systems recognize the conflicting pressures relating to centralization we discussed earlier in this section. Well-developed EIS systems permit increasingly sophisticated monitoring of performance ( McGee & Prusak, 1993), while not obtrusively interfering with the operations of lower level organizational employees.
Unlike more well-known MIS systems, which are primarily inflexible means of accumulating data, EIS systems focus on the analysis, presentation, and communication of data. EIS systems, such as Commander, Pilot, Lightship, and EIS-Track, contain several essential features: a briefing book overview, "drill-down" to allow users quick access to more in-depth information, information presented in graphic forms, flexible reporting of information along various dimensions and criteria (recognizing that organizational performance is multidimensional [ McGee & Prusak, 1993]), monitoring of exceptional performance, and keeping track of trends. They also permit "what-if analyses" that determine the impact various changes might have on organizational performance.
Information Centers. Developing "information centers" is one strategy for enhanced information seeking often employed by larger organizations ( Daft & Huber, 1987). These centers share many characteristics with traditional corporate libraries. Unfortunately corporate libraries seldom interact with the real users of information and, as a result, are becoming increasingly marginalized ( Broadbent & Koenig, 1988; McGee & Prusak, 1993). Information and referral centers can take many forms, such as hotlines, switchboards, and units within organizations (e.g., micro-computer support groups) where an individual can go to get answers to pressing concerns. They serve three primary functions: educating and assisting people in making wise choices in sources and topics for searches; making information acquisition less costly; and accommodating a range of users ( Doctor, 1992).
In many ways, the most useful thing referral services can provide is putting people within the organization who have the information in touch with those who seek to acquire it, thus the growth of corporate yellow pages ( McGee & Prusak, 1993). These yellow pages essentially expand on the traditional organizational chart by listing specific areas of technical expertise. So, for example, organizational members may not understand that their information technology office also can conduct communication network analysis as a diagnostic tool for determining user telecommunication needs. A detailed listing of functions, rather than organizational titles, can often facilitate the searches for organizational members.
All this suggests the increasing importance of information as a strategic asset to organizations that should be systematically incorporated in the planning of upper management ( Marchand & Horton, 1986). Corporations also need to