Top Tech Innovations For Getting Faster Access to Info

Five ways that user-focused IT professionals can create tools for executives to access information quickly and flexibly.

It’s usually up to IT staff to get the information executives need into their hands quickly and flexibly.

Making that happen, write Thomas H. Davenport and Jim Hagemann Snabe in “How Fast and Flexible Do You Want Your Information, Really?”, may mean any of the following:

  • “In memory” applications that allow rapid query and interactive analysis;
  • Moving larger amounts of information into “data warehouses,” where it can be accessed directly by users and employed in analyses;
  • New types of databases (one form of which stores data in columns) that are optimized for query and reporting, rather than transaction processing;
  • Faster microprocessors in PCs and servers that have been created for the purpose of data analysis;
  • Easy-to-use software that allows executives to do their own queries and analyses with a few clicks of a mouse.

Analysts and user-focused IT professionals, write Davenport and Snabe, “can help to train executives to use the needed tools. IT executives and professionals will need to work hard to ensure adequate data governance, integration and currency for the information that really matters to decisions.”

Davenport is the President’s Distinguished Professor of Information Technology and Management at Babson College and research director of the International Institute for Analytics. Snabe is co-CEO of SAP AG.

Their story appears in the Spring 2011 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review. The story’s leading question: “When aiming to speed up information flow, which kinds of information matter most?”