from DSSResources.com

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                         DSS News 
                    D. J. Power, Editor 
               June 20, 2004 -- Vol. 5, No. 13
         A Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM 

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        Check the article by Kenneth Crow "Improving
        Time-to-Market Through Planning and Resource 
             Management" at PlanningSkills.COM

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Featured: 
* Dan Power's Report from CBUC and DBUAI
* DSS News Releases

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Report from CBUC and DBUAI
by Dan Power

My conference schedule of the past 10 days demonstrates the breadth of 
the Decision Support Systems product and implementation realm. On 
Thursday, June 10, 2004, I attended and spoke at the Database Users 
Association of Iowa (DBUAI) Training Day (DBUAI.org) in Des Moines, 
Iowa. On Thursday and Friday, June 17-18, 2004, I attended the 2004 
Crystal Ball User Conference (Decisioneering.com) at the Marriott Denver 
City Center, Denver, Colorado. Both CBUC and DBUAI had about 140 
attendees; CBUC was a focused international event with participants 
primarily from the US, and about 15 participants from Japan, Korea, 
Germany, the Netherlands, and UK. DBUAI was a focused regional event 
with participants primarily from Iowa and especially Des Moines. DBUAI 
was a vendor neutral, but vendor financed event with 16 vendors in 
attendance including Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle. CBUC was financed by 
attendee registration fees and partially subsidized by Decisioneering, 
the vendor of Crystal Ball.

Both of these conferences showcase diverse aspects of the broad 
knowledge base needed by generalists and specialists interested in DSS. 
DBUAI focused on database administration, data modeling, data 
architecture, data warehousing, and database programming and 
development. CBUC focused on a specific software development 
environment, Crystal Ball, that helps a developer add simulation, 
optimization, forecasting and real options models to a spreadsheet-based 
DSS or to use the tools in a special purpose decision analysis. Crystal 
Ball is an Excel add in package. In the next few paragraphs, I'll 
highlight the comings and goings as I observed them beginning with the 
Crystal Ball User Conference that is fresh in my memory and ending with 
last week's DBUAI Training Day.

Highlights from CBUC

Getting from Cedar Falls, IA to Denver, Colorado and back involved 
traveling the "old fashioned" way on the California Zephyr train.  
Except for a long delay on the return trip, the ride was comfortable and 
it enhanced the adventure.  I arrived in Denver Wednesday morning and 
checked in at the Marriott.  Denver was unseasonably cold and rainy, but 
I walked to the Denver Mint hoping for a tour.  Some of you know my 
hobby is coin and stamp collecting.  Tours however require a special 
request 3 weeks in advance from a U.S. Representative or Senator on your 
behalf.  So no go!  Visiting the Denver Mint was really my only 
disappointment of the trip. Crystal Ball User Conference was a wonderful 
conference.

Wednesday evening, June 16, Decisioneering hosted a reception for 
attendees.  While enjoying the food and drink, I had a chance to meet 
Larry Goldman, my email friend at Decisioneering, and the program chair 
for the conference.  Larry is a high energy, upbeat guy, and a great 
host. Jim Franklin, CEO of Decisioneering, was also chatting with 
attendees at the reception.  I primarily sat on the sidelines chatting 
with 2 Master Six Sigma Blackbelts, Andrew Ganti of GE Healthcare and 
Fred Ciochetto of Decisioneering.  Andrew and Fred tried to help me 
understand how Crystal Ball simulation and optimization could assist in 
Six Sigma decision analyses.  Thanks guys.

Thursday morning the conference kicked off with a keynote by my 
colleague and friend Paul Nutt.  Dr. Paul Nutt is a Professor in the 
Fisher College of Business at the Ohio State University and the author 
of "Why Decisions Fail" (2002). Paul is admittedly a low tech guy, but 
he caught the attention of the group with his interesting comments on 
decision and planning debacles at companies like Shell, Quaker Oats, and 
EuroDisney. Paul focuses his research on decisions involving 
uncertainty, ambiguity and conflict and during the presentation he 
discussed seven blunders and traps that everyone involved in supporting 
decision making needs to be able to recognize.  Check his book for 
details! 

