Technology makes information available to decision makers, helping to improve the quality and speed of decision making. Technology also makes it easier for people to collaborate so they can execute joint business decisions. Organizations use communication technology to update employees on business decisions and ensure the right people implement those decisions.
Individuals or groups who make business decisions need rapid access to information to formulate and justify their decisions. Information can include historical corporate data, customer records, market trends, financial data and competitor profiles. This information may reside in varying databases within an organization, however, making it difficult for decision makers to get a complete picture. Investing in a networked data management system enables organizations to store data in central locations that decision makers can access via a secure network.
Technology can also improve the collection of information needed for business decisions. Providing network links between a central database and local retail outlets, for example, enables organizations to collect the latest sales data and make decisions based on up-to-date information. Similarly, members of a supply chain can collect and share market and production data to make more accurate decisions about production and stock levels.
Data alone cannot improve business decisions. According to Strategic Consultancy DSS Resources, data management must reflect decision-making processes. Many information technology (IT) departments believe that their responsibility is just to deliver large quantities of data to the decision maker’s desktop. Raw data, however, is unlikely to reflect the decision makers’ needs, creating a disconnect between IT and business.
The decision-making process consists of a number of stages including decision preparation, decision structuring, decision making, and decision management. Data requirements are different at each stage, so large volumes of raw data are unnecessary. Business intelligence software tools are available that allow users to select, analyze and manipulate data into the form they need at different stages of the process.
In many organizations, decision making is a group process, particularly for a project such as new product development. Technology supports decision making in a group environment by allowing all members to access essential data via a network. Groups can also use collaboration tools such as audio or video conferencing to conduct meetings between members in different locations as a way to speed up decision making.