There is a need for cutting-edge tools to help CEOs and those in managerial positions have control over burgeoning corporate data. But the problem with state-of-the-art computer equipment and applications is the steep learning curve that needs to be overcome by the user. This led the developers of 21st century Executive Information Systems to develop applications that can provide user-friendly features and in the process allow CEOs and business managers to have readily available corporate data, literally at their fingertips.
This paper will present a basic overview of Executive Information Systems (“EIS”) and how it can provide a strategic advantage over the competition. This study will also show how EIS can be used to increase the efficiency of the company by providing its leaders with necessary data that will lead to clear-thinking decisions.
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The explosion of knowledge and the rapid development of technology does not mean that everybody can keep up with the changes. There are those who are caught between two worlds, in between the transition phase from low-tech to high-tech. Many of those who are having difficulty crossing from the analog age into the digital supercomputing age are senior executives who are overwhelmed by the sudden changes happening around them. They could not keep with the revolution in Information Technology.
In the words of Nemati and Barko, “In the past, companies have struggled to make decisions because of the lack of data. But in the current environment, more and more organizations are struggling to overcome ‘information paralysis’ – there is so much data available that it is difficult to determine what is relevant” (2004, p. 2). This underscores the need for more intelligent data management systems even if executives are having a hard time adjusting to technological changes.
But just like what one wise man had said, they have to adapt or perish. The number one need for senior executives who are the top honchos of complex businesses is the capability to use IT without having to spend time going through the fundamentals on how to use the PC or learn the intricacies of software and hardware. For these types of leaders what they need is a system that is as user friendly as their home entertainment system or maybe even better.
The design of modern EIS was based on the fact that there are CEOs that have very little computing skills and do not have the time to figure out a new system (Kosrowpour, 1997, p. 498). With the current rate of development of IT, it is impractical to expect them to master a new system every year. Providers of enterprise edition EIS such as the INTEGRA and the ExecutiveDashboard are marketing a computer application product that can basically do the following:
- Graphical Data Mining
- Drill down to get the details
- Instantly sort data by any date range by cusomter, plant /scale etc.
Pie and bar charts, trend analysis, comparative data ranages.
The evolution of EIS can be seen from Management Information Systems (MIS) that provides periodical reports and periodical answers. This system of getting information was upgraded to decision support systems (DSS) that was specifically designed to help executives and business managers make decisions. Still, these two systems are not very much helpful especially to those who are not experts in the use of computers. The next logical step is the EIS and according to Leondes, “EIS bring together relevant data from various internal and external sources to obtain useful information that helps to make strategic and competitive decisions” (2005, p. 197).
In the Integra company website one can find a description of what this type of EIS can do:
Integra takes data – as recent as the previous day’s invoice – and presents it to you in a way that makes sense for you as a manager … Once you’ve clicked a few times to tell Integra EIS what information you want, the information can be displayed in colorful, easy to interpret charts … All this information comes up fast … EIS keeps up with the fast pace of your business and doesn’t waste your time (see Integra’s Systech Inc.).
It is almost unbelievable, a true business solution that can really help a business break-away from the pack. One could just see the tremendous savings in time and money. There is also no more need to worry about not being updated because now information can be readily accessed even by someone who has elementary skills in computing.
As a result more and more world-class companies are using EIS to increase efficiency and achieve advantage over their competitors. The following uses EIS designed by Systech:
- Besser Company – an international firm specializing in concrete products.
- CES Wireless Technologies – a global leader in the design,manufacture and implementation of wireless and passive intelligent fleet management solutions.
- Trimble – specializes in Vehicle and Asset Management (see Systech-Inc.com).
Things to Improve
There is a considerable amount of literature available out there that highlights the need for a much improved security system when it comes to the management of information. In a rapidly evolving IT sector it is difficult to be abreast with current trends and new technologies. For EIS to be truly an effective it must not only demonstrate its capability to display data and provide reports for the managers – it must also be secure from attacks. EIS and its corresponding vendors like the firms selling Integra and ExecutiveDashboard must be able to demonstrate its capability to withstand hacking and illegal access from an outside source.
EIS must not be seen as weak point in the company’s IT security protocol. This means that the company must be well aware of not only how EIS works but also on how it is integrated into the overall management information system of the firm’s IT infrastructure.
There is no need to argue the fact that this generation belongs to the Information Age. In the past there is a real lack of knowledge and information. But in the 21st century this is no longer the case. The shrinking of the planet due to advancements in telecommunications and the availability of high-speed computers has enabled the inhabitants of this planet to acquire an overwhelming amount of information.There are even others who remarked that people living in this century are having too much data that they do not know what to do with it or at least utilize it to achieve something significant when it comes to daily living or in their day-to-day business.
It is therefore a welcome thought that the same technology source – digital technology – that brought about the explosion of knowledge is the same technology source that made possible software and hardware components needed to create Executive Information Systems.
EIS is a computer application that can be seen as the answer to the steep learning curve of most computer systems. It has been mentioned a while ago that not everyone are created equal when it comes to mastering basic computer skills. This has been the dilemma of most senior executives who could not keep up with the rapid evolution of computers. They can remain stubborn in sticking to low-tech – the use of typewriters, large pads for writing memos, sticky notes, manual creation of spreadsheets and reading voluminous data piled high on top of their desks. In order to survive in this highly competitive world shaped by globalization, these executives have to learn to adapt or they can kiss their high-paying jobs goodbye.
The EIS is an answered prayer to the desperate cry of non-techie executives. And it is a good thing that developers of commercial or enterprise editions of EIS made it a point to create a system that is easy to use and can be operated by those who have very limited computer use. The amazing thing about EIS is not really the user-friendly features. What is more unbelievable is the
fact that senior executives can have access to current and useful information with just the push of a button. And there is nothing trivial or elementary about the results displayed. The system can sift through a ton of data, organize it, filter it and present result in chart or table forms. It is not wishful thinking to see one week of sales figures, taken from 100 branches all over the world, collated and presented in a chart to show sales patterns in the past seven days.
In the traditional way of doing things there is no way that a team of workers can sift through a mound of data, record it in paper, use calculators and be able to present an accurate report within days or maybe even weeks. Computers significantly reduce human error and removes human frailties such as fatigue, sickness etc. Computers are amazing workhorses so to speak and they can be commanded to work tirelessly 24/7. The only challenge is to build a reliable system that combines all different features and then make it work to perform complicated business processes.
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