Chapter 7. Executive Information Systems and the Data Warehouse

Prior to data warehousing, there were Executive Information Systems (EIS). EIS was a notion that computation should be available to everyone in the corporation, not just the clerical community doing day-to-day transactions. EIS presented the executive with a set of appealing screens. The idea was that the elegance of the screen presentation would beguile the executive. While there certainly is merit to the idea that the world of computation should be open to the executive, the founders of EIS had no concept of the infrastructure needed to get those numbers to the executive. The entire idea behind EIS was presentation of information with no real understanding of the infrastructure needed to create that information in the first place.

When the data warehouse first appeared, the EIS community roundly derided it as a complex discipline that required getting the hands dirty. EIS was a high-minded, elegant discipline that was above the hard work and management of complexity involved in a data warehouse. The EIS community decided that executives had better things to do than worry about such issues as sources of data, quality of data, currency of data, and so forth. And so EIS eventually died for lack of an infrastructure. (It can be argued that when the data warehouse appeared, EIS morphed into business intelligence.) It hardly mattered that the presentation to the executive was elegant if the numbers being presented were unbelievable, ...

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