How to leverage information to improve business performance in a financial services company

Kubheka, Noxolo Siphelele Pumla (2007-03)

Thesis (MPhil (Information Science))--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.


Introduction Information is increasingly attaining an unprecedented importance in companies and becoming the basis of competitive advantage. At Absa this has meant a significant shift in the way information is viewed, to such an extent that Management Information (MI) has been identified as one of the Key Strategic Priorities and Enabler of Absa Group Strategy. Based on the value being placed on management information, the Information Management Division has been tasked to explicitly articulate and define the role information will play in the design and execution of Absa’s competitive strategies. At Absa the notion of integrating information into its strategy and planning process has barely been supported. Given the three components that have been identified as critical to creating value through MI, (access to relevant information; insight - rigorous analysis of information in support of key decisions and application of MI), a gap has been identified in terms of the second component, namely, the provision of business insight: a component critical to the integration of information into business strategies and processes. Hence the focus of this research project falls on building-in a business insight capability as a key component in enabling efficient and effective use of management information and improved business performance. Research Method The research project was based on a qualitative case study performed at Absa, where qualitative methods of collecting data were used. Data gathering was carried out in the form of interviews with key information users, whereby complete representation of Absa business units was ensured. Main findings The analysis of the findings suggests that the majority of survey participants know of poor decisions having been made within their organisation because of one of the following reasons: 􀂃 Inadequate integration and aggregation of information from disparate sources; 􀂃 Inefficient access to relevant, accurate and timely information; 􀂃 Inconsistent approach to obtaining business insight as well as cost-effective delivery based on sound governance. As a result, the majority of executives make most of their decisions based on gut-feel rather than on more reliable empirical information. Recommendations From the results discussed in the empirical study, we have articulated several suggestions regarding how Absa can improve its business through effective and efficient utilization of information. The company will have to work on improving its management information process and enablers by focusing on information technology practices, information management practices, as well as the behaviours and values of its staff regarding information. In addition to this, to work on elements discussed in the empirical study as of key importance to the development and implementation of the necessary business insight capability.

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