In today’s data-driven world, having immediate access to your agency data is essential. This key information is necessary to interact with your clients, as well as provide you with clear information about your agency that can help you develop goals for the business moving forward. But what happens when your agency is filled with data silos? What are data silos and why are they bad? If data silos have taken over your business, chances are your team members are not getting the data they really need to help your business succeed.
What are data silos?
A data silo is defined as data that is only accessible to one group or team within your agency. For example, when each agent uses their own data management system or when agents use one method and your marketing team uses another, your data is kept in separate silos, only allowing access to the original data creator. If you want to collaborate with other team members, it is often impossible to easily share data between members.
Why are data silos a problem?
While this method worked for generations, in today’s technological environment, people expect data and information at their fingertips. Not having the ability to share data can be problematic in a variety of ways, including:
- Increase inefficiencies: When you have multiple teams storing much of the same information in different systems contributes to gross inefficiencies that can waste time, money, and resources.
- Multiple systems increase expenses: When each of the different teams in your agency is using different software or data management software, the expenses of the different platforms quickly add up.
- Creates poor data: When multiple teams have different versions of essentially the same data, you are unable to get a clear picture. Specific data is not really agency-focused, but rather department-focused, and does not provide you with the quality data you need.
- Makes collaboration difficult: When teams within your agency are unable to easily share data, this prevents collaboration and makes it difficult to reach agency goals.
- Threaten data security: When data is stored in multiple locations it can lead to inconsistencies between apartments. In addition, it can also lead to one department having inaccurate information. For example, consider a medical facility that stores patient data in three different locations. If one location is updated regularly the others may not have critical information that is necessary to provide the right care at the right time.
- Poor customer service: Keeping customers happy and nurturing a relationship with them is essential in the insurance industry. In most agencies, a customer will encounter multiple customer touchpoints in different departments. When one department pulls up its data, you want to make sure everything is complete and up to date. However, if one department has added new information, the next department the customer encounters may not have this information. This often results in a customer being bounced from department to department looking for the right information.
Why do data silos exist?
If you have data silos, you are not alone. In fact, it is natural for data silos to develop over time when different departments in your agency begin working and creating data for their own purposes. These data silos develop when certain organizational and technological foundations are not put in place from the start. In most cases, silos develop as a result of one or more of the following conditions.
1. Organization structure
Before technology became a big part of business, it was normal for different departments to collect and manage their own data. Individual departments had their own goals, their own procedures, and their own way of organizing data. Think spreadsheets! Unfortunately, with technology came the cloud and the ability to actively share data in real-time with other teams with an agency, helping to get a clearer and more accurate picture of the agency.
2. Different technological requirements
In many cases, the technology used by a department can differ from the software used by another department, making data sharing near impossible. Instead, agencies need to implement a technology solution that can be used by all teams, with everyone having access to real-time, accurate data.
3. Rapid business growth
When a business grows too quickly or gets too large, it can be difficult to create an easy way to share data. Implementing the right data management system from the start can help reduce the risk of data silo development.
4. The company’s culture
In many companies, different departments have always worked alone. They have their own lingo and tend to work with their goals as the focus. In many cases, different departments even work in different physical locations, so there was never a focus on shared data. The idea of departments collaborating and sharing data is relatively new.
How to identify data silos
So how do you know if data silos exist in your agency? These signs can quickly help you identify if you have a potential silo that may be affecting your business.
- Inability to access data quickly
- Teams are using different data metrics
- Customer complaints about the lack of communication between departments
- Data reports not providing a clear agency picture
- Regular reports of inconsistent data
Eliminating and preventing data silos
If you have identified data silos in your agency, you must work to eliminate them and prevent them from happening again. These steps can help eliminate troublesome silos and ensure every team has access to the same, up-to-date data.
1. Create processes that prevent data silos
Different departments place more weight on certain data points so they may not enter related data that can be beneficial for another department. Creating a standard data entry procedure for all members of your different teams can help ensure that ALL valuable data is entered no matter what department adds the data.
2. Consolidate your software
Implement an agency-wide association management system (AMS) or customer relationship management (CRM) system that stores all your agency’s data in one centralized location that all team members can access in real-time.
3. Sort through outdated data
When breaking down data silos, it is essential to ensure that all the data entered into your new system includes the most accurate and current data points. This will likely mean sorting through data from different departments and weeding out old or unnecessary information.
4. Create a collaborative company culture
Instead of focusing on different departments within your agency, focus on developing a culture that brings together all departments working toward an agency-wide goal. This encourages collaboration and helps to ensure that everyone is working together and that your customers are receiving the best service possible.
Don’t let data silos prevent you from reaching your agency goals
In today’s technological world, immediate access to data is essential and this is true for your agency team members. In order to provide the best customer experience and meet your agency goals, your teams need to be able to access, share, and evaluate data at the touch of a button. Breaking down any data silos and implementing measures to keep them from redeveloping is essential.
At Better Agency, we understand the need for accurate and accessible data in the insurance industry. As former insurance agents, we developed our tools specifically to meet insurance industry needs.
To learn more about how we can help demolish your data silos and get you on the right track, schedule a Discovery Call today.