Much of what we do in the BPM/Workflow space has to due with bridging the gap between business silos within organizations. All businesses of a certain size have them, and in the majority of cases they contribute to inefficiency. However since all businesses have them, are business silos not always a bad thing. Therefore what should you look for to determine when bridging a silo is just, a bridge to far.
Silos come into being for a number of reasons like: companies or generally hierarchical in nature, they may have had mergers and acquisitions, poor planning or just different requirements. Sometimes silos are formed instantly but generally they form over a period of time.
So when is a silo a good thing or at least not all bad?
Well in some cases similar IT systems may be replicated in various degrees within an organization but due to different requirements these may be a requirement. This could be related to the general cultural or geographic requirements of a silo.
Silos provide a level of security. They intrinsically act like firewalls.
Finally there is the possibility of information overload. Putting all the information in one place when the majority of information and features might be visible but inapplicable across the business silos is unwise.
It is important to consider when developing BPM applications what the negative effects will be for technology with respect to silo bridging. It is also important to consider the political effects as well but that is a blog for a different day.