from DSSResources.com

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                        DSS News
                  D. J. Power, Editor
          October 8, 2006 -- Vol. 7, No. 21

   A Free Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM 
          approximately 1,800 Subscribers 

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        Check the DSS Thought Leader interview with 
         James Taylor "Automating Decision Making"
                  at DSSResources.com

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 Featured:

* AIS SIGDSS Best Paper 2005 Awards
* Ask Dan: What is the "answer" to my DSS question?
* What's New at DSSResources.COM
* DSS Conferences
* DSS News Releases 

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 "Decision Support for Global Enterprises" Conference
           Jan. 2-4, 2007, Calcutta, India
                Check ICDSS2007.org

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Association for Information Systems SIGDSS Best Paper 2005 Awards: 

The best academic DSS article for 2005 was:

Holsapple, C. W. and M. P. Sena, "ERP plans and decision-support 
benefits", Decision Support Systems, 38 (4), January 2005, 575-590.

2 Honorable mention articles:

Arnott, D., and G. Pervan, "A critical analysis of decision 
support systems research", Journal of Information Technology, 20 
(2), 2005, 67-87.

Taylor, H., "A Critical Decision Interview Approach To Capturing 
Tacit Knowledge: Principles And Application", International Journal 
of Knowledge Management, 1 (3), 2005, 25-39.

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Ask Dan!

What is the "answer" to my DSS question?

by Daniel J. Power
Editor, DSSResources.COM

Currently, I have a backlog of more than 75 questions that have been
emailed to Ask Dan! since September 21, 2005. Usually I send a quick
followup to Ask Dan! emails and then use the broader questions as the
starting point for a column. This column discusses some of the "short
answer" questions. I'm going to address questions in a chronolgical
order. 

Q: I received the following email from Regina on September 21, 2005.
Regina writes: "Are decision markets a useful decision support tool?"
A: The short answer is YES, decision markets can be useful decision
support tools in the right circumstances and for an appropriate task.
Please check the DSS FAQ for more details. Follow the Ask Dan! FAQ
link in the top panel menu on the DSSResources.com homepage. There
are more than 100 frequently asked questions like this one answered
in the Ask Dan! content management system. I answered this question
in DSS News, Vol. 4, No. 16, August 3, 2003. All of the DSS
Newsletters are also archived at DSSResources.com. 

Q: Roziana asks: "What is the difference between decision support
system agents and decision support system technologies?"
A: A DSS agent is an example of a very specialized DSS technology.
Using Artificial Intelligence programming, an autonomous agent
application is created as part of a broader DSS (often a data-driven
DSS). A manager or staff person "programs" the agent to act on
his/her behalf and send alerts or even take actions to execute
instructions. Most DSS agents are task-specific tools. Perhaps at
some point I'll have time to explore this issue more completely.

Q: Beverly wondered: "What are the types of DSS? and How does one
develop a DSS?"
A: Please read the Ask Dan! "What is the expanded DSS framework?" and
check Ch. 4 in the DSS hyperbook.

Q: RM writes: "I'm doing my thesis right now entitled 'Family
Planning Methods: An Online Decision Support System'. I'd like to ask
what System Development model is most appropriate to my study? Is it a
spiral incremental design approach?"
A: My experience is that web-based DSS are usually best developed
using an incremental design or rapid prototyping approach. The spiral
design model specifies incremental development. The developer
"iterates through the cycle, starting with the ideas, design, then
the coding and testing." Unlike the "Waterfall" aka Systems
Development Life Cycle model, a spiral or incremental approach allows
the high level design to change and evolve during development.

Q: Sari asks: "Dear Dan, Has the article of A. Gachet concerning a
new framework of DSS been discussed on your web site? The citation is
Gachet, A., "Software Frameworks for Developing Decision Support
Systems - A New Component in the Classification of DSS Development
Tools", Journal of Decision Systems, 12(3/4), 2004, pp. 271-281."
A: Alexandre is a friend and I recommend that colleagues read the
article. Perhaps in some future column I'll discuss Ralph Sprague's
framework and Alexandre's critique in the context of developing DSS.
Each year more that 100 academic articles are published relevant to
DSS and hundreds of popular press articles. I can't comment on them
all. 

