Breaking Silos

When we refer to Silos, we visualise an infrastructure which has tall walls, no windows, limited human access and stands alone. Let’s take an analogy for business.

In an information overload world, brands today face a challenge of numerous forces that come into play, some unexpected and some that could bear testimony to the fact, it does impact the brand value of an organisation.

Often it is due to working in silos, where different departments and functions of the organisation are not aware of each other’s contribution and hence fail to comprehend how their own actions will impact the overall goal of the organisation.

One study revealed that 70% of customer experience professionals and executives view silo mentality as the biggest obstacle to customer service.

A siloed organisation slows the decision-making process, marketing and sales teams then don’t collaborate and organisational inefficiency creeps in with lack of communication.

Today we are spoilt for choice with numerous communication platforms and tools, to share and make information accessible at our fingertips. With such opportunities, effective communication should not be a challenge to build organisations which can have free flowing information, that empower the workforce to adapt new technologies. Technology and data analytics are amazing levers that help brands to navigate, mitigate and manage risk and communicate effectively in a digital world.

Many businesses have mastered the art of communication. They have all teams working towards a common purpose that effectively break communication barriers which might include, differences in perception, industry jargon, location and cultural differences that can affect productivity.

Forward-looking organisations believe in breaking the barriers through authentic & timely communication, and only then can any organisation have an unified workforce, which then positively affects the bottom line.

When leaders begin to build new bridges and remove organisational silos that have become prevalent over the years, only then they can bring in valuable brand equity, competitive strength and build a common voice that will appeal to all stakeholders.

It will need leaders who have to be effective role models, to be open and honest with the people who work with them. That is when employees will understand the good news or the bad news and how their role is contributing to the common goal, and develop a sense of Purpose.

Authenticity, transparency, ethics, governance and a strong social value proposition, with a focus on people, planet and prosperity can lead to a risk-free, proactive approach to build and protect reputation.

This can be upheld by not only the corporate communication teams, but also in equal measure by all teams.

The sum of experiences will open doors for innovation, create new leadership that serve to deliver on a much richer organisational culture. It’s all about movements that creates ownership and accountability that can protect an organisation’s brand personality and culture.

Now the stakeholder universe is not just the customer, it’s the entire supply chain of the process that finally emerges out of the Silo. Once the organisation is singing one tune and has strong beliefs and produces world-class products and has optimised best practices, collaborated and ready to enhance its market value, it still has to consider the dynamics of the marketplace!

It is the entire supply chain that needs to be addressed in equal measure, like in an agro-commodities business, from the time you sow the seeds in the soil, test the soil, enrich it with the right manure, ensure the right amount of fertiliser is used and weather conditions are mapped to ensure the produce is of best quality. It then enters the market place, auctioned at the best price and stored in best condition in a Silo, moves out of the Silo in a good condition and finally comes to our homes attractively priced and packaged. An organisation that understands and seeds the brand with the farmer, the market place, the transportation system, storage and helps assure finance, ensures the process is audited and all regulatory compliances are adhered to and makes it robust with interface all all touch points succeeds in building the brand value.

Ultimately the market perception of the investor community which has many gatekeepers and activist shareholders need to be engaged in a transparent manner where perceptions on ethics governance, care for the environment and social impact is the value proposition. Today with the SEBI guidelines for Integrated Reporting for listing companies in India, corporate reporting has evolved significantly over the last decade to be more transparent, relevant and comprehensive in providing information to key users and stakeholders. The Companies Act 2013, Corporate Social Responsibility Legislation, SEBI Listing Requirements, Business Responsibility Reporting, are some of the key regulatory developments in India that are focused on improving the quality of disclosures and increasing business accountability towards societal issues.

The success of brand perception is the sum of all these experiences and also how well-crafted is the reporting in BRR in the Annual disclosures that helps builds trust with stakeholders & investors.

It works well to combine empathy, emotion and business outcomes that promote a strong narrative into the creative storytelling, and purpose then moves to be a movement which protects the brand when unexpected crisis or even natural disasters that can adversely impact the business hits, the community then protects the brand and keeps it resilient and relevant!

Staying relevant and creating an emotional bond and fostering collaboration among the different teams such as Sales, Operations, Legal, Finance, Internal Audit, Marketing, HR, CSR, Sustainability & Investor Relations, organisations will be able to make informed decisions, serve customers better, and ultimately, increase sales and enhance brand value.

Millennial leaders with experienced mentors can collaborate to create a unified vision, promote free-flowing information, create the right culture and prevent Silos!

It’s all about PEOPLE with PURPOSE that POWER brands.

The views expressed here are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of Reputation Today.

Roma Balwani
Senior Advisor, Brand & Communications at Vedanta Limited
Roma oversees key portfolios of brand management, stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications to promote Vedanta as a purpose-driven organisation. She has over three decades of experience in communications.

Prior to Vedanta, she was the Chief Group Communications Officer at Mahindra Group, India. Roma is an Ind. Director of CMI FPE Ltd.

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