Data Silos: It’s Time To Break Them Down
Manufacturers are getting more comfortable with their data. As the future of manufacturing takes shape in the cloud, producers across every sector are looking to leverage their data into efficiency, productivity, and competitive advantages that keep them relevant in Industry 4.0. Unfortunately, many are finding data accessibility problems to solve before they can put their data to work.
Data silos exist in many organizations. Originally designed to keep data clean and relevant, silos now impede progress more than anything else. Manufacturers need data visibility across the organization, and silos sometimes prevent them from understanding its potential.
What is a data silo?
Data silos refer to isolated data streams within an organization — usually confined to whatever business unit generates them. For example, finance teams might not have access to machine maintenance data because they’re not responsible for equipment upkeep, but they will have access to data showing how much the company spends on maintenance.
Data silos prevent organizations from drawing broader conclusions. The finance and maintenance departments aren’t on the same page because neither can access the other’s data. There’s no synergy, so there’s no opportunity for collaboration on solutions for improving the entire business.
The opportunities that follow de-siloing data
De-siloing data is the act of tearing down the barriers existing between different data streams. Typically, it involves flooding disparate data sources into a data lake, where it is accessible to anyone who needs it. With the ability to see and access data, different business units can collaborate more effectively.
For example, if the finance department can see the breakdown between parts vs. labor in the maintenance budget, it can more effectively project budgeting for that cost center. Likewise, if the maintenance department understands cost data within the context of company capital expenditures, it can make better decisions about asset management.
This example is one of an infinite number of opportunities that arise with increased data visibility. Manufacturers can’t afford to operate in silos. Industry 4.0 happens in the cloud, and it requires participation from every business unit. To benefit, companies need to democratize data across the organization.
Data as the source of truth for manufacturers
As more of manufacturing becomes data-driven, data visibility becomes paramount. Especially in applications involving decision-makers from multiple business units, it’s critical for everyone to have access to the same clean, accurate, and reliable data.
Think of data as a source of truth. Whether it’s for maintenance, purchasing, operations, supply chain, or labor, sound decisions are informed by solid data. If that data is tied up in a silo, or otherwise inaccessible to someone who needs it, the outcome is immediately in jeopardy. De-siloing data creates a single source of truth and a shared foundation for informed decision-making.
Ultimately, de-siloing data allows manufacturers to use data to achieve more productive, efficient, and sustainable solutions — from operations and maintenance to hiring and budgeting.