When I was 7 or 8 and living on a farm in Michigan, I was a Rat Patrol junkie. After viewing an episode involving paratroopers, I grabbed an old blanket and some bailing twine and proceeded to climb up our very old silo (see photo). I was determined to test my newly-designed paratrooper capabilities and silently appear over enemy lines. Needless to say, my mother’s heightened awareness, and very demanding voice, brought me climbing back down without incident.
Silos have been getting a bad rap lately...and I really don’t think all of it is fair. The biggest reason for this disrespect, I believe, is that, to many, the word "silo" still carries its analog-world definition.
Recently, I’ve read through Spanning Silos by David Aaker, And I've certainly read and written my share of redundant points of view concerning vertical and horizontal integration. But most of us have been living in a digital world for decades now, and, other than defining a brand’s physical position within a market segment, there are no longer vertical or horizontal planes of reference. Everything in our minds is seamless (or should be). And we make a living by assisting our clients with articulating their brand(s) accordingly.
I often use the term “digital silo” when explaining to clients the concept of digital asset optimization (DAO). This term means, basically, that everything associated with a particular brand needs to be “linked,” or "siloed" in order to benefit from the sum of all its parts. I firmly believe that effective and meaningful search capabilities, whether internal or external, will continue to be the most important communications tool available for the foreseeable future. Putting in place systemic protocol regarding these efforts will continue to prove paramount.
Social silos, the likes of AOL, Facebook and MySpace, should, in my opinion, be avoided completely. Corporates' ability to develop and implement their own proprietary Enterprise Applications will soon become commonplace and is the subject of a future post. Stay tuned.
Now, before I hear someone scream the word “portal,” let me say this: I believe that portal is a larger contextual term. Your browser is a portal. Google® is a portal. These items can open up whole new worlds. My clients, on the other hand, are not trying to be all things to all people (at least, not if I can help it!). A corporation with many brands could certainly consider an entry point to all of their brands a portal. Sort of like a farm, with corn, wheat, soybeans, oats, barley… you get the idea.
photo credit: brother Richard