The 2008/2009 economic crisis provided a sustainable impulse for improving environmental scanning systems (ESS). Although a rich body of knowledge exists, concepts are not often used in practice. This article contributes a literature review addressing six findings for ESS design to become more applicable than the state of the art. They are structured by the elements of information systems (IS) design theories. Addressing the lack of a sound requirements analysis, our first finding proposes a 360- degree ESS for executives' "managing a company" task and presents how to select just the most important scanning areas to keep focus. Three other findings cover the IS model perspective focusing on a better "grasp" of weak signals: define concrete indicators and use IT to identify relevant cause effective- chains, leverage IT to automate day-to-day routines and monitor the variety of indicators' movements, and leverage expert experience and translate indicators' impact into a balanced opportunity-and-threat portfolio. From the methods perspective on ESS, we fifth propose to incorporate scanning results into executives' decision-making process more closely by generating scenarios from a set of assumptions and the development of indicators. Retrospective controls to update the ESS continuously and collaboration to share the scanning findings in day-to-day operation is our sixth finding. Finally, an instantiation at a large international company helped us validate our findings and to highlight how current developments in IS contribute to successful design, implementation, and day-to-day operation of new-generation ESS.


Corporate management, Balanced chance and risk management, Business intelligence (BI), Management Support Systems (MSS), Information systems (IS)design


ISBN: [978-1-86435-644-1]; Full paper