Many large corporations have traditionally had siloed structures, whereby employees or functions are separated by location, department, or area of specialism. These teams have common objectives and shared expertise, which can be a big positive: typically, employees communicate and collaborate closely within their silo.
However, the downside is that they may have little or no contact with the other groups. This can mean that opportunities for better and more efficient working practices are missed. Teams may neglect to share information with one another, and in some cases even deliberately avoid doing so. This culture can lead to inefficiencies, with work and costs being duplicated unnecessarily.
Within siloes, the tight-knit teams may work well together, but the structure can leave CTOs and CIOs with a real problem when it comes to IT oversight. Separate teams may be covering areas such as data, applications, and servers, and processes can become obscured between people who work on the same systems.
Siloed team structures can also have implications when it comes to ensuring that policies are up to date across the full IT suite – an essential component of compliance. This of course also brings the increased potential for negative customer experiences. For example, one team may have a supplier dashboard that is a key tool to their operations – but if only the people that put it together fully understand it and know how to utilise it, this creates a vulnerability.
A change of approach: breaking down siloes in your business
The DevOps philosophy grew out of the difficulties of managing the separation between IT operations and software development. It used to be that developers wrote the code, then handed it over for deployment, often working entirely separately to the operations team. But this approach is no longer practical, in a world of continuous delivery with releases occurring much more frequently.
It has become essential for teams to work together to improve efficiency, consistency, and reliability. The DevOps movement has led to numerous functions being combined, fuelling digital transformation. Many companies now take this approach to software development, including Facebook and Amazon.
A joined-up approach is especially important in customer-facing services, in order to make sure that they receive an excellent experience. Without careful and consistent management, there is high potential for reputational damage.