When marketing executive Michelle Killebrew started her career 19 years ago, she noticed something really peculiar

The planet’s biggest brands, many of whom should have known better, kept their data in silos

This information existed in a tangled clump of disparate databases and applications. Teams kept it isolated from other teams even though they all worked for the same team. 

It was like different departments — Sales, Marketing, Customer Care — were keeping deep dark secrets from each other. Or one team didn’t want the other team to know what it was doing because it was quietly plotting world domination. (Our money’s on Customer Care.) 

It was a mess. It still is. And not much has changed. 

Michelle, one of Thinkers360’s 150 Women B2B Thought Leaders You Should Follow in 2021, has launched a one-woman marketing crusade against the greatest data disaster of our generation: 

The damn silo.

And she means businesses. 

She will repeat the same message until every marketer in the land listens: 

Enterprises need a single source of truth. 

In this Leadtail TV episode, keynote speaker and best-selling author Bryan Kramer talks with Michelle, Products and Technology Leader at PwC, about the disastrous dangers of data silos and how marketers can get rid of them for good.

A Collaborative Approach

Data-driven enterprises and marketing organizations have never been more fragmented. 

“There are so many functional disciplines,” Michelle says. “But to go to market well, you have to ensure marketing and sales are interlocked, and sales and operations are interlocked, and product teams get feedback from customer success teams.” 

The solution is as clear as crystal. Enterprises need to collaborate: 

“Organizations should bring people to the table who adopt a real collaborative approach that defines team roles and how these teams come together. They need to orchestrate a plan that is truly operational, something that is truly executable, that they can launch together instead of competing with siloed objectives.” 

Michelle describes herself as “naturally curious” on her LinkedIn. And, like a detective in an Agatha Christie novel, she hopes to solve some of the biggest unsolved mysteries in data integration. 

She’s already solved the data silo conundrum:

“One of the things I’ve done in many organizations is design tech stacks from the ground up,” she says. “Enterprises shouldn’t trap themselves in a corner with data integration. They need to think long term and holistically about how they integrate tools and define data architecture.”

Now she wants to share this discovery with the world. With former stints at IBM and CA Technologies, and shout-outs from Entrepreneur (8 Digital Experts Entrepreneurs Can Learn From) and TopRank (50 Influential Women in B2B Marketing Who Rocked in 2020), Michelle talks about data silos, among other topics, as a speaker at events like TEDx.

And people are listening. 

A Strong Foundation

Data silos exist because organizations are oblivious to them. Instead of solving such a simple problem, marketers get distracted by fancy new technologies, like kids in a candy store. 

Michelle says organizations look for “shiny objects” to fix data integration problem when they should get down to brass tracks:

“If you have a strong foundation, and just keep it simple, you’re going to be that much more effective.”

So it’s all about that foundation:

“Ask yourself, ‘What do you need? ‘What’s impacting your business?’ ‘Does your tech give you insights so you can be more performance-oriented?’ If the answers are no, focus your efforts on strengthening that foundation.”

The Future of Data Integration

That foundation is a little shaky for some enterprises right now, pandemic and all. But Michelle thinks agile companies and marketing organizations have got this. 

“Make plans and then see how they come together,” she says. “Don’t over-invest. Don’t overstretch yourself. Doing so could lead to frustration, exhaustion, or double work.”

Ultimately, everybody’s just trying to figure it out right now:

“So cut yourself some slack.”

And for those enterprises with data still trapped in silos? 

“Tight feedback loops and decision making.” 

Now It’s Your Turn

What do you think? Can marketers solve their data silo woes? And what does the future of data integration hold? Let us know what you think.  

Watch the entire episode here or listen to the podcast version here.