Whether you’re looking to streamline workflows, save your team from repetitive processes, or shave a few seconds off your production time, you've probably bought (or renewed) tech solutions in the hopes of solving your problems. Software adoption in the name of productivity happens at such a clip that, on average, enterprise companies have 367 tools scattered across the org.
What you don’t expect—as you train Marketing on a new campaign management tool, or you introduce Product to new roadmapping software—is how this team-level implementation risks trapping data and deepening silos. Using disconnected tools can pull the organization in competing directions. Each team makes decisions according to the information in front of them, quickening their singular pace but blind to critical insights living in other tools across the org. Teams move quickly, but at the expense of moving together.
The link between SaaS and silos was uncovered during a recent study by Forrester Consulting, commissioned by Airtable. Forrester surveyed 1,000+ knowledge workers (spanning roles from individual contributors to the C-Suite) to reveal the “Crisis of Fractured Organizations,” and the impact of silos within large organizations. Some key findings from the study include:
- Teams are drowning in tools: As we’ve noted, large organizations use an average of 367 software apps and systems. This widespread software adoption at the team-level leads to silos and blindspots across the organization.
- Business processes are more fractured than you think: When processes are manual and information is hidden within spreadsheets and email, these blockers hamstring organizations’ ability to get work done. Data silos sap 2.4 hours from employees’ workdays, as they’re forced to look for the information they need to do their work.
- Fractured organizations can’t compete: Disconnected and inefficient processes result in a 24% drop in productivity across the organization. Revenue, employee engagement, and the ability to innovate all suffer.
The need for change is now
The Forrester study found that 80% of respondents view reducing data and information silos as a critical or high priority. The reasons for this urgency include:
- Nearly half of respondents say silos increase the risk of making mistakes.
- 46% say poor business processes increase the risk of manual errors.
- Nearly a third of respondents (31%) indicated they saw revenue decrease as a direct result of organization silos, inaccurate data, and broken work processes.
What do these mistakes look like in practice? When the org is fractured along software lines, collaboration is filled with friction and customer experience suffers. Without visibility into the product roadmap, for example, Marketing might release campaigns that compete with (rather than support) major product launches. And, when your go-to-market strategy conflicts with the in-product experience, potential customers are left confused and trust is quickly eroded. If you’ve got 367 tools, that’s 367 potential blindspots.
Silos stifle employee satisfaction
When your organization is fractured by hundreds of tools that don’t speak to each other, employees waste time searching for information living in different places—software, spreadsheets, emails, and comment threads. You’re unsure how your work connects to other initiatives, and time is lost to repetitive and unnecessary status checks and updates.
You might find yourself answering questions like: "Do you know where this data lives?" "Which version is most accurate?" "Why are we measuring this in multiple ways?" "Do you have the latest update on this?"
Forrester’s study explored the drain of these organizational and data silos on employee experience. The research discovered:
- Employees spend 2.4 hours daily looking for data and information to do their work.
- When cross-collaboration is rated as difficult, productivity, employee morale, and revenue drop.
- The top reason that employees report disengaging is that it’s too hard to find the information they need to do their jobs.
How connected apps solve silos
The need for connection—between teams, tools, and data—is the resounding message throughout the Forrester study. And one way to achieve this connection, Forrester found, is to empower employees to build connected apps.
Connected apps are a network of apps that share a common data source and live on the same platform. On average, respondents reported they'd save 29% (11.6 hrs) of their week by implementing connected apps. And that connected apps help improve productivity, reduce friction, and boost employee engagement.
With this potential in mind, we recently announced Airtable Connected Apps Platform as a solution for teams to work the way they want, without sacrificing connection with other teams across the org. Most importantly, the single platform syncs data automatically between apps, which allows teams to make stronger decisions and sustain bottom-line results. Speed no longer occurs solely at the team level—it’s elevated to the entire organization moving quickly, in unison.
Read more about the crisis of fractured organizations by downloading the Forrester study here.