Many companies keep their user information in seperate "silos" and thus miss out on the advantages (and disadvantages) of "unified contact management". The silos come into being as the company grows, as individual departments address their own needs for contact management, independently.
The Sales department is usually very early in the game, buying or developing a leads/customers list in a Customer Relationship Management system.
Once the company starts billing clients and paying bills, Accounting will start maintaining a seperate list of customers and vendors in their Accounting program.
Already, with only two silos, there are obvious business reasons for keeping the data seperate. Accountants don't want to their list to include leads, while Salesmen shouldn't be allowed to see the company books or vendor lists. Prioritizing the features that serve each of them, the seperate departments have pride for their own systems and actively discourage any attempt to unify them.
Now add Customer Support, Human Resources, UX/Branding/Marketting and various other departments to the mix, each following the company culture of having seperate contact lists and management systems.
Then a PeopleSoft or Sharepoint/Dynamics salesperson walks into the President's office and the war begins! From presidential hieghts it is easy to see that the seperate "silos" are inefficeint, requiring redundant maintenance of the same contact information in multiple contact lists. It is also easy to see that cross-department analysis would be invaluable, but each department is entrenched in their own system, covetous of the features they rely on and unwilling to learn new software when their existing software is meeting their needs.
This is a very common scenario in the Enterprise Software world and like most common challenges, it grows from an issue in timing.
Unified Contact Management systems are expensive, so startups don't usually buy them. Instead, they use cheaper department specific solutions as described in the scenario above. Lacking integration, these department specific silos serve the growing company but eventually need to be replaced by an integrated solutions, costing massive amounts of money and causing disruptions in every department.
There are some pretty good (and cheap) online solutions to this problem; integrated contact management systems with modules for each department. A startup which uses one of these in all of its departments, doesn't have to go through the turmoil of transitioning to an integrated solution later in its life.
Unfortunately, these solutions are facing an "ants among giants" situation in advertising their products. Any web search on the terms "Integrated Solution" or "Enterprise Software" brings up page after page of dealerships for big players in the game.
The friend who taught me what I have shared here, found and reviewed many of the smaller solutions, and chose one of the cheaper solutions for his startup a few months back. Tomorrow, I will check with him and augment this answer with the solution that he selected.