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 management with timely information to
evaluate current opportunities or service issues in order to make immediate decisions
to be more competitive.
Ultimately, the information contained in these reports could
do little more than provide a general understanding of a company’s past
These reports could only tell a manager where the company had been
but not necessarily where the company was going.
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 companies achieved
success due to the closed and proprietary nature of their software, which made integration
complicated and costly.
By the mid-nineties, vendors did begin to offer software applications that provided user-
friendly access to critical business information.
Moreover, the introduction of a GUI
(Graphic User Interface), e.g., pipelines, 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 sales (e.g., hamburgers
and fries) by variables such as time or location. The information, which was pulled
directly from the store cash registers, was used to tally the next day’s shipment of
hamburgers, buns, fries, etc.
This 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 weather!