Many CIOs may not appreciate the drastic effect IT can have on breaking down departmental silos, where each workgroup is the owner of its own business process.

Those organisations that have evolved departmental silos are in danger of those teams avoiding sharing data and information outside of their own department, rather than applying a systemic and cross-functional approach.

This independent structure makes it easier processes for senior management to manage their own territories, but the problem with this attitude is that it develops a culture where knowledge dissemination is not encouraged by top management and this is then accepted by the workforce.

This independent way of working can impact deeply on business units, breeding insular thinking and decision-making, which can in turn adversely affect the wider organisation; resulting in duplication of information, wasted time and increased operational cost.

 - It's easy for marketing to miss that sales is using a pitch that doesn't touch on key elements of the campaign
 - The sales team may not be informed about new promotions, which could create confusion about where leads are coming from 
 - HR could be unaware of training or recruitment needs if marketing's promotions lead to an influx of new customers

Organisations have been slow in learning to break the silos because they have not addressed the benefits of nurturing a systemic mindset of collaboration, where corporate knowledge can be shared and improved.

Central to breaking down departmental silos is the establishment of common IT platforms across the organisation which give access to centralised data.

This encourages visibility, flow of information and integrates the entire business.

Implementing collaborative technologies can also help a business improve operational efficiency and reinforce customer satisfaction.

CIOs must be committed to this process by becoming the champions of the implementation and methodology behind collaborative technologies. But, without the support of senior management, silos may persist even with new IT platforms in place.

Forward thinking CIOs are going a step further and establishing automated IT processes that go across departments rather than just vertically into them.

Automating IT processes across business leads to business processes driven by individual departments evolving to serve company-wide needs, which will have a positive effect on the bottom line.

An example of this can be seen through collaboration with finance and sales.

When internal sales tickets are raised relating to customer queries regarding renewal notices or serial number requests, these can be passed on to finance automatically to ensure invoicing is adjusted accordingly.

It is imperative that CIOs seek to eliminate silos through progressive IT strategies that tie the organisation together and facilitate effective and transparent communication.

For this to happen there needs to be fundamental changes in mentality from the boardroom down.

An understanding of why inclusive IT platforms which facilities departmental integration provides too much business value to be ignored.

Progressive IT service management strategies can support this process, allowing those organisations which implement them to reap the benefits, providing the type of competitive advantage which is crucial for organisations to ride through the current economic storm.

James Gay is CEO of ICCM Solutions

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