos is to cultivate a culture of collaboration. Encourage employees to share information and knowledge across departments. When everyone is working together, it will be easier to avoid duplication of effort and wasted time.
    To break down data silos, manufacturers should move to a culture that encourages collaboration and communication from the top down. Engage all teams equally when developing new solutions or data connections to ensure that every department's requirements are met and get buy-in and ownership from across the company. This makes it easier for your teams to connect and communicate. Even something as basic as re-distributing email distribution lists might help you create cohesion.
  3. Upgrading and centralizing technology infrastructure. It’s always good to keep up with market changes and the ever-growing technology. One way to break down data silos is by upgrading and centralizing your technology infrastructure. By investing in a centralized system, you can ensure that everyone has access to the same information. This will help to avoid duplication of effort and wasted time. Invest in new technologies that allow disparate data from several platforms to be integrated into one location. The data should be available for everyone in the company to access and utilize. To put it in another way, get to a technological age where your data points can communicate with each other.
  4. Investing in universal dashboards and tools. Investing in universal dashboards and tools can help to break down data silos. By providing employees access to the same information, you can ensure that everyone is working with the same data. This will help to avoid duplication of effort and wasted time.
    Mergers and acquisitions are a daily occurrence. While beneficial in the long run, these transactions can create havoc in the short term because of incompatible legacy systems, disparate data systems, and contrasting corporate cultures that may lead to data silos that hinders efficiency. For example, when the electronics company Dell merged with EMC and VMware in 2016, the most immediate problem was a lack of communication between employees who had been part of different companies. The brand needed to work quickly to integrate the networks and legacy systems to break down data silos. For Dell, the solution was to invest in real-time technologies and dashboards. Staff unfamiliar with one another can still obtain essential data and papers without looking for a data owner or going through a gatekeeper.
  5. Take time and sort through any outdated data. Finally, take the time to sort through any outdated data for maintenance purposes. You can plan and schedule maintenance work ahead of time - when a project is supposed to begin, decide who is in charge and how the work will be done. This will help to ensure that everyone is working with the most up-to-date information. The best way to avoid data silos is to integrate your various business applications. You could integrate the solution you're looking for into your manufacturing company's applications you already use as native or in-app integrations. If not, iPaaS solutions are there for the taking.

Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO of Limble CMMS.

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