Preparing senior managers for ‘information age’

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  • book reviews

    CIM seen as evolutionary process Computer Integrated Manufacturing Handbook. Edited by Eric Teicholz and Joel N. Orr. Published by McGraw- Hill. 444pp. 59.95. The preface to the book states

    There is no single best approach to CIM; you must work out your own path.

    Later in a contribution Leonid Lipchin writes

    ...it is essential, or even vital, to analyze the possible significant management and financial implications of turning a company from a mature conventional operation mode to an 'embryonic CIM environment' and how this process may (or may not) contribute to the company's competi- tive business improvement.

    Those in the most senior positions in manufacturing industry who have to make such major decisions must view

    CIM with scepticism if not apprehen- sion. If they choose to implement CIM they are creating a manufacturing environment that is totally new: an 'embryonic CIM environment'. There are no models. There is no, or little, experience. There is the attendant risk. But is it totally a step in the dark? There is a wealth of information from the most advanced manufacturing companies, research associations, uni- versities, major government spon- sored projects at national and inter- national levels etc., the thrust of which is towards CIM. The development of technologies is providing tools on which CIM is dependent. Recently, attention has been focused on the strategic approaches that might be made and on creating an effective infrastructure in an enterprise that can take advantage of these technologies.

    As far as the future is concerned the best we can do is make intelligent guesses, to try extrapolating from our experiences to create the most likely scenarios. CIM is a natural evo- lutionary process for which a rationale is being developed. It is not a revolution.

    This book reinforces many of these ideas and provides a valuable source of reference material both in the text and in extensive bibliographies. The last two sections 'Planning for CIM' and 'Implementation and Manage- ment' are particularly significant. The book must have widespread appeal but is unfortunately priced out of the range of most students.

    G W SMITH Brunel University

    Preparing senior managers for 'information age' Managing Information as a Corporate Resource by Paul L Tom. Pub- lished by Scott Foresman & Company, Glenview, IL, USA. 322pp. 14.95. There is no reference in this book to CIM or indeed to manufacture. How- ever, it will be of interest to those involved in CIM, in particular those concerned with CIM strategy and CIM within business strategy. This is a book for senior managers, seeking to come to terms with the implications of the 'information age'. The 'computer age' has given way to the 'information age'. Information is a principal resource in business and industry, and hence executives must learn to deploy and to manage this resource. Paul L Tom sets out to provide the rhetoric and per- suasion to convert executives to this task, and the information to do the job.

    The current decade is seen as provid- ing disillusionment (communication

    barriers, applications backlogs, etc.). This, according to Tom, will give rise to a period of motivation in the 1990s followed, at the turn of the century, by the arrival of the era of knowledge and dependency. At that stage, the informa- tion age will have arrived, and man- agers will have come to terms with it. To cope with this age, senior managers will become 'information executives', capable of planning, acting as catalysts for change, and operating as informa- tion consultants, fully competent in and adjusted to the management of the invisible resource.

    The author devotes 11 chapters to his campaign to persuade and equip senior managers for this future.

    Elsewhere, Tom deals with strategic planning issues and human and organi- zational issues. Each chapter begins with a briefcase study, and 50% end in the same way. Whilst discussion ques- tions are provided at the end of most

    chapters, there is little attempt, other wise, to provide student oriented material e.g. detailed references, etc.

    Clearly, the whole is aimed at the manager rather than the student. For such people it offers an attractive, clear and concise package, at a re- markably competitive price. No cor- porate book shelf should be without one, and at a price of14.95 there is no reason why the manager should not provide him/herself with access to some valuable information on the topic which is most likely to be most important for most people, but most feared by many of them.

    For the CIM professionals, the book has little to offer but such people should be advocating it to others within their organizations.

    RAY WILD Brunel University

    124 Computer-Integrated Manufacturing Systems

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