A central data pool is not a solution to interface problems

In three out of four companies, data silos hinder internal collaboration. The stagnant flow of information between departments poses ever greater challenges for industry, even though companies have been working to create interfaces for years. In more than 40 percent of companies, the number of data silos has actually increased, and  only a good ten percent has succeeded in improving access to information company-wide. In most cases, changes fail due to cultural barriers or technical hurdles. This is shown in a recent industry study, for which 126 executives from industrial companies were surveyed.

“Alackof data synchronization across different systems and applications inhibits the power to innovate. Only when all parties involved, including product development, production, purchasing and sales, view and share relevant information can the potential for new business models and improved efficiency be increased,” says Charly Wachtel, Managing Director of the XPLM technology company and manager of the data linking tool XSPHERE. The industry study 2023 commissioned by XPLM – Success Factor Data shows how serious the problem is: 76 percent of respondents admit that data silos hinder cross-departmental exchange. And 74% see this as a competitive disadvantage. “Companies know about these deficiencies, but cannot control the problem,” says data expert Wachtel.

When it comes to resolving data silos, companies face a number of challenges: two out of three respondents say that corporate culture favours the emergence of data silos, and 71 percent see the problem in the departments themselves: They do not want to share their knowledge. On the technical side, it is the lack of interfaces that prevent 71 percent of companies from connecting data silos.

The rapid pace of change in engineering and manufacturing is driving ever increasing complexity in new product development. Today, global manufacturers are challenged with connecting a wide range of tools and systems from multiple vendors, and the number of tools and connectivity complexity continues to increase with the development of smart connected products and support for Industry 4.0.

Stagnant data exchange costs companies a lot of time and energy, XSPHERE professional Wachtel acknowledges: “For each project, a large number of meetings take place to exchange information between the different departments. The results of these time-consuming meetings are often poor, the exchange of information is low.” Given the variety of challenges, many companies want a central data pool. Charly Wachtel said: “The implementation of a centralized solution is very complex, and modern cloud and web technologies are difficult to integrate. It makes more sense to optimize existing systems and dock a flexible integration solution for the smooth exchange of data. Rights management can also take into account the security needs of companies.”

In the opinion of the IT specialist, the practicable solution does not lie in lengthy organizational changes or technical restructuring, but in a lean IT integration solution that seamlessly connects a large number of systems. Once the technical basis has been optimized, there is room for a subsequent cultural transformation.

About the study

126 executives from the industry were surveyed for the “Industry Study 2023, Success Factor Data” conducted at the end of 2022. The survey participants work in companies with a minimum turnover of 40 million euros in the mechanical engineering, automotive, electrical industry, chemical, pharmaceutical, food, medical technology and energy sectors.

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With XSPHERE web services, companies in industry and other sectors can conveniently share technical data. All relevant information can be linked across locations and systems from the familiar working environment. The linked data updates automatically without any synchronization. Data models remain unchanged. Since XSPHERE does not require any implementation, integration or migration, there are only low installation costs without any project risk.

XSPHERE is a product of XPLM, a global solution provider. Founded in 2005, the company's core competence is to connect people, systems and processes. XPLM is headquartered in Dresden, Germany, with offices in the USA and Japan.