Executive information systems in large businesses in Saudi Arabia : an exploratory study
In the developed countries, executives who carry the mam responsibility for the achievement of organizational objectives, are introducing Executive Information Systems (EIS), user-friendly software products designed especially to meet executives' internal and external information needs. The use of technology and the need for reliable information on which to base decision-making are issues currently attracting attention in Saudi Arabia, as prerequisites for attaining national development objectives. This is especially true of the private sector, which faces new challenges as a result of the increased role recently given to it by government policy. However, little or nothing is known about the availability and use of EIS in Saudi Arabia. This study, therefore, presents an overview, with international comparisons, of development in EIS, with a detailed investigation of the current situation of EIS in large companies in Saudi Arabia, in particular. A questionnaire survey was carried out among the 100 largest companies (measured by turnover for 1995) in which executives and IS personnel were asked about availability of EIS in their companies, patterns of information use, EIS development approaches and utilization, and users' satisfaction with EIS. The survey revealed that EIS were available in 52% of the 73 responding companies. Companies used and valued internal more than external information, and made little use of the EIS to gain external information. Development of EIS was usually in-house; little use was made of commercial EIS packages. Data tended to be centralized at head office. A major increase in EIS use appears to have occurred between 1991 and 1995 though there are still some "resisters" who do not use the EIS, despite having access to it. Few companies had experienced EIS failure, and respondents were highly satisfied with their systems' usability, cost-effectiveness, development and controllability. The companies' approach to developing EIS and experience with using it were related to company age, turnover, region and type (stock or non-stock). The Saudi experience appears to broadly similar to that reported in Western studies, except in the area of development approach and type of software used. The study concludes by highlighting significant results in terms of the comparison of EIS experience in Saudi Arabia with international experiences, especially in the U.K. and U.S.A.; and factors which may be expected to affect further development of EIS in Saudi Arabia, as well as having implications for education and research in this field.