Following Paul's presentation, I primarily followed the modeling 
techniques and technical track at the conference.  The other 2 tracks 
focused on business and engineering applications. At 10am Hilary Emmett 
of the Decisioneering UK office gave a quick overview of Crystal Ball 
developer kits and VBA. I'm a spectator Crystal Ball developer so her 
talk was a good refresher. At 11am I did attend a business application 
session.  Michael Stratton, of the Boeing Company, discussed how Boeing 
uses Crystal Ball to develop the business case for multi-million dollar 
projects. Boeing's systematic business case documentation helps the 
decision advisory board discuss diverse projects. At 11:45am, I attended 
a presentation by Dr. Frank Mosely, North Dakota University, on a "top 
down" approach to using Crystal Ball for evaluating oil and gas property 
investments. Paul discussed using stochastic analysis to manage a 
portfolio of petroleum assets and reduce unique and hence unsystematic 
risk.

Following lunch, I listened to Dr. Johnathan Mun's presentation on Real 
Options Analysis.  Johnathan spoke from 1:30 to 3pm but given the 
complexity of the topic, I really need to attend his 2 day training 
program.  He is a great presenter and very knowledgeable about the 
importance of options and the use of the Crystal Ball Real Options 
Analysis Toolkit (ROAT). His presentation emphasized quantifying 
uncertainty to help manage risk and optimize portfolios and allocate 
assets. Johnathan argues options are all about making mid-course 
corrections when needed. He has been working with Decisioneering for the 
past few years, but he has a long track record with real options 
analysis. 

Thursday was jam packed with seven session slots plus the key note. My 
day of presentations ended with Fred Ciochetta's talk on Optimization 
and Six Sigma. I then visited Decisioneering's 13th Floor office. The 
modern offices (renovated last summer) were impressive.  Decisioneering 
has a total of about 50 staffers. I briefly met co-founders Eric 
Weissman and Eric Wainwright.  The "Erics" remain involved with 
Decisioneering.  Weissman is the Chairman of the Board and Wainwright is 
the Chief Technology Officer (CTO). 

Thursday evening was both a dinner and Monte Carlo Gaming night. Paul 
Nutt and I chatted over dinner and then while we played Caribbean stud 
poker. At the end of the evening, we converted our chips to raffle 
tickets, but alas no luck in winning the prizes. 

Friday morning started with a keynote by Jim Franklin, CEO of 
Decisioneering. Larry Goldman introduced Jim and joked that Jim was a 
"talker".  Jim gave a great overview of Decisioneering and of future 
directions and he finished with about 2 minutes left on the clock. 
Decisioneering was founded in 1986 as Market Engineering Corp. and 
restarted as Decisioneering in 1994.  The firm has experienced 10X 
growth in the past 5 years and Jim has a similar growth % target for 
2010.

Friday was once again packed with interesting sessions (an agenda is 
online at Decisineering http://www.decisioneering.com/cbuc/ ). At 9am I 
attended Terence Condon's presentation on using stochastic analysis in 
financial planning.  Terry is the Director of Planning Services for Bank 
of America, Fleet Private Clients Group.  According to Terry, 
"stochastic is fantastic".  The presentation focused on using a 
model-driven DSS with stochastic analysis for financial planning. Terry 
noted that the stochastic analysis provides a confidence analysis.  
Clients can decide how confident they want to be in meeting their 
financial goals.

At 9:45am I attended Herve Thirez's presentation on professional 
spreadsheet-based operations research model development. Herve is with 
Groupe HEC and he is both entertaining and very knowledgeable.  I 
learned a few tricks.  Herve presented interesting simulation decision 
analysis examples using animation and I especially liked the 
demonstration of an innovative, knowledge-driven DSS he built using 
Excel.

Starting at 10:45am until 12:15pm, I attended Jim Kelly and Jay April's  
"Optimization Workshop".  Jim is CEO of OptTek the makers of OptQuest. 
Jim gave an outstanding presentation. His focus was on combining 
simulation and optimization in decision analysis. OptTek is a small 
company based in Boulder, Colorado that has changed the way optimization 
is conducted.  Dr. Fred Glover (CU), the meta heuristic optimization 
guru, co-founded OptTek Systems with Jim Kelly and Manuel Laguna in 
1992.  Jim left the University of Colorado (CU) a few years ago to work 
full-time as CEO. According to Glover, a "metaheuristic refers to a 
master strategy that guides and modifies other heuristics to produce 
solutions beyond those that are normally generated in a quest for local 
optimality". For more information check http://opttek.com/ .

