THE INFORMED EXECUTIVE
In the mid-eighties, management depended on their internal MIS (Management
Information Systems) department to develop custom reports, which offered them
snap shots of business activities.
These custom reports assisted management in
analyzing sales, customer service, marketing and related activities to enable better
utilization of resources and increased productivity.
These reports were often late in
being delivered due to backlogs in programming assignments.
With a lag time of 3-4
weeks, these reports could not provide timely information to evaluate current
opportunities or service issues.
This prevented management from making immediate
changes based on relevant information in order to be more competitive.
the information contained in these reports could do little more than provide a general
understanding of a company’s past performance.
These reports could only tell a
manager where the company had been but not necessarily where the company was
Pilot Ship, an EIS (Executive Information System) software company, attempted to
address management’s frustration with internal MIS reporting by developing an
application that generated dynamic real time graphical reports.
Subsequently, other EIS
companies began to emerge in the marketplace.
Few of these did achieved success,
however, due to the closed and proprietary nature of their software, which made
integration complicated and costly and continued making reporting a chore.
By the mid-nineties, vendors did begin to offer software applications that provided user-
friendly access to critical business information.
Moreover, the introduction of GUI
(Graphic User Interface), e.g., pipeline, pie charts, 2-D and 3-D bars made analysis
Some applications even featured heightened functionality so that the user could
configure and tailor reports.
Despite all these advances, executives nonetheless, were not
interested in becoming report writers.
In addition, the data necessary to run reports often
existed in multiple, disparate locations resulting in segmented and incomplete views of
This compounded the difficulties encountered by executives in
obtaining accurate and timely information.
Continued industry developments led to the advent of OLAP (On Line Analytical
Processing) to help management analyze information more easily.
Corporation built a proprietary real time reporting tool to track products such as
hamburger sales by variables such as time or location.
Interfaces were developed to
enable the use of cash registers to track the number of products sold.
was used to tally the next day’s shipment of hamburgers, buns, fries, etc.
application also enabled McDonalds to more accurately measure and adapt to market
variables such as the impact on sales during a ballgame, a radio/television ad or even the
If the impact of a ballgame on a day’s worth of hamburger sales could be measured for a