The expression is typically applied to management systems where the focus is inward and information communication is vertical. Critics of silos contend that managers serve as information gatekeepers, making timely coordination and communication among departments difficult to achieve, and seamless interoperability with external parties impractical. They hold that silos tend to limit productivity in practically all organizations, provide greater opportunity for security lapses and privacy breaches, and frustrate consumers who increasingly expect information to be immediately available and complete. Although much has been written about them, information silos are becoming far more recognized as the major reason why organizations are unable to take full advantage of the Internet's power to interconnect business processes.
Another, slightly more academic, suggestion as to the term silo effect focuses on the gradual draining of the entire silo's grain from a remarkably small opening in the bottom. The Homogeneous state of the entire volume of grain makes it highly susceptible to small changes as they occur further and further down. This is because gravity, although apparently "unimportant" to a fully contained silo, suddenly shows itself to be an underlying force binding every single grain—something which becomes apparent when an "anomaly" occurs at the bottom. Moreover, the nature of grain makes it an excellent example of a "poorly connected" substance, prone to cascades of extreme collapse when they occur in favor of the systems overriding unified force. In this case, gravity. If the grain were more like a soapy foam, or even a gel, such a terrible collapse would be intrinsically averted, by means of the distributed multidirectional stability of its parts.
Systems thinking promotes a foaminess of collaboration, allowing for individual ideas to share the burden of the entire system. This assures excellent stability and adaptability—characteristics lacking in systems of thought which insist on homogeneity and absolute efficiency.
Silo technologies restrict the capabilities of the database applications which manage much of the world's structured information. Databases are the time-tested way of storing, using and safeguarding vital enterprise business procedures and data. Most of every organization's computerized information is controlled by database applications, including all the "back end" data on the web. While many database applications are very capable, even the most sophisticated are built with silos in mind, all but assuring that the business procedures and data in one maker's system will be unable to interact with similar—or even identical―business procedures and data in another maker's system. The vast number of incompatible database applications in use perpetuates the existence of silos, making it impossible for run-the-business software to take full advantage of the Internet.