Q: Jovielyn wonders: "What are the DSS software tools? Briefly
describe each tool's function and give examples of who might use the
product."
A: I assume you are curious about DSS development tools from various
vendors. I recommend that you follow the links in the Vendor
Directory. The directory lists 59 vendors of DSS related products.
Some of the vendors focus on hardware or consulting, but most are DSS
software vendors. Some vendors sell multiple products and most have
product information on their web sites.

Q: Vim's email reads: "What's a group support system?"
A: The first group support system was built by Doug Engelbart at SRI
in the late 1960s. The term is a broad label for a wide variety of
technologies that are used to support people in synchronous
interacting groups or in asynchronous groups. Other related terms
include group decision support system (GDSS) and groupware. Check Ask
Dan! "What is a Group Decision Support System (GDSS)? How do GDSS
work?"

Q: Carol asks: "Can project management be considered a form of DSS?"
A: Project management software is an example of a DSS generator for
creating a specific model-driven DSS for use in managing a project.

Q: Norma wonders: "Are DSS stand alone systems? Are such systems less
flexible?"
A: Until the advent of the Web and Internet, many model-driven and
knowledge-driven DSS in particular were stand alone personal
computer-based systems. Such systems are less flexible and are harder
to deploy and maintain. Today many of those legacy systems can be
implemented as web-based DSS.

Q: Deniz writes: "Dear Dan, please guide me in trying to find which
problem properties suggest the use of a rule-based system,
model-based system, case-based system using Dempster Shafer theory
and fuzzy values. I was trying to understand Dempster Shafer theory
better and I thought of coming up with an example. I thought if
directors of a company where to find out if the employees are coming
late to work then apply this. But I had troubles implementing the
theory. Please advise me further. I would really appreciate further
advice and guidance. Best Regards."
A: Hi Denis. I don't like the example you chose. I would suggest
problems where managers have difficulty expressing their opinions
quantitatively. 

Q: Abdullah states: "I am an SAP consultant and our company is
planning on implementing SAP in a power utility provider. The only
utility that SAP offers that has anything to do with decision making
is SAP Analytics. My question is... 'Would it be a good idea to
propose SAP Analytics for a DSS?' and 'Is it going to serve the
purpose of a DSS ?' Thanks."
A: I am not an expert on SAP Analytics. If the company is using SAP
for ERP and managers want a simple data-driven DSS, I would explore
SAP Analytics first and then move on to other products if SAP
Analytics couldn't provide the required functionality. Find out what
analytics managers need and want.

Q: Pera asks: "Dear Mr. Dan, Do you know where I can download some
free or free to try expert system shell software for building expert
systems. It must be for Windows platform, something like VP Expert
(Rule Based expert system). VP Expert is for the DOS Operating
Syistem. Thanks and best regards."
A: I would check Exsys.com. You can download a free 30-day Exsys
CORVID software trial package.

Q: Amit requests information on "decision support systems for supply
chain management."
A: Systems for forecasting and replenishment used by companies like
Wal-Mart are one example. Also, check the recent press releases at
DSSResources.com and visit vendors like JDA Software (jda.com). JDA
recently acquired Manugistics, a vendor of supply chain optimization
software.

Q: Nadeem writes: "Can you answer questions about GPSS? I have a
coding problem. Also, can you please suggest where I can find DSS
information about Hurricanes Katrina and Rita."
A: Global positioning systems can provide valuable information for
use in DSS, but I can't answer your questions or help with coding
problems. As far as predicting hurricanes, I would check NOAA/ U.S.
National Weather Service (www.nhc.noaa.gov).

Q: Emmanuel wonders: "How do DSS relate with food science?"
A: I'm not familiar with this application area. Please conduct a more
traditional literature review.

