Spanning silos: a marketing imperative

David Aaker

Virtually all organisations from IBM to HP to Unilever to CitiGroup, are collections of silos – organisational units that have their own management team. Product silos, are business units defined by product or service offerings and country silos, are geographic silos defined by countries or regions. In addition, there are functional marketing and communication silos striving, often in vain, to achieve integrated marketing communication.

Most organisations are proud of their decentralised product and country structure, and with good reason. Decentralisation potentially involves management teams that are intimate with customers and markets, conversant with products and applications, close to competitor strategies, accountable for results, and empowered to act quickly. Strategy can be delegated to contexts that are relatively simple and narrow in scope.