The Food for an Organizaiton: The Information


By

Ms. Surabhi Agarwal
Lecturer & Coordinator
MBA Department
Saroj Institute of Technology & Management
Lucknow
 


We view the pile of data as an asset to be learned from. The bigger the pile, the better if you have the tools to analyze it, synthesize it, and make yourself more creative.
                                                              
---Britt Mayo, Director of Information Technology, Pennzoil

Whether you are a businessman or serviceman; whether you are at work or at home, it does not matter where you are. The most important thing that everybody wants is the information about the surroundings. Similar is the case with organizations whether it is about the employees, customers, market competitors or others. In most business organizations, people need to see information in a variety of ways. Senior executives often want to see a consolidated view of sales, then a view by region, then by country. Sales managers want to see numbers by team and individual sales or by customer accounts. Product manager want to see numbers by sales channel or to drill down to see what Stock-Keeping units are selling well or poorly. Different people need to see month and year-to-date sales, actual sales vs. budget, year-over-year changes in sales, and sales in U. S. dollars or other currencies. Typically, a company's financial department produces a very large number of separate reports to meet these various business needs. Thus, all the business organizations need the information at all levels at the right time, at the right place, and for the right people.

The data is already there in the organization but it needs to processed and converted in the form of information, which can answer the questions of the business problems and can be made available rightly. Though at the heart most business problems are information problems, almost no one is using the information well. The flow of information would give everybody quick, tangible knowledge about what was really happening in the organization, in the market as well as with the customers. The information flows in all the direction in the organization; from top to bottom, bottom to top and the peer to peer.


Fig.: Vertical Flow of Information in the Organizations

Again a problem arises how to manage the information. For this purpose, several technologies have emerged. Now a day, all kind of information—numbers, text, sound, video—can be put into digital form that any computer can store, process and forward. Standard hardware combined with a standard software platform has created economies of scale that make powerful computing solutions available inexpensively to companies of all sizes. Digital tools and techniques enable the companies to do information work with far more efficiency, depth and creativity.  The digital tools and techniques form a kind of nervous system in the organization, which can be called as digital nervous system.

Just like the human nervous system, the digital nervous system is there. The biological nervous system triggers the reflexes so that you can react quickly to danger or need. It gives you the information you need as you ponder issues and make choices. You are alert to the most important things, and your nervous system blocks out the information that is not important to you. Companies need to have the same kind of nervous system—the ability to run smoothly and efficiently, to respond quickly to emergencies and opportunities, to quickly get valuable information to the people in the company who need it, the ability to quickly make decisions and interact with customers.


Through human intelligence and collaboration, we transform static sales, customer, and demographic data into the design of a product or a program. Information work is a thinking work. When thinking and collaboration are significantly assisted by computer technology, one has the digital nervous system. It consists of the advanced digital processes that knowledge workers use to make better decisions.  

A digital nervous system comprises the digital processes that closely link every aspect of a company's thoughts and actions. Basic operations such as finance and production, plus feedback from customers, are electronically accessible to a company's knowledge workers, who use digital tools to quickly adapt and respond. The immediate availability of accurate information changes strategic thinking from a separate, standalone activity to an ongoing process integrated with regular business activities. 

For example, a sign of a good digital nervous system is how focused your face-to-face meetings and whether specific actions come out of them. Pilots like to say that good landings are the result of good approaches. Good meetings are the result of good preparation. Meetings shouldn't be used primarily to present information. It's more efficient to use e-mail so that people can analyze data beforehand and come into meeting prepared to make recommendations and engage in meaningful debate. Companies struggling in too many unproductive meetings and too much paper don't lack energy and brains. The data they need exists somewhere in company in some form. They just can't readily put their hands on it. Digital tools will enable them to get the data immediately, from many sources, and to be able to analyze it from many perspectives. 

Therefore, the successful companies will be those which make decisions quickly, act efficiently, and directly touch their customers in positive ways. That is why the information acts like food for the organization as it acts as a foundation stone in each firm.
 


Ms. Surabhi Agarwal
Lecturer & Coordinator
MBA Department
Saroj Institute of Technology & Management
Lucknow
 

Source: E-mail March 16, 2008

          

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