Denial Isn’t a Strategy: Breaking Down Silos in Web Communications

How often have you heard, "We're not in charge of that" or "We don't own that content" from people within your organization? In today's ever-changing global marketplace, digital strategy teams across the globe struggle to manage projects using the right resources and talent. Too often, they are stuck in silos and cannot effect any change, while others without important first-line knowledge about what customers really want are making important strategic decisions.

This siloed attitude toward content and digital strategy is costing global organizations millions of dollars in lost revenue. Not only do attitudes such as these harm the customer experience, they make internal politics a complete nightmare. Can you imagine saying to a customer, "Oh, there's no content that describes what you're looking for because we operate in silos. Sorry?" That attitude directly affects your bottom line, as your customers will jump to your competitors' websites to have better conversations with them.

When you have a team of writers, a team of developers, and a team of social media professionals, you get into trouble fast. Teams that don't cross-collaborate and share ideas with each other are stuck moving content from one team to the other. Baton-tossing content across teams does not result in better content. Too often, this duplication of efforts causes creation of content that confuses customers, resulting in lost revenue, wrong product offers, and general confusion for all parties.

So how do we fix this mess? How can executives, who have true control over the way departments are organized, remedy this old way of doing business that no longer works for our age of digital communications?

We must move toward teams that break down silos and offer all the information an organization as a whole can deliver to content consumers. First, executives have to support cross-department communications and shared resources. Everyone has to play nicely in the sandbox.

Second, organizations must establish multidisciplinary audience-engagement teams to break down silos and adapt to changing technologies. These teams may be a mix of internal and outsourced talent; for many organizations, that makes the most sense from a resource and project perspective.

A piece of content doesn't belong to any one department. Rather, they may own that content and are responsible for making sure it's up-to-date and still relevant for customers. But it's a shared object-similar to a tool in a toolbox. That piece of content facilitates communications with customers and fuels the sales process.

Different types of professionals create and manage amazing digital content by bouncing ideas off each other and bringing their creativity and specialized talent to the table. You can't afford to limit the team to a few people who are great in one or two areas. When you do that, you end up with content that cannot survive when it is tossed out to the great currents of the web.

Rather, you need a team of people who can wear many hats and cross technology, communications, and marketing elements. You also need different representatives across the company to give you new ideas and to provide fresh ideas so your customers can have the conversations they want to have.

Having people with expertise in different areas-particularly technology, which changes so quickly-will influence not only the quality of your content but also how you distribute it. Designers and developers who keep up with changing technology norms will inform your editorial and content teams how they need to think about the display and distribution of content. And using different representatives that cut across the organization will enable you to keep your digital strategy on target with company messaging.

In this case, breaking is for the greater good. As silos disappear, the content and the quality of web communications improves. In too many organizations, silos prevent effective web, mobile, and application projects. Too many people are producing the same work, costing companies time, money, and wasted talent. Instead, organizations must move toward a 21st-century model with partnerships and multidisciplinary teams.