I live and work in Indiana, a state rich with both high-tech and agribusiness, so believe me, I understand the value of silos... for farming, that is. Corporate silos are another matter entirely.

Corporate silos are outdated. They’re impractical, and (I can’t be any more direct than this) they have no place in the modern enterprise. Silos, whether within marketing itself or between marketing and other departments, impede virtually everything that’s vital to success in today’s fast-paced and multifaceted business environment.

Even so, dismantling traditional corporate structure isn’t easy. How do you begin?

I tackle this topic in great detail in my book, "Big Data Marketing"; but in a nutshell, it all comes down to one thing: using your customer data as a wrecking ball.

Follow these five steps:

Set a customer-focused vision and strategy: Communicate and drive a shared understanding of expectations, goals and anticipated returns. The key: Identify where customer data lies across the business and integrate it to create a single view of all the interactions customers have with your company. Our research shows that only 18 percent of marketers have this kind of insight. Resolve that today, a single view of your customer data becomes your first priority.

Collaborate so everyone’s a part of marketing: Since every customer-facing function needs to deliver your message, you need robust communication channels for two-way exchanges of information. Some companies use circulated reports with scheduled cross-functional team meetings. Others make this a standing topic in quarterly or operational meetings. Alternatively, you could create an internal collaboration platform like Jive or Chatter to provide real-time updates to the appropriate team(s).

Remain transparent: You need buy-in beyond marketing. To get it, equip yourself with the right tools. Today’s technologies allow you to track your way toward revenue goals, get instant visibility into spending and campaign ROI, and know where you stand on customer satisfaction, market share growth and virtually any other metric. Transparency between sales and marketing is especially essential. It enables sales to provide you with the feedback needed to optimize marketing initiatives.

Share what you did: Communicate results with the entire company so others learn where opportunities exist and what’s been improved. Use data to demonstrate marketing’s contribution to the company’s objectives, and give them what they want – not how many Facebook “likes,” but return on marketing investment (ROMI) or the number of marketing-qualified leads.