Q: Atumah asks: "What is the importance of DSS in urban planning?"
A: My guess is that Urban Planners primarily use computer support for
special studies and that there is little application of DSS. Managers
in large municipal governments use DSS for a wide variety of tasks.

Q: S. Swaminatahn requests: "What are the components of a DSS?"
A: In Ralph Sprague's framework (1980), the components are: dialogue,
database, models and DSS architecture. These components are used in my
expanded DSS framework to further classify systems as data-driven,
model-driven, knowledge-driven, document-driven and
communications-driven DSS.

Q: Arti asks: "Help me understand supporting decision making and
types of DSS."
A: Start by reading my article, Power, D. J. "Supporting
Decision-Makers: An Expanded Framework". World Wide Web,
http://dssresources.com/papers/supportingdm, version 1.0, December
15, 2000. 

Q: Jheanelle writes: "what are decision models?"
A: The term decision model refers to quantitative or heuristic models
used in model-driven or knowledge-driven DSS.

Q: Edmund states: "Recently I have been planning to develop a DSS to
assist in online purchasing of PC Hardware. May I have your ideas
about which type of DSS to use for this system. This system will
guide the user to select Pc Hardware."
A: I would begin by stating the requirements of the system and then
explore the possibility of building a web-based, knowledge-driven DSS
to support this task. Also, it may be possible to use a form with
options that a user would select. This solution would be more of an
order entry system than a DSS. Start with decision-oriented
diagnosis, what capability is needed? who will use it?, then work on
design.

Q: Nadia wonders: "What is the purpose of the DSS Research
Community?"
A: The DSS Research community is trying to create new knowledge,
share what we have learned and when possible improve the
effectiveness of decision making in organizations, within groups and
by individuals serving in many decision roles.

Q: Bernald writes: "Me podría explicar ampliamente los mayores
logros del DSS, porfavor Porque debo usar DSS? Si pudiera responder
antes del lunes, me ayudaría mucho."
A: DSS can enhance profits by improving performance monitoring,
speeding up decision making, increasing the quality of decisions,
improving cost estimates and forecasts. In general, I can't answer
questions that I receive quickly. If you are a manager with a quick
question, I provide phone consulting for an hourly fee. Because of
Google language tools, I can understand questions like this one from
Bernald. When possible, please submit questions in English.

Q: Nazarudin requests: "I want to know more about weighting methods.
Especially the pro and con analysis using weightings."
A: In my DECAID system and in PlanningDSS.com, the software elicits
pro and con arguments for each alternative action and then asks the
decision maker to weight the importance of each argument on a 1 to 10
scale where 10 is very important and 1 is unimportant. Then the
software adds and subtracts based on whether an argument is pro or
con and calculates the summed score for each alternative. Ben
Franklin recommended Pro/Con analysis in his autobiography 200 years
ago as a decision support tool. My software tries to help a decision
maker quantitatively "balance" the pros and cons for each
alternative.

Q: Karuna notes: "We are developing a DSS for project scheduling
using meta heuristics. Please provide the reference material
regarding this and previously built DSS in this context."
A: This is not my area of expertise. You should do a full scale
literature review using a journal article database.

Q: Graziella asks: "How are DSS used?"
A: The goal has been to have users like managers interact with a
specific DSS to analyze situations and help make decisions. So a
manger may run a query, examine performance metrics on a dashboard,
perform sensitivity analysis with a model-driven DSS or use a
knowledge-driven DSS to evaluate an unemployment claim.

Q: Khalid writes: "Respected Sir, we would like to order your book as
a disc copy, please advise us how to get the required copy. Your early
response is highly appreciated."
A: My DSS book published in 2002 by Quorum/Greenwood is not available
as an ebook or PDF. My 2005 DSS FAQ is available for download at
iUniverse.COM. The DSS hyperbook (2000) in the subscriber zone at
DSSResources.com contains most of the content that eventually was
published in Power (2002). The cost is only USD $10 for a 2 month
subscription to the subscriber zone.

