What businesses can do to disrupt IT silos

Now that so much of our workplace communication and collaboration has gone digital, businesses are taking steps to ensure that their teams are operating as efficiently as possible and that they’re able to serve customers’ needs. While many of the tech tools that companies have adopted or scaled up in the past couple of years have become essential lifelines to power productivity, there are potential risks that can arise if tools aren’t managed properly or if the business doesn’t have the right resources in place.

One specific challenge that poses a threat to productivity, customer experience and an organization’s bottom line is IT silos -- roadblocks that crop up when different teams use separate tools or apps that don’t integrate with others. IT silos can crop up when different groups adopt systems, apps or tools that are duplicative or unable to integrate with other digital resources. The silos are problematic for teams that need to share information and can negatively impact the team’s efficiency and effectiveness. Employees can become frustrated and burned out by the additional challenge of trying to communicate and work together with others. In addition, IT silos prevent teams from accessing the most accurate data. IT silos can take several forms, but there are action steps companies can take to address them.

The Challenge of IT Silos

For any company, IT silos can be incredibly disruptive. A retail chain, for example, needs a single system that can compile and organize customer information. The company can track information related to what customers are returning and why, or if there are issues such as damaged or defective goods reported with inventory on their shelves. However, if each retail branch uses its own tool for managing customer information, the company could struggle to gain a clear picture of all its locations.

Similarly, suppose the retail business doesn’t deploy a single solution to enable all customer communications. In that case, the company won’t be able to monitor or identify broader trends with customer complaints or common points of confusion. Being able to serve customers in a cohesive manner is not only essential for delivering a premier customer experience, but it can also give companies key insights to help them improve their business in the future. Even though silos can be tough to disrupt, organizations that are concerned about them can turn to cloud-based resources as an antidote.

Using Cloud-Based Tools to Break Down Silos

A couple of cloud-based technologies may be particularly useful to eliminating and reducing IT silos within an organization. Company leaders can consider the power of VoIP (voice over internet protocol) and telecom APIs -- tools that can generate a unified approach to communication. VoIP is a technology that enables voice calls over the internet. Telecom APIs are a set of protocols that are used to make connections between different systems. Using these technologies, leadership can unlock a deeper understanding of a company’s customers by using data to develop a more informed approach to customer engagement.

Both VoIP and telecom APIs are cloud-based resources that contribute to an omnichannel communications approach. For background, omnichannel communications create a singular experience for consumers across all communications channels (such as phone, SMS, online, chat, email, etc.) and touchpoints. Customers may begin their engagement with a business in one method and complete their action via another technique later. For example, a customer could contact the company via chat and then call the company to confirm product availability.

If a company uses VoIP, they’ll be able to set up communications resources like chat, email, video meetings and phone calls within one platform. VoIP ensures that an organization can offer different communication methods to customers and use VoIP-powered tools to form a unified, seamless experience. Customers can choose the communication tool that is most convenient for them to contact a company, and the company can ensure they’re connecting with customers most cohesively. Further, an omnichannel communications approach allows businesses to narrow down the tools they’re using -- so that silos are less likely to crop up.

Not only can telecom APIs connect communication channels, but they can also provide insightful data that can drive improvements. When businesses need to gain a better sense of customer service data, they can use telecom APIs to help their support teams view Call Detail Records (CDR). CDRs use call tracking to give representatives a glimpse into recent interactions. In addition, CDRs provide customer service agents with details that help them offer better customer support, including records that indicate who last spoke to the customer. Data is easily accessible for any caller -- ensuring all representatives (not just some) can access the information.

IT silos can pose a significant obstacle for modern businesses, but hosted telecom tools are an incredible resource that allows companies to overcome and prevent them. If silos aren’t tamed, organizations risk better understanding and communicating with their customers, which can negatively impact customer experience. However, cloud-based resources can ease the pain of silos and perhaps even eliminate them.

Image Credit: Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock

Darach Beirne is vice president of customer success at Flowroute, now part of Intrado. With more than 25 years of experience building and leading B2B customer success, Darach leads Flowroute's dedicated customer support team, driving strategy for customer success and improved customer satisfaction. Prior to joining Flowroute, Darach led professional service and sales engineering teams for providers such as Contenix, Huawei/3Leafsytems, InQuira, Siebel/Scopus, and Ingres. He also has assisted high-tech companies in developing strategies to improve the customer experience and increase scalability.

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