Posted: May 25th, 2022

Executive Information Systems & Digital Dashboards

Executive Information Systems and Digital Dashboards: What They Are, How They Work, And How They Can Add Value

Today, computer applications are available that can help companies of all types and sizes improve their performance and profitability. Therefore, identifying appropriate technologies for a given company represents a timely and valuable enterprise. To this end, this paper provides detailed descriptions concerning what executive information systems and digital dashboards are, how they work, and how they provide value to today’s business organizations by providing two examples of each. A summary of the research and important findings concerning these executive management tools is provided in the conclusion.

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Review and Discussion

Executive Information Systems.

Definition. According to Thierauf and Hoctor (2003), executive information systems (hereinafter alternatively “EIS”) can be defined as “systems for business that can turn selected information, knowledge, and intelligence into optimized solutions for decision makers to solve problems and explore new opportunities” (p. 17).

How Executive Information Systems and Digital Dashboards Work. Executive information systems work by providing a “snapshot” analysis of business processes and functions at a given point in time (Desouza). Like the digital dashboards which are a subset of EISs and which are discussed further below, executive information typically provide “dashboard” displays of data for executives who need to review various metrics of their company’s performance (Desouza). According to Abel (2008), “Digital Dashboards provide users with one single interface through which they can view information from a variety of sources that have been chosen specifically for that user” (p. 4).

How Executive Information Systems and Digital Dashboards Can Add Value. In some cases, executive information systems will only have limited application because they are mostly static in nature (Desouza). Although EISs can provide executives with an overall picture, they have limited functionality for diagnostic purposes (Desouza). According to one authority, “Generation of accounting statements such as profit-and-loss statements and balance sheets are to a large extent akin to executive information systems. They provide investors with a snapshot view of a business’s state but have low analytical or decision-making value” (Desouza, 2002, p. 37). Therefore, the potential value added by the use of executive information systems relates to how these tools are used. As Thierauf and Hoctor (2003) emphasizes, executive business systems “enable decision makers to access data, information, and knowledge in ways they never could before to obtain a better understanding in order to optimize a company’s operations. This simple fact is the main thrust behind the growing popularity of smart technology” (p. 16). Likewise, Thierauf (2001) suggests that EISs provide executives with the types of information they need when they need it: “For the most part, these systems are helpful in making comparisons, analyzing trends and patterns in business, and presenting historical and current information to decision makers. Essentially, these systems assist decision makers in making better informed decisions that affect all aspects of a company’s operations” (p. 4). Furthermore, digital dashboards in particular are capable of providing executives with customizable displays for reporting data from the managers at all levels of the organization to allow them to manage the organization in more effective ways (Glenn, Panitch, Barnes-Proby, Williams, Christian, Lewis, Gerwehr & Brannan, 2003). According to Abel, “Digital dashboards are customized to allow you to access personal files, e-mail, company databases, Web sites, and more — all in one place. A digital dashboard offers the user more than a Web portal offers” (p. 5). Although Web portals also provide executives with the ability to aggregate large amounts of data from various sources, there is still the issue of sorting out all of this information in meaningful ways. Indeed, many executives are faced with so much information that it is comparable to trying to sip from a fire hose. In contrast to Web portals, digital dashboards “is a personalized portal that provides consolidated information for an individual user” (Abel, p. 6). Finally, digital dashboards also provide executives with the ability to view the information offline, thereby adding portability to the EIS approach (Abel).

Examples of Executive Information Systems and Digital Dashboards. One of the more popular EISs in use today is SAS, described by one of its vendors as “the market leader in providing a new generation of business intelligence software and services that create true enterprise intelligence. SAS is the only vendor that completely integrates leading data warehousing, analytics and traditional BI applications to create intelligence from massive amounts of data” (SAS, 2008, p. 3). Another EIS being offered for a wide range of applications today is Lilly Software’s Executive Information System (EIS) software. The company’s promotional literature states that this application “provides you with a powerful, yet simple tool that allows you to view and analyze key factors and performance trends in the areas of sales, purchasing, production, and finance” (Lilly Software, 2008, p. 2). According to its vendor, this EIS provides executives with the types of information displays characteristic of this approach as well as some fine-tuning features that can be used to identify problem areas before they become unmanageable; this applications is also Windows compatible, making it easy to launch in most offices today (Lilly Software). Likewise, many digital dashboards are Windows-compatible or supported (being based on Microsoft Office 2000), including Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) and Dynamic HTML (DHTML) (Abel, 2008).


The research showed that EIS and digital dashboards are computer- and Internet-based applications that can help executives better manage the flood of information that they receive on a regular basis. The research also showed that executive information systems and digital dashboards are like any management tool in that their value relates to the individual’s ability to use these tools appropriately. Top-level managers who are “spreadsheet junkies” will likely embrace these technologies in major ways, identifying new ways to use their information displays to make more timely and informed decisions. By contrast, executives who are already uncomfortable with computers (e.g., “cyberphobia”) or who prefer a more hands-on management approach may not realize this level of value from these systems.


Abel, T. (2008). Microsoft Office 2000: Create dynamic digital dashboards using Office, OLAP, and DHTML. Microsoft Corporation. [Online]. Available:

Desouza, K.C. (2002). Managing knowledge with artificial intelligence: An introduction with guidelines for nonspecialists. Westport, CT: Quorum Books.

Glenn, R.W., Panitch, B.R., Barnes-Proby, D., Williams, E., Christian, J., Lewis, M.W., Gerwehr, S. & Brannan, D.W. (2003). Training the 21st century police officer: Redefining police professionalism for the Los Angeles Police Department. Santa Monica, CA: Rand.

Lilly Software. (2008). Infor Global Solutions, Inc. [Online]. Available: system.asp.

SAS. (2008). Executive Information Systems, Inc. [Online]. Available:

Thierauf, R.J. & Hoctor, J.J. (2003). Smart business systems for the optimized organization. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Thierauf, R.J. (2001). Effective business intelligence systems. Westport, CT: Quorum Books.

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