Information silos have posed a major problem for enterprises, and that was true even when people actually went into the office. (In case you don’t remember, that’s the place where you used to go to attend meetings, sit at a faux-wood desk, and get free coffee.)

Now, the challenges of information silos seem poised to get even more intractable. As technology environments grow increasingly dynamic, complex, and interrelated, having silos across planning, app delivery, and IT operations creates a myriad of problems.

While most IT leaders focus on the technological implications of these silos, there are also equally problematic effects on people. By creating finger-pointing and inhibiting collaboration, these silos have a negative impact on employee morale, stifling motivation and engagement. The good news is BizOps can help.

Confronting the Barriers to Transformation

A recent Gartner survey of CIOs found that when it comes to moving beyond initial phases of digital business transformation, the top three barriers encountered are culture, resources, and talent.[1] We can interpret this in a number of ways, but we’re hearing CIOs say: “If I didn’t have to deal with people, transformation would be a piece of cake.” Facetiousness aside, the obstacles to transformation are clearly people related.

Information Silos are a People Problem Too

There are a number of reasons why people present such an imposing obstacle to change: fear of change and difficulty keeping pace with change are two significant components that jump immediately to mind.

Here are five key implications information silos—the disparate, disconnected sets of technology and data that proliferate across the enterprise—can have on individuals and teams.

The Downside of Ownership

In many ways it’s a good thing when staff members and teams take ownership. It’s vital for teams to be accountable and to take pride in and take responsibility for the systems they’re associated with.

However, when it comes to information silos, this sense of ownership can work against the organization. If a team has ownership of a technology silo, there’s a natural inclination for them to have an “us” and “them” mindset, one where their data, views, and insights are “right,” and the intelligence from any other sources is inherently suspect.

Internal Competition

Whenever there’s an “us” and a “them,” it can commonly lead to “us” against “them.” When teams have ownership of a silo, they want to protect, justify, and rationalize that silo. They want to retain and grow funding for that silo.

This is the kind of mindset that fosters the wrong kind of competition: internal vs externally focused competition. Speaking of decentralized, segmented organizations, an IDC analyst wrote, “For enterprises, generally with a portfolio of businesses and products—each striving to grow independently—this led not only to redundancy and inconsistency, but it also often led to internal competition being more ferocious than external competition.”[2]

Faulty Planning

When the focus is on the silo, it shapes faulty planning, investments, and decision making. For example, investments are focused on silo preservation rather than on making the investments that yield business outcomes.

Finger Pointing

A team’s focus on information silos can have a major impact on operations. Incident management is a clear example of this. When issues arise, instead of truly focusing on what matters—that is, finding and fixing the issue—the inclination is to pin the blame elsewhere and to retain their system’s good standing.

Lacking Purpose

If teams are focused on their silos, they’re more likely to be missing the bigger picture. They’re less likely to understand how their systems contribute to the larger organization, and ultimately to the business. When this is the case, teams are missing out on a big intrinsic motivator. When you consider that one-quarter of employees are “actively disengaged,”[3] leaders need to maximize any motivational factors available.

How BizOps Can Help

It is critical to be aware of the multi-faceted implications of information silos, and how they affect the three top barriers to digital transformation: culture, resources, and talent. While there’s a variety of potential solutions and approaches to this, BizOps is increasingly key. While DevOps has enabled teams to make strides towards continual improvement of software quality, it doesn’t necessarily account for business outcomes. In comparison, BizOps helps put business outcomes at the center of everything, from value management to development to IT operations.

An IDC analyst offered a great distillation of some of the objectives of BizOps: “BizOps uses data-driven, cross-functional teams to optimize operations, restart stalled or failing digital initiatives, combine siloed digital projects, explore new ideas, or accelerate existing digital strategies.”[4] In particular, it is this ability to combine siloed digital projects that can present massive potential for accelerating digital transformation.

Breaking down information silos is an imperative for digital transformation. In this effort, it’s vital to acknowledge the deep and persistent impact silos can have on people. By employing BizOps methodologies, teams can be united by a clear purpose, one centered on business outcomes. Therefore, BizOps can be a great way to relegate silos to their rightful place: the past.

If you’re interested in learning more about BizOps, be sure to review our eBook, “The Definitive Guide to BizOps: Meeting the Digital Transformation Imperative Through 2021 and Beyond.” This guide examines why BizOps is becoming such an important imperative and it reveals the essential requirements needed to make BizOps a reality. You can also find more information on BizOps at broadcom.com/bizops.

 

 

Sources:

[1] Diane Berry, Lily Mok, Gartner, “Motivating the Unmotivated,” November 7, 2019

[2] Marc Strohlein, Joseph C. Pucciarelli, Mike Rosen, IDC, “BizOps: The CIO’s Guide to Multiplied Business Transformation”

[3] Gallup, “State of the Global Workplace,” https://www.gallup.de/183833/state-the-global-workplace.aspx

[4] Marc Strohlein, Joseph C. Pucciarelli, Mike Rosen, IDC, “BizOps: The CIO’s Guide to Multiplied Business Transformation”

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