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Five Tactics for Busting Silos in Your Company

by Roy Young  |  
April 29, 2008

They're everywhere—those invisible but oh-so-destructive barriers that can loom between functions in a company.

Often called silos, these barriers can elicit numerous nasty behaviors—including function leaders' unwillingness to communicate, share information, or collaborate with each other, and their tendency to scuffle over scarce resources.

The Dark Side of Silos

Silos between a company's marketing function and other functions can be particularly damaging. For example, in many companies, management asks R&D to operate in a vacuum. R&D's goal is to come up with new offerings without considering their cost or market demand.

Management often rationalizes this approach by saying that it does not want to constrain creativity. But without input from the marketing staff, R&D risks creating products that fall flat in the marketplace because consumers don't care about the features and benefits they offer.

Marketing as a Silo Buster

As a marketing professional, you of course work in a specialized function that may feel like a silo in your firm. But you're also best positioned to break down the walls between your function and others (R&D, sales, finance, and so forth).

Why? Your job as a marketer is all about understanding and fulfilling customers' needs. More than any other managers in your company, you bring the customer's perspective inside your firm. Without that perspective, the entire enterprise would have no focus and no understanding of the customer—and would be doomed.

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Roy Young is coauthor of Marketing Champions: Practical Strategies for Improving Marketing's Power, Influence and Business Impact. For more information about the book, go to or order at Amazon.

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  • by Paul Barsch Wed Apr 30, 2008 via web

    Roy, these are terrific points in breaking down organizational silos and getting focus on customers.

    Unfortunately, however, many marketing organizations are struggling with the fundamentals when it comes to a marketing/technology infrastructure and don't even have a customer database!

    Forrester has written some terrific briefs on the need for and how to evangelize use of a customer database across the organization. I recommend any of the briefs from Dave Frankland as a good primer.

    Of course, a customer database is actually much less desirable than an enterprise-wide data repository that contains product, customer, financial, supplier and other data. The enterprise view with data from all silos gives a true and complete view of the customer and of the business. This is where the real ROI lives!

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