Q: Geenie wonders: "How does a DSS help in environmental research and
management?"
A: I don't track that application area. Sorry I can't help. There are
many specialized application areas for DSS. I primarily focus on
Business Management applications.

Q: Anne asks: "My neighbor and long time friend has a small pastry
and candy business. She has about 5 stores in the area. She wants to
branch out in one big step. Go global on the Internet at first and
then perhaps have more real stores as well. Her business is
computerized and she has everything that she needs except a DSS. I
have tried to convince her she needs a DSS in order to take a step
that big to no avail. Please help! Give me something to wow her so
she doesn't fall on her face. Thanks in advance."
A: There is nothing that will WOW her. Tell her "Computerized
decision support should be considered when managers are in decision
situations characterized by one or more of the following factors:
complexity, uncertainty, multiple groups with a stake in the decision
outcome (multiple stakeholders), a large amount of information
(especially company data), and/or rapid change in information (Power,
2002)." Based upon what you have written, her operation is not large
enough for a sophisticated data-driven DSS. I would start with a
needs analysis and audit her current decision process for
opportunities to speed decision making or improve performance
monitoring.

Q: I'm running out of energy, so only one last email from Anastasia.
"Hello, I would like to congratulate you on the great work you are
doing with your website. I was wondering if you can give me any
directions where to look for DSS interface design material. The
Chapter 5 you have on the website is very helpful, but I need more
information. Can you help me out? Thank you for your time and your
efforts."
A: Thanks for the positive feedback. It makes writing Ask Dan!
worthwhile. I have been expanding the articles on innovative user
interfaces at DSSResources.com. Currently, you should check four
articles: 1) Alper, Brown and Wagner, 2) Kirtland, 3) Shneiderman and
4) Vasiliu. There is also an Ask Dan! "What DSS interface design is
'best' for eliciting values?" from DSS News, Vol. 4, No. 11, May 25,
2003.

Well, this Ask Dan! column briefly answered 29 questions that I have
received in my emails. I'm still backlogged, but this column may help
provide quick answers to a wide variety of questions. When in doubt
about DSS, check the DSS FAQ at DSSResources.com.

As always your comments, feedback and suggestions are welcomed.

References

Alper, C., K. Brown and G. R. Wagner, "New Software for Visualizing
the Past, Present and Future", DSSResources.COM, 09/23/2006.

Gachet, A., "Software Frameworks for Developing Decision Support
Systems - A New Component in the Classification of DSS Development
Tools", Journal of Decision Systems, 12(3/4), 2004, pp. 271-281.

Kirtland, A., "Executive Dashboards", DSSResources.COM, 01/20/2006.

Power, D. J., "Supporting Decision-Makers: An Expanded Framework",
World Wide Web, URL http://dssresources.com/papers/supportingdm,
version 1.0, December 15, 2000. 

Power, D. J., Decision Support Systems: Concepts and Resources for
Managers, Quorum Books/Greenwood Publishing, 2002.

Power, D. J., "What DSS interface design is 'best' for eliciting
values?", DSS News, Vol. 4, No. 11, May 25, 2003.

Power, D. J., "Are decision markets a useful decision support tool?",
DSS News, Vol. 4, No. 16, August 3, 2003.

Power, D. J., Decision Support Systems: Frequently Asked Questions,
iUniverse.COM, 2005.

Shneiderman, B., "Using Treemap Visualizations for Decision Support",
DSSResources.COM, 06/23/2006.

Vasiliu, A., "Dashboards and Scorecards: Linking Management Reporting
to Execution", DSSResources.COM, 04/30/2006.

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          Purchase Dan Power's DSS FAQ book 
  83 frequently asked questions about computerized DSS 
   http://dssresources.com/dssbookstore/power2005.html 

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What's New at DSSResources.COM

10/06/2006 Posted an interview with James Taylor "Automating Decision
Making". Check the interviews page.

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DSS Conferences 

1. Pre-ICIS 2006: SIG DSS Research workshop, Sunday, 
December 10, 2006, Milwaukee, WI. 
Check http://dssresources.com/news/1494.php .

