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Getting the Right Information to the Right People

Question 2: In terms of planning, how meaningful is a multi-year historical view of customer orders, materials acquisitions, inventory turnover, staffing levels, etc.?


a. Not very meaningful
b. Very meaningful

In some industries or companies, the long-term view provides valuable insights into buying behavior, cost estimation, labor requirements and other important business factors. However, in a technology business where products, services and target markets change rapidly, looking back at numbers from two or three years ago would be strictly an academic exercise.

Question 3: Is summarized historical data primarily of interest only to specific departments, such as finance or sales and marketing?

a. Yes.
b. No. Interest is more widespread.

The answer to this question tells you fairly quickly whether you need to take an enterprise-wide or departmental approach to your project.

Question 4: Which of the following describes your business database environment?

a. Nearly all relevant financial, customer or marketing data is stored in a single database (e.g., iSeries) and maintained on a single server
b. More than one computing platform (Windows NT*, iSeries, UNIX*, etc.) is used to record financial, sales, marketing and production transactions or externally generated databases.
c. Nearly all relevant financial, customer or marketing data is stored in a single database on multiple servers or at multiple locations. (Presumably, if you're reading this article, much of your data originates in the business management software running on DB2* UDB for iSeries. However, you also may subscribe to databases developed by third-party providers of marketing or industry intelligence, government agencies and others. Some of this data may currently be stored in isolation on individual desktops or other servers. You need to know if and what type of database integration is desirable.)

Question 5: Which of the following describes your company's decision-making style?

a. Decision-making authority is centralized to a small number of senior executives.
b. Middle-managers in departments are encouraged to make their own decisions.
c. Most employees with customer contact responsibility have decision-making authority.

Question 6: Which of the following describes your company's growth strategy?

a. Growth occurs through acquisitions, but acquired entities operate autonomously and independently.
b. Growth occurs through acquisitions, but acquired entities are integrated into the enterprise.
c. Growth occurs through the opening of new facilities/stores in new geographies but with centralized management.
d. Growth occurs through expansion of goods and services provided in current target market(s).


Bill Langston is director of marketing for New Generation Software Inc., and a developer of iSeries BI software. He can be reached at



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