Which came first the chicken or the egg? The classic riddle can be answered by science; however, for the purposes of this post we'll keep it as a befuddling question that made us feel incredibly smart when we first heard it in the second grade. Today, the modern equivalent is technology vs. communication: which came first in the battle to remove communication silos?
Silos have plagued businesses for generations. They are a management term that has led to countless boardroom discussions, insults thrown, and inevitably distrust between departments that strive to outperform their counterparts. Of course, in the modern business era where global competitors are prevalent in every industry, companies are slowly realizing that their silos need to be dismantled. The challenge is that the very technologies used to create the silos are also the solution to the problem.
A Quick History Lesson
The telegraph encouraged global communications. The telephone made it easier to communicate with offices across the country and overseas. The fax machine made real-time document sharing possible. The computer and the rise of the Internet changed the name of the game.
Since its inception, the digital age has revolutionized technology and business communications. Remote teams are no longer outsiders, instead they are active members of the organization. Of course, as technology has streamlined communications, it has simultaneously supported the subtle breeding of silos. Take, for example, our profound ability to hide behind our computer, tablet, or smartphone screens as we write rapid fire emotional-based responses to emails, texts, memos, and any form of business communication? Hiding behind the screen is one of the ways that technology has encouraged silos, it is also one of the mindsets that needs to change if companies want to encourage more human communications.
Shifting Mindsets To Encourage More Human Communications
The silo mindset is not accidental. It is the result of organizations relying on competitive natures to increase productivity levels. However, in the modern era where customers want to work with businesses that are devoted to "more human experiences," the interdepartmental turf wars are no longer acceptable. In short, silos create conflicted teams, unrest, and inevitably inefficiencies.
The classic example of an outdated silo is marketing vs. sales. The two departments can no longer work as independent components if they want to succeed in the competitive business landscape. To quote, Silos, Politics and Turf Wars, "Silos - and the turf wars they enable - devastate organizations. They waste resources, kill productivity, and jeopardize the achievement of goals." Removing these silos is made easier when you change company mindsets by leveraging the technologies needed to form more human connections.
Technology: The Digital Solution To Breaking Down Silos
Changing the mindset from "my department" to "my organization" takes time and the right technologies. Take, for example, Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI can be used to create a frictionless communication environment that removes the language barriers that plague so many large organizations. According to Microsoft UK Chief Operating Officer, Clare Barclay, “The world of business is changing: you’ve got [a] proliferation of social media tools, constant technological innovation, [and] availability of information. And more communication in the old way of communicating is not going to help with that.” Instead, companies can leverage AI and machine learning tools to make automatic translations a reality. Through the latter tools, organizations can remove the silos that exist between offices in different countries so that a unified brand can be created and with it the touch of humanity that consumers want to see.
AI and machine learning are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to technologies that can help improve internal communications. Video conferencing tools between departments can help to create consistent workflows. SMS messaging that assigns tasks and monitors progress are another tool that can increase efficiencies without reducing the humanity element. Even the right CMS can be used to coordinate efforts and optimize communications across departments. In short, if you want to collaborate, create, and communicate, then you need to use technologies to break down silos.
Collaborate, Create, And Communicate.
The final step in the technology vs. communication conundrum can best be summed up by Francis Bacon, "knowledge is power." Silos stifle knowledge. They prevent departments from actively sharing, which inevitably destroys productivity and creates a competitive disadvantage. You spend countless hours creating authentic human connections for your customers, and yet, your organization is still operating in the silo dark ages. Why?
If you want reach new levels of success in the increasingly competitive global market, then you need to enhance internal communications. The good news is that a branding agency that understands how to solve core business challenges can help you choose the technologies needed to remove silos and break down communication barriers.