2. ICDSS 2007, 9th International Conference on DSS, Jan. 2-4, 2007, 
Calcutta, India. Theme: Decision Support for Global Enterprises.
Check http://www.ICDSS2007.org . 

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DSS News Releases - September 24 to October 6, 2006
Read them at DSSResources.COM and search the DSS News Archive

10/06/2006 Microsoft Healthcare users group and Microsoft request
entries for MS-HUG Healthcare Innovation awards. 

10/06/2006 Convenos to introduce simple, low-cost Web conferencing
service to Salesforce.com users. 

10/05/2006 Delaware to build first statewide health information
network. 

10/05/2006 Securac white paper: 'Enterprise Risk Management for Basel
II'.

10/05/2006 Visual Mining launches no-hassle on-demand dashboards for
Salesforce.com users. 

10/04/2006 Mathematica(R) Link for Excel 3 brings powerful new
features for data analysis to Microsoft Excel. 

10/04/2006 MHF Logistical Solutions: new software enhances 'Smart
Railcars' initiative. 

10/04/2006 Freight Handlers, Inc. selects Epson and Hand Held
Products to automate warehouse-to-supermarket distribution.

10/04/2006 Stottler Henke wins Air Force contract for simulation
system to test command and control concepts. 

10/04/2006 Adaptive Planning achieves top ranking at SourceForge. 

10/04/2006 Passive RFID infrastructure augmentation at DOD
Distribution Centers complete. 

10/04/2006 Microsoft highlights 'real-world' approach to SOA at SOA &
Business Process Conference. 

10/03/2006 EMC and Microsoft form new enterprise content management
alliance, extend Microsoft Office SharePoint server with content,
compliance and archive solutions. 

10/03/2006 Netezza User Conference charts a course for the future of
data warehouse appliances. 

10/03/2006 ILOG unveils industry’s first system for developing
custom optimization-based planning and scheduling applications. 

10/02/2006 Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2006 in Orlando is less than one
week away. 

10/02/2006 TIBCO to open source best-rated AJAX rich Internet
application toolkit. 

10/02/2006 New Belgium Brewing taps Pilot Software to increase
internal transparency and strengthen operational alignment. 

10/02/2006 Fair Isaac recognized as business rules management systems
market leader. 

10/02/2006 South Africa’s acclaimed Vineyard Hotel & Spa and
Townhouse Hotel roll out IDeaS Revenue Optimization. 

09/29/2006 Hyperion continues revenue leadership of worldwide
business performance management market.

09/28/2006 Gartner says 25 percent of new business software will be
delivered as Software as a Service (SaaS) by 2011.

09/28/2006 Computerworld Survey shows nation’s top corporations
investing more in business intelligence technology.

09/28/2006 Survey finds multi-vendor outsourcing on the rise.

09/28/2006 MicroStrategy announces Fall Symposium in Chicago October
10-11, 2006. 

09/28/2006 Five Hyperion customers honored at Computerworld BI
Perspectives conference.

09/27/2006 Symbol RFID solution helps keep supplies moving through
AmeriQual production process.

09/27/2006 IBM Global Financing automates invoice processing with new
intelligent data capture solution from Razorsight.

09/26/2006 Survey suggests ... consumer data breaches will get worse
- stolen, unsecured laptops and other mobile devices pose a threat.

09/26/2006 The 'New IT Professional' needs strong business and
technological skills. 

09/26/2006 WellPoint to launch new Medicare Part D decision tool.

09/26/2006 New Cognos performance solution helps U.S. defense
agencies fulfill Program Objective Memorandum (POM) planning
requirements..

09/26/2006 Mindjet to deliver MindManager on WebEx Connect.

09/25/2006 R.L. Polk & Co. shifts multi-terabyte data warehouse to
Oracle(R) Grid Computing solution.

09/25/2006 New web-based service enables insurance agents to easily
automate operations.

09/25/2006 Cognos previews Cognos 8 Go! Mobile.

09/24/2006 Survey results: the future of the Internet.

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