With increasing frequency, companies and organizations are embracing the move to digital enterprises. Some view the move as a basic step toward IT modernization, others feel the transformation is necessary to keep up with the competition and still others see an opportunity to reduce costs and operate more efficiently. Whatever the motivation might be, and whatever specific initiatives are planned, one adjustment that all enterprises need to make is to eliminate siloed thinking.
What is Siloed Thinking?
Essentially, siloed thinking is viewing things in a limited, dualistic manner. Everything is either/or — either it is good or bad, yours or mine, black or white. Extending this concept to IT yields attitudes such as on-premises or in the cloud, software or hardware, your data or my data, business needs or IT needs.
Why Siloed Thinking is Dangerous
Siloed thinking can cause conflicts, but it can also lead to departments actually working at cross-purposes. Department heads may be more concerned with protecting their “domains” than with interdepartmental collaboration to further the overall goals of the business. Communications can break down, leading to one team working on a project under the assumption that it is what a specific department needs when the reality is that a completely different option has been chosen. Perhaps more importantly, valuable opportunities could be missed by insisting on choosing between two options — such as on-premises installation or cloud services — when the best solution is a combination of the two.
In the modern world, successful enterprises need to embrace a wide variety of technologies and approaches. Everything needs to work toward meeting the needs and goals of the business as a whole. Enterprises must take a holistic view of operations rather than segregate duties and responsibilities. For example, many IT departments have hardware teams and software teams — as if software could serve a purpose without hardware and vice versa. Today, there is often a blurring of the lines between the responsibilities of each team, as many initiatives require the skills of both to be successful.
Changing the Mindset
Business moves at a very fast pace, and managers must be prepared at all times to make critical decisions. However, this does not mean that managers should not consider all options before deciding on a course of action. If they are clinging to the concept of siloed thinking, multiple options may not occur to them. They may only consider a cloud-based SaaS when seeking a fast, low-cost change, overlooking an IT solution involving an on-premises PaaS that could be just as quick to implement and less costly in the long run. They might think they can overcome obstacles requiring finesse with power. They could become so focused on a specific goal, such as increasing revenue, that they ignore other critical goals, such as building a loyal base of repeat customers.
Eliminating siloed thinking requires a concerted effort from and the collaboration of C-suite managers to succeed. They must be willing to share control over certain areas whenever such joint control will provide better overall results. They must be willing to adapt to new ideas that may be contrary to long-held beliefs about the proper way to manage an enterprise. Just as importantly, they must help all employees eliminate siloed thinking, whether through setting an example or providing training sessions.
Humans have a long history of siloed thinking. They tend to think that there can be only one correct answer and that all other choices must therefore be incorrect. They typically believe that an action is either right or wrong without considering the possibility that a wrong answer could be right under specific conditions.
However, in a world where business often moves at the speed of the Internet, the businesses that thrive will be the ones that can adapt quickly to change and that are willing to think along non-traditional lines. For many, the first step on the road to becoming a true digital enterprise is to eliminate siloed thinking.