If business data were currency, would cashflow keep you awake at night?

Poor business data is keeping business owners awake at night

If you were to quiz business owners from around the UK and ask them what is likely to keep them awake at night, they’d be unlikely to reply that it’s their business data and how they use it.

They’d be more likely to point to cashflow as their most pressing concern. But businesses don’t just need a steady flow of currency to ensure the smooth running of their operations. In the modern workplace, an interrupted flow of data is just as important.

After all, if the cashflow stops, salaries aren’t paid and workers down tools. But if the information flow stops, it doesn’t matter how much cash you have to hand. Your workers simply won’t have the tools they need to give your customers what they want.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to lose sleep over this! If you can work out just what’s stemming the flow of business data, and how to make sure everything moves downstream to customer-facing staff, you’ll sleep more soundly tonight.

So let’s look at the biggest obstacle to the smooth flow of data.

Silos block the flow of your business data

Larger enterprises use around 300-400 cloud applications, each of which collects and collates important information that’s vital to your organisation.

And each single application is typically an island, independent of all the others. The data is kept to silos, where information that could be vital in one area is instead jealously hoarded by another.

This is a huge problem. Because, simply put, if the raw data isn’t there when it is needed, it is useless.

Compartmentalising this data makes it more difficult to build up a true customer profile, personalise user experiences and gain insights which can give your business a competitive edge. Making smart use of business data needs to be a combined effort across departments, and locking away information stops this from happening.

Even worse, your customers are being forced to navigate these data silos too – leading to repetition, irritation and missed opportunities. If data could be integrated, it would be much simpler to provide a seamless customer experience, drawing upon information you’ve previously collected from across the business.

It’s clear that something needs to be done about silos to improve the flow of business data. But bringing everything under one umbrella is easier said than done…

Siloing is just the tip of the legacy IT iceberg

Data silos didn’t just spring into existence overnight. Nobody woke up one morning and decided to hide data from the people who need it. No, siloing is a hangover from yesterday’s practices. And the main issue with overcoming this problem is the fact that your legacy IT systems don’t make it easy to move with the times.

The failure of legacy systems to integrate with your data-gathering apparatus can have a huge effect on your bottom line. Delta Airlines and Deutsche Bank are just two of the businesses that have seen the “existential threat” that legacy IT poses to their profits. They require additional systems to take or recreate the same information – such as customer files – time and time again, and they cost an arm and a leg to change.

So what is to be done?

Freeing up the flow of your business data

Data silos don’t help you. They don’t help your customers. They only help software vendors who get to sell you another silo to bolt on to the sides of your legacy IT system.

To get that good night’s sleep, you need to let business data flow.

To do this, data needs to be brought under one umbrella. If you can incrementally move from a system where everything is squirrelled away by a hundred different applications, to one robust and agile ecosystem where information is freely shared, you’ll see a vast improvement.

Over time, you’ll be able to combine structured and unstructured data, real-time insights and personalised profiles into one secure system which provides everyone with everything they need.

Workers will have their tools, customers will have a better experience, and you will have what you’ve been searching for all this time.

A restful and satisfied good night’s sleep.

Bolstered by the increased currency that comes with a smoother, friendlier approach to business data of course!

About the Author

Chris Cox is product innovation lead at KCOM. KCOM is a leading provider of communications services and IT solutions to organisations and consumers. By listening to and learning from our customers, we design and deliver the right services to connect them with the things that matter.