Companies in order to survive have to deal with silos

At the dawn of the 4th industrial revolution we are already experiencing the digital era. Technologies ready for use such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and Machine Learning, provide solutions that radically change our everyday lives (i.e. smart cities and early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease). At the same time these technologies present a major challenge for companies. How many businesses will survive in this fast-changing environment and in what way?

Basic requirement for companies to survive is the need to demolish the invisible internal walls that divide them and create a unified front in order to better serve their customers.

What are these invisible walls? They are called silos and following the Business Dictionary (https://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/silo-mentality.html) they are "a mind-set present in some companies when certain departments or sectors do not wish to share information with others in the same company. This type of mentality will reduce the efficiency of the overall operation, reduce morale, and may contribute to the demise of a productive company culture."

Antonis Tsiboukis - Cisco General Manager for Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Portugal - suggests that organizations of the public sector and companies aim in mentality change in order to survive (https://www.epixeiro.gr/article/149464). A major element of this mentality that has to change is that of silos.

The silo problem is not new. It has been discussed among the higher levels of management in companies during the last 30 years. Today, during the digital transformation, it has become more urgent than ever. The employees of different departments need to communicate and collaborate more effectively. Only companies that will be able to quickly break the invisible walls that inhibit collaboration, innovation and agility will be able to move forward in the digital era. And they have to do so urgently, because flexible start-ups out there are planning ways to disrupt the market. People working in these startup companies collaborate as task forces implementing the right innovative idea and based on strategic execution gain important market share.

Silos are a catastrophic organizational disease blocking the development of the company and its adaptation to the market. Today, during the digital transformation it is more urgent than ever for employees to communicate and collaborate efficiently. Changing mentality is essential for substantially using technology and moving to the digital era. This new era is characterized by communication, collaboration, flexibility and speed.

When silos exist within the company, the result is that a market share is available to competition. When this is the case, agile start-up companies grasp this share.


What do companies need to do?

Have a unified vision

What every company needs today is to have a single unified vision. The leading team of the company has to focus on this vision which must be communicated to and embraced by all employees at all levels.

Have a common goal

When every department, team and individual share a common goal and are aware of their contribution in it, communication and collaboration become smooth. Synergies are created and everybody works towards achieving the shared goal.

Leaders motivate teams and encourage communication and collaboration.

Silos are created and transmitted top-down within a company. Once the leadership team members collaborate and communicate openly, positively and effectively among themselves and with other individuals, trust is established, and this is diffused throughout the company.

There are plenty of software tools that can be used for supporting a company improve communication and collaboration.

Be One Team facing the customers.

Finally, the customer experience has to create value for them. Customers must get the message that they are dealing with one team - not fragmented divisions of the company - with which they collaborate with speed and agility.

The silo mentality is not a problem concerning only big organizations. It appears to all size of business.

Vassia Atsali

This article is a translation of the original published in Greek in https://www.epixeiro.gr/article/160898