You’ve certainly heard of (and you probably have one) the executive information system (EIS). The refined pinnacle of decision support, the EIS is the answer to senior management’s most fervent prayers: an information source that offers up the most critical decision support data at the moments when it’s needed most.
A typical EIS satisfies the two primary requirements of the senior executive: it delivers only the specific information that the executive needs in order to get the job done; and, the executive can call it up at a moment’s notice.
The EIS is a stroke of genius. It is senior management’s response to the accelerating pace of business and increasingly dynamic interactions between companies. But there’s a problem. While it is a powerful tool and worthy of your best efforts to realize in your company, it is folly to assume such a tool is exclusively the province of senior management.
With vision, this level of functional intelligence can and should be made accessible to every employee, from the CEO down to the lowliest junior accountant.
And that is ultimately the point of enterprise.
Defining And Solving The Problem
Functional divisions between an organization’s various departments have become barriers to data access in this ‘on-demand’ era, when performance must exceed all reasonable standards in order to remain competitive.
Your line managers and hands-on personnel no longer have time to request a report from across the hall. Unprecedented strategic planning and tactical process tuning are made possible when logistics and financials not only march in tandem but dynamically impact one another at the transaction level.
The best metaphor for describing the way enterprise will change the flow of data and, therefore, information, in your company is to imagine a lake, surrounded by villages and fed by mountain streams.
Each village sends villagers with buckets to the lake and they haul water back to their particular village. That’s your company, pre-enterprise: the lake is your centralized database, the villages are your various departments, and the buckets are application programs.
Enterprise obliterates the lake in favor of aqueducts that interconnect and feed every village directly. Buckets are obsolete, and no one needs to waste time chasing water; the water now comes to them.