By Jim Davis, Gloria Miller and Allan Russell.
Published by Wiley.
Where is your organisation on the evolutionary scale of information management? Probably among the 70% of companies which have barely left the primeval swamp, yet to move beyond the stage where data is controlled at a departmental – or even individual – level and used to tackle day-to-day functional issues.
The authors of Information Revolution – all senior strategists at business intelligence vendor SAS Institute – try to show how to get to the three stages beyond that by defining an Information Evolution Model that seeks to optimise how information is used to create greater business value. At stage one, individuals are still the ‘owners’ of the data used in day-to-day judgements. A step up and that data has been consolidated at a departmental or functional level. Stage three, integrates that into an enterprise-wide view. All very familiar. The real insight comes with exploration of what might come next.
At the‘optimisation level’, an organisation is “closely aligned with its markets and gains leadership by applying predictive insights about customers, suppliers and business partners”. And at the top of the food chain, an ‘innovation-level’ company sees “stainable growth and revenue potential fuelled by continuing creativity and renewal”.
These definitions may not seem particularly tight, but the SAS team spends plenty of time expanding on them, examining how each can be measured across four broad 'dimensions': infrastructure, knowledge processes, human capital and culture.
But, having established that matrix, the book then falls short of its potential. Rather than trying to map the model onto concrete business examples, the text becomes a tutorial with the reader asked to complete a 'self-assessment quiz' – 72 questions that identify their stage of evolution.
The 'case studies' that do appear are all anonymous and not particularly convincing. Surely, out of SAS's 40,000 customers, half a dozen could have been convinced to document their information evolution.
Rather, the focus is back on the reader: another 150-questions (this time on the dimensions) plus a 25-page worksheet. While the evolution model is based on a clear understanding of the true potential of business intelligence, such interaction suggests the contents might have worked better as a micro-site at sas.com.