Executive information systems, company libraries and the future of information services in business
The aim of the study was to investigate the development of Executive Information Systems (EIS) in twenty large British companies and to also determine what role, if any, the company library played. Also investigated was the future of the library and other corporate information systems as a provider of information services to business. A multiple-case study methodology was adopted for carrying out the research. Interviews were conducted with nearly 70 respondents; these included librarians, EIS developers and senior manager users of the EIS, and EIS vendors. All three corporate respondent groups have poor perception of Information Management policy, politics and culture. Most EIS are developed using prototyping or CSF method without reference to any frameworks or strategic business plan, and a lack of co-operation from senior managers. EIS are developed because of internal pressures. Their main use is as an operational tool and for monitoring/analysis. EIS has made managers more aware of information as corporate asset but few request improvements to the system. Most EIS are successful and percolate further down the management hierarchy, but they have not lived up to their original expectations. EIS impact on both the library and company is slight. Most librarians know about EIS, mainly by chance. Only four company libraries were involved in the development of EIS because most EIS are internal financial systems, and the library is seen as irrelevant. However, they are more likely to be involved if the library reports to a corporate strategy department, be physically near EIS teams, and personally know the EIS developers. Libraries are consulted because they are seen as extemal data experts; their main role is acting as external information consultants or as a conduit for external sources directly into the EIS. Despite many librarians being proactive many also have a pessimistic view of their future. They believe they are seen by senior management as increasingly irrelevant and targets for cost cutting, and as such few openly promote themselves within the company. However, the study also shows that librarians may have new roles to play as information becomes much more widely accessible in business through knowledge management technology such as Lotus Notes and intranets.