MIS Quarterly Executive


This article describes how Western Digital (WD), a global hard-drive manufacturer that supplies over 100,000 hard drives a day, built a vigilant information system (VIS) that includes both sensing and responding capabilities. The system includes an underlying layer of business intelligence applications that analyze data from numerous sources, and management dashboards that automate the alerting process and provide the means for responding. Its operational costs have been reduced almost 50% due both to the VIS and to revamping WD's business processes so that the right people are alerted and have the means to respond correctly and quickly. Seven lessons were learned from this effort: 1. Design the real-time management dashboards to be the nerve center for managing the enterprise. 2. Plan and schedule the coordination among teams to use the dashboards to manage enterprise-wide. 3. Build a learning loop around each OODA (observe, orient, decide, act) loop to foster group learning because the faster the loop, the more important the learning reviews. 4. Match the time latency of each OODA loop to the organization's needs and capabilities to become truly vigilant. Do not indiscriminately chase zero latency. 5. Provide the building blocks for the "sense-and-respond" real-time enterprise through a vigilant information system and real-time management dashboards. 6. Justify vigilant information systems on a basis other than return on investment. 7. Make implementation of an enterprise-wide VIS a management initiative (not a technology initiative) because it requires "active, collaborative engagement" from all top management to instill the needed organizational transformation.