It's not enough for Dick Loehr to be an Information Master. He's made it possible for everyone else in his company to master information, too.
Loehr, a director of Ernst & Young's Center for Business Knowledge (CBK) in Cleveland, has developed "PowerPacks" of customized information on urgent topics. Each PowerPack is periodically updated over a live, corporatewide electronic network. They're easy to use, they're personal, and they're portable.
The Proto PowerPack
Loehr organized groups of 6 to 12 partners who specialized in a certain field, such as the insurance industry. They distilled the company's own data (such as regulations and standards, marketing information, resumes of company experts, and news about hot topics) into a set of online tutorial materials that could be accessed by any employee. The PowerPacks were then edited to take less than 50 MB of storage space, so employees can download them onto their laptop computers.
PowerPack at Work
Last year more than 30 partners in distant EY offices took two months to develop a PowerPack on the auto industry. Soon after, Loehr recalls, an EY partner got a call from an automotive supplier in France. The client wanted to know what it should do to adapt to some of the emerging changes in the industry, such as supply-chain management.
The partner flew to France on a Sunday. The next day, he used his PowerPack to create an entire presentation in just three hours. The following morning, he wowed the client.
"If he had been in that situation three years ago," Loehr says, "he wouldn't even have had access to the data."
CBK sees to it that PowerPacks for EY's 25,000 employees are kept up to date. Interns regularly sweep the Internet and bookmark relevant sites for review by the core PowerPack team. Revisions approved by the team are then distributed on EY's global network. When an employee dials in for an update, the new information is automatically downloaded into the desktop computer's PowerPack.
"It sounds sexy," Loehr says, "but it's just a real-time electronic filing cabinet. It's powerful, but it's painless to use."
Coordinates: Dick Loehr, firstname.lastname@example.org
A version of this article appeared in the August/September 1997 issue of Fast Company magazine.