June 16, 2015

Return of the siloes

Ville Tawaststjerna

Solution Manager Collaboration and Productivity Solutions, Tieto

I wrote before about the role of different tools and how natives of the digital collaboration era don't see intranets as "editorial monoliths". Perspective for that posting was very much from the vendor's side of the table, and there is always the more important view - customer's view.

As especially cloud based solution stacks offer a myriad of features and alternative ways for fulfilling different requirements, it is only natural that organizations face challenges in defining the most suitable path to follow. Collaboration, content management, CRM, document sharing, workflows, social features, instant messaging, mobile access etc. They are all relevant and all achievable in more than one way.

Recent experiences from our customer base indicate, that one way of coping with these hard choices solution-wise, is to return to functional siloes with dedicated solutions. This is actually not as awkward as it at first may seem, because siloes have at least the following benefits:

  • My solution, my requirements - Solution can be fitted to meet the specific requirements of the owning function.
  • My budget - Easier cost estimation and allocation. Fits nicely to the existing budgeting process.
  • My schedule - Required internal resources are available, they are "our" resources
  • My KPI's - Achieving - and setting - targets is easier as measures follow organizational boundaries.

These basic points are sometimes hard to match to the possibilities that cloud-based ever-evolving solution stacks offer. For example, if instant messaging is part of newly acquired CRM-solution's feature-set, accepting and allocating costs of the other instant messaging solution's upgrade-project becomes harder.

So maybe the acceptance of siloes returning is the easiest way? Maybe trusting the current budget owners to know how to get the best ROI requires some effort. Maybe revolution of the cloud should be considered rather as evolution of operating models?

Easy answer to all questions above is of course "yes". But without some shaking of the current structures its too easy to just remain in the comfort zone. Old proverb states that "if you don't disrupt your business yourself today, your competitors will disrupt it tomorrow".

Empowering personnel with modern tools enabling efficiency and innovation is a good starting point. Email quotas and restrictive mobile data plans should be historical curiosities today. ICT must provide proactive value to business operations and help them to understand harder-to-budget cloud solutions. Then the return of the siloes is not a threat but a possibility to renew the solution map for the future.

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