Then, came the seventies. The EDP systems were being computerised.
There was a shift from data to information. The focus and shifted from data to analysis of corporate data. Managers wanted to take decisions based on the results given by the EDP department. They were not keen to look at awful tables, charts and figures made by computers.
They wanted to achieve the objectives of the firm by using the information; they were not keen to get bogged down by data sets that were being created by the EDP systems of the seventies. The piles of data could not be used by management of the firm. These were supposed to be converted into useful information. Note that EDP systems to generate information (after processing data). But, these sets of information must be in such formats as could be used by managers for taking vital decisions. During the seventies, the EDP departments lost their sheen.
They could not focus on the levels of management and the information needs of each and every level. The CEO was not keen to look at the detailed Profit and Loss Account, to quote an example; all the wanted to know was the profit or loss figures. Thus, by the end of the seventies, management researchers evolved a concept of filtering of data.
This concept was to be used later to let only those data trickle out of the voluminous data that would be used by management in decision making. Further, the data had to become information. It had also to be fit for the management level. Thus, the key concept that emerged by the fag end of the seventies was-delivery of the right sets of information in the right time to the right people (for the benefit of the firm). This concept was later called Management Information System or simply MIS.
The eighties came with a bang. A personal computer rules the roost in global markets. MIS departments also operated side by side.
They could not be dispensed with because, they had all the data! The advent of the user-friendly PC forced the managers to demand more decision-friendly information. The markets had become competitive and awfully dynamic. Information was the key to success in all the fields, especially in business endeavors. The PG revolution answered the “what- if’ question for the management.
This cause-and-effect aspect of management forced them to rely on latest, accurate and timely produced sets of information. Managers realised that the PG was able to give them decision support capability. Thus, Decision Support Systems DSS were created during the eighties; these essentially used PCs, main frame computers and Internet. The philosophies of decision support systems were put forth by Keen. He was of the view of that they systems ought to offer better user interfaces and adapt according to the decision style of the decision maker.
Finally, graphic tools in computerised systems also helped the DSS and MIS reach new heights. By the end of the eighties, expert systems had been developed. These systems were used in conjuction with the DSS to give-quality information to managers.
Later, these systems came to be called Knowledge Based Systems or KBS. The DSS and KBS were popular during the late eighties and early nineties. The power of Operation Research (OR) models and techniques was added to such systems during the eighties. When the DSS was combined with OR models, the managers shifted their focus in the context of decision making. Now, they asked “What is Best?” and not “What if?” The integration of the OR, DSS and management science systems led to a new concept called Model Management Systems (MMS).
Then came the nineties. The EDP targeted the operational level of management. The MIS/ DSS/MMS targeted the middle management. But, the top management asked for very precise, neatly defined, numerically perfect and timely produced information. For the top brass, Executive Information Systems (EIS) were defined.
Some of the EIS applications were Natural Language Interface, Voice Processing and Voice Response, Multimedia etc. During the midninties, Internet became a major data provider. The firms, individuals and government departments of all the countries tried to use it to collect data and convert them into useful information. Communications received a great fillip. Cellular phones WAP, DTH and Blue Tooth helped data move at high speeds. MIS depended upon electronic spreadsheets (like Lotus 123), database (like SQL and ORACLE) and programmes (like Visual Basic, Java and C++). During the nineties, the boon of information also perplexed executives.
They did not know what to do with these garganuan sets of information through most of these were refined and also, useful for them. Most of decision making activities became electronic or computerised. One need not go to a bark to collect cash; one go to the ATM counter of that bank and get cash from the machine. The bank teller is not in the picture at all! Similarly, at, higher levels, information were refined to become more technical, tabulated, graphic A complicated. But nevertheless, managers used it to take decision at quick speeds because, they knew how to manage computerised database, systems and terminals. They were also well versed with the Net, the information superhighway of this world. In the new century, we are in an era that teeming with information of all types.
The concept of MIS is in vogue. But, its modus operandi has changed. It uses an efficient and fast network of computers.
It helps managers take decisions at all the levels. Information is not hidden from any level of management; this trend was not present during the eighties and nineties. The concept of Wide Area Network had arrived during the eighties; it was consolidated during the nineties. Today, the world is a network of computers, some of these wired and some others unwired.
All the levels of management can have access to all the data. They have to pick and choose data related to their needs, convert them into information and use these sets of information to take decisions. Routine decisions involve little guidance of managers. High-level decisions require complete involvement of the top brass. All the data are computerised.
Software tools help us crunch the data and arrive at vital information sets. But, the peculiar aspect of today’s MIS is that some systems also give us sets of decisions. We can choose the best decisions out of these sets and implement it. Information is hidden; it is available at low costs. The function of the MIS department is to provide information sets at the right time to the right level of management at the lowest possible cost. Thus, we have arrived in the digital information age in true sense of the word and the MIS is the growth engine of this world.