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How can different data silos be combined?

Not only is written and spoken communication growing inexorably in all companies, but so is the amount of unstructured data. Emails, support tickets, blog comments, calls and documents are often already available digitally, but not always. Depending on the department and function (e.g. marketing, sales, product, etc.), this data is stored separately in specific databases.

Accordingly, when experts from the specialist departments work with the data and gather insights into customer wishes or the performance of products, they usually only have access to their own tools and databases. Internal firewalls are also often the reason for data silos in companies. That’s why our customers are asking how to unify different data pots to better understand customer preferences across organizations and channels.

The fundamental problem with unifying data silos is usually the quality and structure of the data. Depending on how complete and true the data is, it can be further processed. However, unstructured data (colloquial texts, emails and more) cannot be easily combined with sales figures. So, the form in which the data is available also plays a big role.

The points in time at which data is collected can also cause difficulties. If data is missing at certain points in time, this can make comparisons difficult. And data protection is not to be neglected either, for example, whether and how personal data may be further processed.

In most cases, the solution to this problem is complex. In order to merge data pots, a structure must be in place, such as products or product categories. Then various data points such as sales, reviews, surveys and social media posts can be matched to the products and categories.

The technological infrastructure must also be in place to store and retrieve data from interfaces and via an import. The formats of the data must be fundamentally compatible. Accordingly, the cloud offers great advantages in combining data silos.

In summary, it can be said that in order to combine data silos in a meaningful way, a concept with a clear objective is necessary and the appropriate infrastructure. The effort is worthwhile because it allows completely new insights into products and customers to be gained that would not have been possible before.

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Dr. Korbinian Spann
15. August 2021