SFFA - Executive Information

SFFA - Executive Information - THE INFORMED EXECUTIVE In...

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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 performance. 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 easier. 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 business activity. 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. McDonalds 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!
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If the impact of a ballgame on a day’s worth of hamburger sales could be measured for a fast food restaurant, then why not measure the impact of a sales promotion or trade show event on a cellular phone re-seller? Using real-time reporting tools, companies thus
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