Your Most Important Information Silos

I had the pleasure of attending Igloo Software’s annual ICE conference in San Antonio last week. The conference was very well run and held in a beautiful venue in the Texas hill country, and was something of a cross between a tech conference, a seminar on HR issues, and a symposium on the future of work. Very definitely time well spent and next year’s conference in Las Vegas will be free — Igloo’s president has even invited the company’s competitors to join the conference!

Igloo is in the business of providing a “digital workplace” — a digital destination that allows employees to get information, share information and integrate a growing variety of corporate tools like email and file sharing into a centralized, cohesive experience. One of the fundamental goals of the Igloo platform is to significantly reduce the friction that exists in the traditional employee communication and collaboration experience that relies on email, file-sharing platforms and other less-than-ideal collaboration tools. Using  the Igloo platform, employees can blog, share documents, find people within the company, manage tasks, share calendars, search for information and perform a wide range of other activities.

The ultimate goal is to improve employee engagement, which most all senior managers would acknowledge is valuable, but which too few prioritize with the resources necessary to make it happen. For example, a Towers Perrin study found that only 21 percent of employees are “engaged” on the job, eight percent are fully disengaged, and the rest are, at best, only partially engaged. Yet the more employees are engaged, the less likely they are to leave their employer, the lower their rate of absenteeism, the less likely they are to make mistakes on the job, and the more likely they are to please their customers — all of which results in lower costs and higher revenues.

One of the key benefits of Igloo’s digital workplace and solutions like it is the ability to reduce the negative impact of information silos. We hear lots about information silos in the context of physical repositories like email, CRM, ERP, HR systems and the like, and how these silos are proliferating as more cloud-based solutions are employed. Siloed information results in higher costs and more mistakes for activities like eDiscovery, litigation support, regulatory compliance or even just informal searches for data. Imagine, for example, conducing a Subject Access Request under the GDPR and you had 250 different silos of information to search through to find the requested information.

But what about your most critical information silos — the ones who go down the elevator shaft every night? Your employees are incredibly valuable sources of information that can provide enormous value above and beyond just what they do for your company — what they know that is not directly related to their job is also valuable. For example, what if Bob the salesman is trying to sell your company’s solutions to XYZ company. Would it be useful for Bob to know the decision influencers in XYZ that don’t show up on the organization chart and that might not have been at his introductory meeting? Maybe Alice the purchasing manager, who used to work at XYZ, might be able to provide some insight on who these influencers are. But if Bob and Alice don’t work together or even know each other, how is that going to happen? A digital destination that includes information on employees’ past experience can be the type of tool to bring employees together by breaking down the personal silos of information that we all possess.

Plus, a key value of a digital destination shared by most or all of the employees in a company is that it can bring people together in unexpected ways. For example, maybe Bob and Alice share photos of their pets or details of their river cruise down the Danube on the corporate digital workplace. That might be the catalyst that could start a conversation between the two that might end up providing useful information for Bob as he tries to sell into XYZ. At a minimum, a digital workplace enables a freer flow of information than would otherwise be possible and, hopefully, will make employees more engaged.