Company culture issues and data silos (and how to solve it)

21.08.2020

When data silos arise your first thought may be of software problems. But often the issue goes much deeper. In fact, company culture and data management are intrinsically linked.

An uncommunicative culture will create data silos and increase the likelihood of a cyber attack. That’s why it’s important to foster a data-driven mindset and an open workplace. In this article we’ll discuss how culture can impact silos and the three main methods of combating this.

In what ways are data silos a cultural issue?

What is a data silo? A data silo happens when certain information is held in one place, and not easily accessed by other groups. This often occurs either when software, tools or processes are not shared across departments.

On one hand, this could be due to poor data management or isolated platforms. But that would be a simple challenge to fix. Instead, it’s often a result of larger strategic and cultural problems.

The way teams work together is a key factor in the creation of data silos. Many companies don’t have the internal structure to promote data-driven work. For example, their teams don’t have the right skills, departments don’t communicate, or management teams don’t value data insights.

The cost of data silos can be significant. When information is isolated, data analysis doesn’t get shared or factored into business decisions. Yet the process of collecting and scanning data continues. This ultimately slows down operations and promotes the mentality that big data isn’t useful.

It can also have a negative impact on employee morale. Data teams may feel their work isn’t being valued and the lack of inter-departmental communication can stifle development. 

How can you solve the problem of data silos in company culture?

So, to solve common data management challenges, and begin connecting data silos, you need more than just the right technology. If you’re having problems, the first place to look is at your internal culture.

Here are the main ways you can change company culture to help eradicate data silos: 

  • Promote transparency: Data is much more effective when all teams are working with the same information. Aligning your departmental strategies is sure to improve performance.
  • Be proactive: Don’t just turn to data when you think you need it. Consistently maintain, track and clean-out your databases so you always have the latest insights.
  • Communication: Encourage more communication and collaboration between departments. This will prevent data silos and give everybody greater insight into their collective objectives.
  • Data-centred mentality: Put data at the forefront of your business decisions and strategies. This will ensure it’s properly managed and integrated into operations.
  • Board-level engagement: Silos are bound to happen if management culture doesn’t promote the use of data. Everyone needs to be on board, starting at the top.
  • Training: Make sure everyone knows how to use the software and the data. This helps you to get more valuable insights and avoids mismanagement and silos.
  • Hiring: To avoid silos, hiring people with the right data skills needs to be a priority. A data transformation can’t happen without it.

How can DataOps (data operations) prevent data silos?

What is DataOps?

Data operations is an approach to data management and analytics. It helps improve how people gather, maintain, and apply data to maximise business intelligence. A key aspect of DataOps is that it aligns your data activity with your core business objectives.

What is its role in preventing data silos?

DataOps tools break down silos by driving collaboration, data organisation, and data-centric operations. The distributed data architecture allows all employees to access and exploit data analytics.

When analytics are integrated with your overall business strategy, data becomes the core of day-to-day work. Data silos are less likely to occur because your team values and frequently utilises shared data.

How can organisations use DataOps to improve their data management?

DataOps transforms how companies manage their data, through their operational processes and software. In short, it structures your data so people can get the right data, at the right time, in the right place. The way to get the most out of your data operations is to ensure this methodology is implemented across all teams and with the correct training.

How can DevOps prevent data silos?

What is DevOps?

The aim of DevOps is to fast-track the creation of quality software and applications. By combining software development with IT operations, teams communicate better which improves delivery.

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What is its role in preventing data silos?

DevOps helps break down information silos through building a collective mentality and changing culture. At its core, it’s about ensuring different departments collaborate towards a common goal. This promotes greater transparency, more meetings, and data sharing between teams. Working together also generates high-quality delivery which improves morale and development.

How can companies use DevOps to improve their data management?

Implementing DevOps is a key step in investing more in digital transformation. IT is essential across all departments, and DevOps prioritises this kind of technology to drive business success. It takes time to do this – you need to integrate and automate your IT systems and your departmental processes. But, ultimately, it creates supportive IT structures for your data and prevents silos. Plus, automation will empower seamless workflows that speed up delivery.

How can DevSecOps prevent data silos?

What is DevSecOps?

DevSecOps is short for development, security and operations. This involves similar methods to DevOps, but with a focus on security rather than delivery. In the past, cyber security has been an isolated department of which most employees took no notice. But DevOps aims to make every staff member accountable and implement security measures at scale.

RELATED: DevSecOps for Everyone

What is its role in preventing data silos?

Silos in cyber security happen when a security team needs to approve every deployment. Inevitably, this gets cumbersome and causes many slowdowns to essential work. Now organisations want to take the pressure off their security teams and streamline defence processes. Introducing automation, intelligent threat analysis, and integrated network protection helps break these silos. It also provides greater visibility across all security activity and data, so teams can plan ahead instead of being reactive.

How can companies use DevSecOps to improve their data management?

DevSecOps uses tools that integrate with other platforms. Companies can implement these and educate their teams on how to use them. This boosts efficiency and communication, while driving a proactive, data-driven culture.

For efficient integration of platforms, DevSecOps uses shift left strategy to incorporate security checks as early on in the development process as possible. This makes for quicker and better-quality progress when creating software.

At the initial stages of DevOps people can implement linting, opensource, static analysis, and container scans to test their software security. Here are some examples of platforms that can help you complete this:

  • SonarQube
  • BlackDuck
  • CheckMarx
  • Trufflehog
  • Aquasec

Supporting these actions with an organisational culture of Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD), ensures DevOps operations are adopted across company department. This starts with the software development teams implementing measures such as branch policies in version controlling and implementing infrastructure as code (IaC) which enable them to more frequently test, develop, and update code.

In tandem, organisations need to drive a policy shift in support, such as applying best practices through gated pipelines (PRs policies) using configuration tools, pipeline platforms, and company standard templates. Some examples include:

  • Ansible
  • Terraform
  • Jenkins
  • Azure DevOps
  • BitBucket
  • GitLab

Altogether these techniques help you implement more efficient data management and break down silos – both culturally and practically – by consolidating all your data, and giving you a more holistic view of your product.

Get in touch with an expert at RiverSafe to find out how we can help you improve your data management.

By Riversafe

Cyber Security Intelligence Experts

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