What is the answer to this question?
Caroline and Ron are happily married since 19 years. Caroline is 45 and Ron is 44. They have four children. Emily, Douglas, Emma and Oliver. Emily is twice as old as Oliver and Emma is their youngest child. Douglas is 4 years older than Emma. How old is Emma?
When I am out meeting customers I am still invariably struck by the fact that there is so much data available in an organization that is not being put to effective use. Problems are left unsolved. Questions are left unanswered. Data driven decisions are not being made? Why is this? One of the reasons is of course that a large majority of the data is unstructured or semi-structured and simply cannot be processed by traditional data warehouse solutions based on good old relational database technology. Another reason is that in order to fit data into those databases a big chunk is lost through the DETL process (Decide in advance what´s important, Extract, Transform, Load – a process which is both complex, costly and time-consuming, and leaves a lot of room for error) – data is literally being lost in translation.
The inevitable situation that most organizations find themselves in, is one where important data sits in silos at their point of origin. While that is a serious problem preventing radical data driven transformation of the organisation, it is merely a technical issue that with modern technology like Hadoop, quite trivially can be solved.
What makes matters a bit worse are the organizational and functional ownership silos of those same data sources. There is “ownership” associated with data and systems, and ownership implies power – which is something people will cling on to for as long as possible. It is an interesting  that as the sharing economy is gaining so much momentum (which at its core is about optimization) that we share so little within an organisation. In addition – who has got the big picture on what combinations of data can help solve a particular pressing business issue? Who is asking the questions? Who within the organization is questioning how effective we are in using the data that we have access to. It should really be the CEO and everybody else doing it.

So in summary. Data silos are a big barrier to becoming a data driven organization. That problem can easily be solved. Once people realize that, there will be ground up, and top down drive to break up the people, organisational, functional and cultural silos that are the true blockers from realizing the inherent value in data. Action – make the people who care – aware!
How old is Emma? Well – mathematically it is a problem that can not be solved unless you get some more information. There are simply too many unknowns. So you gave up?! But hey – why don’t you just go and ask Emma? Or Douglas..or Caroline, or one of Emmas friends? So relating to your business – you have the data. Just go ask for it.