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Improving the Decision-Making Process

Improving the Decision-Making Process

Information that is readily available to the right people at the right time, and that enables them to act quickly and decisively, is a crucial requirement of enterprises that intend to grow and remain profitable. The intelligent delivery of information must obtain maturity levels consistent with enterprise goals and must employ the appropriate technology to facilitate this purpose. In today's enterprise environment, users must consolidate data and deliver it as useful information and knowledge that empowers the right business decisions.

Information delivery maturity can be described as the ability of an enterprise to provide the correct information, to the correct person or system, at the correct time, in the correct format, in an intuitive, flexible, and secure manner, so that the correct action can be taken. Information delivery requirements include making data centrally accessible and available, processing the data into trustworthy information that is understood by the user, presenting information in the context of the user's role, and using the information to automate appropriate processes. There are four levels of information delivery maturity, and as enterprises grow from one level to the next, they gain the ability to control and use information within the organization.

Business and IT executives are under increasing pressure to improve effectiveness and efficiency while cutting costs, creating value from IT investments, and demonstrating ROI. The key is information that, unfortunately, is often difficult to find. A December 2002 Integrated Solutions study found that business professionals spend up to 50% of their time looking for pertinent information, make an average of 19 copies of each document, spend an average of $120 in labor searching for each misfiled document, lose 1 out of every 20 documents, and spend an average of 25 hours re-creating each lost document. Other barriers to timely information delivery include:

  • The data exists in heterogeneous formats and in different locations.
  • Just because data is available doesn't mean users have the information or knowledge they are seeking.
  • Depending on the structure of an enterprise, information sharing may be problematic.
  • Information may be available, but not necessarily relevant.
  • Application of intelligence to information in order to facilitate automatic action is a complex process.

    The Information Delivery Maturity Model provides a basis for addressing the challenges and opportunities of knowledge delivery within an organization, and identifying key requirements for improving information access, relevancy, and analysis. The model defines four levels of information delivery. As organizations progress through the levels, they attain increasingly detailed information access and analysis to improve and automate the business decision-making process. Each level targets specific information delivery challenges, and once users achieve a certain level, they encounter new challenges that encourage them to aspire to the next level. Users also realize that it is virtually impossible to go back to lower levels, simply because they cannot afford to compromise efficiencies already achieved.

  • Level 1: Focuses on centralizing access to data. Users save time because they know where to go in order to get the data they need. Data on paper and other physical media needs to be digitized for easy access and longevity. Manual processes are automated to the furthest extent possible, and people are given appropriate access to the data they require to do their jobs.
  • Level 2: Focuses on transforming raw data into information that is objective, trustworthy. and usable. This often involves automatic refining, sorting, and analysis of data to present information to the user in a manner that is clearly understood.
  • Level 3: Involves the application of operational intelligence tools to extract and deliver relevant information to decision makers, taking their individual roles into consideration. Filtering out the unnecessary and delivering only relevant knowledge saves significant time and enables users to make better decisions quickly.
  • Level 4: Empowers users to set up custom rules for their unique roles, responsibilities, and experiences so as to receive the appropriate information and automate the necessary response.

    Despite long-time availability of systems - including knowledge management, business intelligence, decision-support, and executive information systems - many organizations have yet to attain intelligent information delivery. Others are struggling to move beyond simple data access into more sophisticated analysis and personalization. Each level of information delivery maturity provides great value to an organization, depending on the needs of the business at a given time.

    Managing information and delivering knowledge to decision makers within the enterprise is complex, but by no means impossible. With an understanding of an enterprise's information delivery maturity, users can leverage information assets to provide maximum business value.

  • More Stories By Sumit Deshpande

    Sumit Deshpande is a technology strategist in the Office of the CTO. He defines and communicates Computer Associates' global strategy for wireless technology and business intelligence solutions. Sumit has a broad range of IT experience, including networking, application development, technology consulting, and market analysis.

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