Matt Gunn, Managing Editor | TechComplysilos

Just another day at the farm.

It seems like for as long as I’ve been writing about technology — especially enterprise technology — that everyone’s been concerned about silos and the effect they have on data management, reporting and compliance. Disparate systems and devices built by different vendors and cobbled together to run all the various functions of the institution ultimately cause headaches for IT staff and senior management as they work to move their business forward while also abiding by the letter of the law. The problem of data silos has been a topic of conversation for years at this point, and it’s not going away.

Just this week Bank Systems & Technology pointed out a Financial Information Management Association survey illustrating that point:

The data reference challenge most often cited by the participants in meeting some of those regulatory requirements was data silos within their institutions, with 50% of the respondents ranking it as their first or second biggest challenge. And 51% of them said sharing data between different parts of their institution is difficult and requires manual effort every time data is shared. That percentage was just as high when the survey was conducted last year.

FIMA pulled that data from a pool of 110 respondents in the banking industry.

Whether it’s the result of different manufacturers or different standards across several generations of technology, the ability for systems to talk to each other still hasn’t entirely been solved. Perhaps that’s why the specifics of what the data silos often seem vague when they’re written about and discussed. The conversation around data silos is often driven by marketing concepts for retail banks, insofar as they limit an institution from achieving a single view of the customer across their entire financial lives. What’s interesting about the Bank Systems & Technology report is that, at least in the context of this particular survey, the concern involves compliance.

Transposing the idea of data silos to the world of network monitoring, support, security and patch management, one can see how disparate systems have an effect on compliance. If I’ve learned anything recently, it’s that documentation remains one of the most tricky components of compliance for banks and credit unions to achieve. As the Compliance Guru has pointed out before, written policies and procedures are the “what” and “how,” while documentation proves you followed through. It’s a lot like grade school arithmetic. You can write down all the correct answers, but your teacher wants some demonstration of understanding, and to know you didn’t take any shortcuts. Show your work.

Of course, it’s not always so easy in financial services IT. Particularly for smaller banks with limited staff and resources. An IT manager or admin can spend a lot of time simply pulling reports from different systems, not to mention performing their job duties in keeping the systems running.