HR Analytics

May 8, 2024

Integrating Data to Break Silos: Lessons from Venezuela's 8,573-Member Orchestra

In 2021, Venezuela's El Sistema won the Guinness World Record for the largest orchestra, assembling 8,573 instrumentalists and singers to perform Tchaikovsky's Slavonic March. And you can bet the harmony was out of this world!

If the 8,573 instrumentalists had rehearsed only in disparate groups, using different music sheets, the impact wouldn’t have been the same. For the desired outcome, all 8,573 of them needed to have practiced together and often enough to produce one sound while playing various instruments and performing different roles.

While this orchestra may be able to teach us a thing or two about symphony, organizations that struggle with inaccurate and incoherent data insights must understand that one of the main culprits is the lack of data collaboration. Your insights are getting trapped in silos

This often results in overlooked critical insights, leading to a disconnect from broader business goals. It's like watching opportunities slip through your fingers, not because the solutions aren't there, but because they're inaccessible where and when needed most.

By dismantling these silos and adopting a collaborative data culture, organizations can transform these barriers into bridges. When information flows freely across departments, it doesn’t just enhance efficiency; it changes how data empowers an organization. Barriers become bridges, and individual insights become an orchestra for success.

Let's explore how to determine when your company is stuck in silos and how to get out of the rut to build the collaborative data culture your organization needs.

How to Know When Your Company is Stuck in Silos

It’s great to know that working in silos is bad, but more often than not, companies don’t know when their team members are stuck in silos. Here are five signs to know when your team is lost:

  1. Conflicting Objectives: Different departments argue over whose data is 'correct'.

Underlying Issue: There's no centralized data governance, so departments create their own definitions and metrics. This leads to conflicting interpretations of even basic concepts like "turnover" or "high-potential employee."


  • Internal friction and mistrust erode cross-team collaboration.

  • Executive decisions are made based on the loudest voice in the room, not reliable evidence.

  • Progress on strategic initiatives is hampered because different functions can't agree on the baseline situation.

  1. Slow Progress: Even simple questions about turnover or hiring take forever to answer.

Underlying Issue: Analysts are buried under a mountain of requests, often poorly defined and lacking context. Fragmented systems mean they waste hours searching and cleaning data before even starting the analysis.


  • Business leaders lose patience and revert to gut-feel decision-making.

  • Opportunities are missed because insights arrive too late to be actionable.

  • Analysts become frustrated and demoralized, feeling like they're just data janitors.

  1. Hidden Insights: You suspect there are valuable insights to be found but can't connect the data.

Underlying Issue: Data lives in silos – HR data, finance data, customer service data, etc. Analysts lack the tools or the access permissions to bring it all together into a comprehensive view.


  • The company misses patterns and correlations that span multiple functions, limiting strategic vision.

  • Efforts to address problems are often only band-aid solutions because the root cause isn't visible with incomplete data.

  • Analysts end up doing surface-level reporting instead of truly insightful analysis.

  1. The Skills Gap: HR wants to use data, but reports are confusing, and analysts don't understand HR's needs.

Underlying Issue: Analysts get deep in the technical weeds, while HR struggles to translate data jargon into business implications. There's no process for ensuring analytical work aligns with the most urgent questions HR is trying to solve.


  • Beautiful dashboards go unused because they don't address what HR really needs to know.

  • Misunderstandings lead to requests being done incorrectly, requiring frustrating rework for the analytics team.

  • The divide widens between "data people" and those they serve, reinforcing a perception of people analytics as irrelevant.

5. Stuck in the Basics: Your talented team members spend more time fixing messy data than doing innovative analysis

Underlying Issue: There's been no investment in data quality initiatives or tools to automate cleaning. This lack of infrastructure forces analysts to waste time on manual tasks that could be streamlined.


  • Morale plummets as highly skilled team members feel underutilized.

  • Attrition risks increase as your best analysts look for more challenging work elsewhere.

  • The company is stuck doing only descriptive analysis about the past, not the predictive or prescriptive work that creates a real competitive advantage.

How To Revive A Siloed Organisation and Build Collaboration

Now that you're aware of the damage silos can cause, it's time to take action. 

The following solutions will help you break down those barriers, streamline communication, and transform your organization into a collaborative powerhouse.

  1. Assess the Current State: 

Start by conducting a thorough assessment of the existing silos within the organization. Imagine the conductor of El Sistema interviewing every single musician to understand their challenges, strengths, and how they could better harmonize with other sections. Your organization needs that same comprehensive understanding of its data landscape.

Identify departments that rarely interact, areas where data is not shared, and where misalignments in goals occur. This step involves gathering input from employees at all levels to understand the barriers to effective collaboration.

  1. Involve Communities of Practice (CoPs):

CoPs are like the music conductor who directs the music for the orchestra. In people analytics, they bring together analysts, scientists, visualization engineers, and your HR partners. CoPs help you:

  • Agree on the destination: Create a glossary of shared definitions so that everyone is working towards a unified goal.

  • Focus on What Matters: Understand what leadership needs from data so you don't waste time on analysis that may be irrelevant and won’t be used.

  • Spot New Shortcuts: Working in teams can help combine different perspectives that can uncover insights nobody would find alone.

  1. Promote Organizational Transparency: 

When CoPs help build out the structural solutions, it’s important to put things in place to ensure that the efforts are maintained. One of which is through increased transparency across the organization. Imagine if sections of El Sistema's orchestra practiced in secret, never sharing their progress.  The final performance would be a disaster! 

By sharing goals, metrics, and strategies openly across departments, having frequent check-ins and meetings, shared dashboards, and open forums, teams can discuss their projects and challenges in real-time and find solutions to prevent silos

  1. Beyond HRBP (HR Business Partner) Collaboration: 

While it’s essential that organizations use HRBPs to align their people strategy with their business strategy, true data collaboration extends beyond that. As different teams generate and manage data, they develop their own systems, usually without communicating with each other.

So, to build a true data collaboration culture, even departments like finance, marketing, and operations need to also integrate their data into a collective and accessible data system to yield the best results. 

  1. Address Resistance to Change: 

Humans don’t typically do very well with change - whether good or bad. So, when working towards breaking down silos to promote collaboration, change management is crucial in overcoming resistance to the new ways of working. 

Communicate the benefits of breaking down silos clearly and provide support during the transition period. Listen to employee concerns and involve them in the process of designing collaborative practices.

Building the Collaborative Data Culture Your Org Needs

Just as Venezuela's El Sistema orchestra showed us the power of unison with their record-setting performance, companies must ensure that their teams don't work in isolation, limiting the insights and outcomes they can achieve together. When data is trapped in silos, it’s like each section of an orchestra playing out of sync. Opportunities are missed, and the potential for innovation is stifled.

But breaking down silos isn't enough. It's about empowering your analysts and HR partners with the tools they need to harmonize data from across the organization. This is where a platform like eqtble comes in. eqtble connects your disparate data sources, helping you build a truly holistic view of your HR data and insights.  

Imagine the possibilities when workforce analytics, financial data, and operational metrics converge, revealing previously hidden drivers of success. You can book a demo here.