'Silos, for lack of a better word, are good'

Everyone complains about IT silos, but who complains about 'evil' sales silos?

"Silos, for lack of a better word, are good."

That's not the Gordon Gekko of IT speaking, it's Hank Marquis, railing against the conventional wisdom that has been shaping service-oriented thinking for the past decade.

He makes an interesting point:

"Silos are the only way to manage increasingly complex concepts. Medicine, education, government and business all rely upon silos... It makes sense to develop staff, management and other systems based on the unique requirements of each....They usually have different systems, staff and needs. They are silos too. Yes, silos are everywhere, but you seldom hear experts complaining about 'evil' sales silos or intransigent transportation silos. Why the attack on IT organizations?"

We actually need IT silos, Hank believes. Many pundits and analysts and IT professionals have been denouncing IT silos for the wrong reason, he says. "The issue isn't the presence or absence of silos. The issue is the lack of communication and coordination between them.... the real issue is lack of management."

Hank hits upon something intriguing here. Silos have kept systems and processes within a manageable scale. And we've been trying to make services and data visible and usable to other parts of the enterprise. The challenge isn't to tear down the silos, but rather to make them open and accessible to one another, through common standards and governance within your organization. And that takes a lot more time and good management, versus simply bulldozing them down.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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