Friday at lunch, I sat next to Daniel Fylstra, CEO and owner of 
Frontline Systems. Dan was a PC industry pioneer and a key player in the 
development and marketing of VisiCalc, the first PC-based spreadsheet. I 
had chatted briefly with Dan and Jim Franklin on Thursday afternoon, but 
it was very interesting to broadly discuss developments in the 
Information Systems world with him.  Dan is a savvy observer and he 
plays his cards close to the belt.  He didn't want to share too much 
about Frontline Systems (check http://solver.com), but I enjoyed our 
conversation.  Frontline Systems is the premier Solver or Optimization 
company.  Every copy of Microsoft Excel is bundled with a version of 
Frontline System's Solver add in. We discussed model-driven DSS and 
"Business Intelligence".  Dan indicated he had attended a Data 
Warehousing Institute (TDWI) conference. Dan has a broad range of 
interests and we also discussed the Basel II Bank Capitalization Accord. 
 I'm exploring how DSS can help in the implementation of Basel II and so 
I pumped Dan for his thoughts. The day before I had asked Johnathan Mun 
for his opinions on implementing Basel II.  Readers may see a future Ask 
Dan! in DSS News on this topic.

At 1pm, we all had a sneak preview of Crystal Ball 7. This was the 
worldwide debut. What did I conclude? The development environment is 
enhanced and more powerful for special studies and for building 
model-driven DSS. The tool is very visual with new 3D charts that can be 
rotated.  I counted at least 7 major enhancements.  The developer still 
needs to formulate the model, then Crystal Ball 7 makes it much easier 
to get information about the model into the workbook.  Analysis is much 
easier to conduct and new features help share the analysis.

My last session of the conference was a double session on "Pushing the 
envelope in forecasting using CB Predictor" by John McKensie, the 
Decisioneering CB Predictor expert.  CB Predictor is the most difficult 
tool in the CB suite to learn and to use. McKenzie did a good job of 
discussing the how and why of CB Predictor. Both Times Series and 
Regression Analysis can benefit from adding stochastic analysis.

Overall CBUC had approximately 35 sessions.  Because of some "double 
sessions" I was only able to attend 12 sessions. I picked those that 
interested me most, but I wish I could have attended them all.  That's a 
sign of a great conference.  Decisioneering is planning another user 
conference for next summer.  If you build model-drive DSS, plan to 
attend. Thanks Larry, Jim et al. 

Highlights from DBUAI

Database Users Association of Iowa (DBUAI) Training Day was a less 
formal one day event. I traveled to Des Moines on Wednesday, June 9, 
spent the night in a hotel, and then drove to the Polk County Convention 
Center for an 8am Thursday morning kickoff. Dan Hotka, the program 
chair, gave the welcome. Dan is an Oracle Training Specialist 
(http://home.earthlink.net/~dhotka/). DBUAI Training Day is free to 
DBUAI members and the public and it provides a forum for technology 
vendors and local companies to showcase their products, services and 
accomplishments. Approximately 16 vendor booths and displays were setup 
for attendees. David Thamke, Principal Financial Group, is the current 
President of DBUAI.

The first session I attend at 8:15 am was by Tobi Siegel of Computer 
Associates on data modeling cross-tool integration using Erwin.  Erwin 
is such a powerful tool and Toby did a good job of discussing 
integration issues.  She kept the vendor hype to a minimum. At 9:30 am I 
attended a session on migrating Oracle forms to J2EE.  Amitabh Arora, 
Churchill Group, made the presentation.  Migration is a real problem and 
Arora and his company have a niche solution.

Starting at 10:45am SQL Server was the focus of my attention.  Cheryl 
Stepney of Microsoft was the presenter.  In the session, Cheryl reviewed 
the history of SQL server and planned enhancements.  After the 
presentation, Cheryl volunteered to show me the new features in 
Microsoft SQLServer 2000 Enterprise Edition.  The capabilities for 
building data-driven DSS are much improved.  The new reporting services 
are especially impressive.  The package even helps a developer create a 
dashboard of key performance metrics. 

