Tech Terms: Information Silo

In business management and information technology (IT) a silo describes any management system that is unable to operate with any other system, meaning it’s closed off from other systems. Silos create an environment of individual and disparate systems within an organization.

Why Silos Occur
Organizational silos typically do not share the same priorities, goals or even the same tools, so departments operate as individual business units or entities within the enterprise. Silos occur because of how an organization is structured. Managers are responsible for one specific department within an organization and each manager has different priorities, responsibilities and vision. Often, managers are not aware of the priorities and goals of other departments and there is little communication, collaboration and teamwork between these business units.

The Silo Mentality
The silo mentality is really an organizational way of thinking. It occurs when departments or management groups do not share information, goals, tools, priorities and processes with other departments. The silo mentality is believed to impact operations, reduce employee morale and may contribute to the overall failure of a company or its products and culture.

Today, managers are tasked with breaking the silo mentality to ensure information flows freely between all departments in an organization. The goal is to change and improve the relationships between business units by advocating better teamwork. Communication and collaboration is essential to breaking down the silo mentality.

Breaking Down IT Silos
In In technology centers there is a need to break down IT silos to improve the relationship between Development and IT Operations in particular. On the development side – especially for individuals working in IT operations — there needs to be better communication and collaboration to best serve the IT business needs of the organization.

One solution to breaking down this IT silos is DevOps (development and operations), a culture that partners developers with operations staff to ensure the organization achieves optimal running of software with minimal problems. This culture is one that supports a willingness to work together and share.

The ITIL Solution
The ITIL solution to the IT silo is the Operational Level Agreement (OLA). The OLA defines how IT groups work together to meet IT service level requirements. Successful ITIL adoption depends upon cross-silo process interaction and shared responsibilities.

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