I had a quick lunch and at 1pm I turned my attention from Microsoft to 
IBM DB2.  Jeff Bradley, a knowledgeable IBM sales guy, showcased the IBM 
DB2 Universal Database Data Warehouse edition. IBM bills the product as 
the foundation for realtime decision-making. The database is "OLAP 
aware".  Basically pre-processing is used to improve query performance. 
Jeff was still pitching data mining, but he also discussed data 
warehouse templates.  Apparently templates have fallen out of favor at 
IBM, but Jeff discussed briefly a Business Intelligence template to 
support reporting for Basel II.  Apparently IBM is ramping up to support 
banks with data warehouses as they try to meet the Basel II internal and 
external reporting requirements. 

At 2:30pm I gave my presentation titled "What's IT all about? Supporting 
Decision Makers." My talk reviewed the five basic types of DSS, but my 
focus was on Data-driven DSS.  This was primarily an audience of 
database administrators and I urged them to take a larger role in 
building DSS, especially data-driven DSS. The realm for IT professionals 
is more than infrastructure and transaction processing.  This talk was 
about DSS basics and the importance of DSS to IT and the role of IT 
professionals in building DSS. DBUAI had 19 sessions and most of the 
time four sessions were scheduled concurrently.  I had an audience of 
about 20 and they seemed to resonate with my message.  At 3:40pm,  I was 
a lucky winner of a door prize from Computer Associates. Thanks. By 7pm 
I was home in Cedar Falls, IA.

Well it has been a busy 10 days.  My next trip is to the University of 
Florida and NSF supported Summer 2004 faculty workshops "Teaching 
Decision Support Systems Development" in Jacksonville, FL August 1 - 7, 
2004.  I'll make 2 presentations at the workshops. For details check 
http://www.ise.ufl.edu/dss/ . Then I'll travel to AMCIS 2004 that starts 
in New York City on Friday, August 6, 2004. SIGDSS will have a business 
meeting Friday evening and I'll present a paper on the history of DSS. 
For more information about AMCIS 2004 check 
http://howe.stevens.edu/amcis2004/ . If you are at AMCIS 2004 or at the 
summer workshops please say hello and share your feedback.

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Please note that the University of Northern Iowa funded Dan Power's 
participation in the DBUAI Training Day and that Decisioneering provided 
Dan Power with a complementary registration to attend CBUC.  
DSSResources.COM payed for transportation, hotels, etc. for Dan Power to 
attend CBUC.

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DSS News - June 7 to June 20, 2004
Read them at DSSResources.COM and search the DSS News Archive

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06/14/2004 Call for Chapters: Book on Intelligent Decision-Making 
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06/13/2004 RiskWatch rolls out new supply chain security software at 
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06/11/2004 Call for Proposals: Second annual workshop on web enabled 
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06/10/2004 Geac recognizes customer innovation at annual user 
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06/09/2004 Cognos and TIES deliver performance management solutions to 
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06/09/2004 Fidelity Investments announces "Fidelity Retirement Income 
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06/08/2004 Blue Agave's active performance management 2.0 drives 
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06/08/2004 Connotate Agent Suite uses machine intelligence to harness 
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06/08/2004 Corning Credit Union adopts Adobe Intelligent Document 
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06/08/2004 Adobe announces new document services to accelerate and help 
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06/08/2004 Cognos extends industry-leading enterprise business 
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06/07/2004 Fair Isaac enhances Model Builder for Predictive Analytics 
with new features for model development and deployment.

06/07/2004 Fair Isaac improves Blaze Advisor rules management with new 
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06/07/2004 TruSecure introduces Risk Commander 2.0.

06/07/2004 G8 Summit deploys Tablet PCs, advanced software to assist 
dialogue among world leaders.

06/07/2004 Speedware and CORE Migration partner to offer complete 
migration solutions to .NET and Java for Cognos PowerHouse Users.

06/07/2004 New Global Banking Survey by Mercer Oliver Wyman finds 
industry making significant progress in operational risk management for 
Basel II.

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