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                D. J. Power, Editor
          January 14, 2007 -- Vol. 8, No. 1

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* Report from ICDSS 2007 in Kolkata
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Report from ICDSS 2007 in Kolkata

by Dan Power
Editor, DSS News

A welcoming garland of lotus flowers signaled the start of my visit
to Kolkata and the 9th International Conference on Decision Support
Systems (ICDSS 2007). Conference Co-chair Ramesh Sharda's Uncle Ram
Baheti greeted Ramesh, Mary Gros of Teradata, Peter Keenan, Anza
Akram and I at the Kolkata airport with lotus garlands. My knowledge
of Indian and Hindu traditions is still evolving, but it seems that
the lotus is a symbol of serene beauty, prosperity, creativity,
knowledge and enlightenment. Thanks to Ram, I will always remember
the lotus as a symbol of this excellent conference.

My flight from Delhi to Kolkata on Monday, New Year's day 2007 was a
bit delayed, but uneventful. The car ride from the Kolkata airport to
my hotel, the Hindustan International, was more exciting. The traffic
at 7:30 pm was still heavy and the driver's were risk takers. We
arrived too late to get to the opening reception at the Indian
Institute of Management (IIMC) at Joka on Diamond Harbor Road. So I
settled into my room after a light meal. The hotel is about 35
minutes by car from campus. I'm still disoriented about places in
Kolkata, but my map shows IIMC is on the southwest side of the city.

Kolkata is called the "City of Palaces" or the "City of Joy" and it
was the capital of British India until 1911. Today it is a spawling
metropolis that has palaces, shanty towns, modern hotels, a metro
rail and an antiquated street car line. There is a stark contrast of
old and new, rich and poor. Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta
however demonstrates the great potential in the city. IIMC is one of
the best business schools in Asia and the setting was a great venue
for an international conference. The campus is set among beautiful
lakes, but it is modernizing and adapting to the Information
Technology dominated world of the early 21st century.

After a quick breakfast of coffee, an omelette and toast, I boarded
the conference bus to head to IIMC on Tuesday morning at 8am. About
20 attendees were staying at HHI, many stayed in the guest house on
campus, at other hotels or with friends. Overall more than 90 people
registered for the conference from 18 countries. The largest group of
attendees was from India, but the U.S. also had a large number of
participants. The conference was January 2-4, 2007 with the theme
"Decision Support for Global Enterprises". In addition to an
e-proceedings, a conference referred book was published in the
Springer series, Annals of Information Systems as volume 2. The
editors are Uday Kulkarni, Dan Power and Ramesh Sharda (ISBN:
978-0-387-48136-4, cost USD $119).

All of the conference sessions were held at Tata Hall at IIMC. I
spent more than 20 hours attending sessions, but could only attend
about half of the presentations because of the scheduled parallel
sessions. The conference web page is http://icdss2007.org . The range
of sessions showcased the breadth of current research on DSS and
Knowledge Management.

Following coffee and conversation on Tuesday morning, I attended the
session on choice tools. Gad Ariav suggested the DSS user who was
reclining watching a large display screen needed much different
decision support than a user erect in front of a desktop display.
Ariav has been working on DSS for consumers choosing TV content. At
10:45am I listened to the papers on Web technologies. Frada Burstein,
SIG DSS Vice Chair, moderated the noon theme session. For about 25
minutes, I reviewed the issues that need more investigation so we can
better understand decision support for global enterprises. Ramesh
Sharda and Uday Kulkarni fielded querstions in a lively discussion.
Our article is in the conference volume.

After lunch, Stephen Brobst, CTO of NCR Teradata gave an industry
keynote on extreme data warehousing. The data for decision support is
growing rapidly and Brobst discussed the future of petabyte sized data
warehouses and real-time access to data. The future is extreme
retailing, extreme healthcare and extreme automotive insurance,
extreme "X". He argued the challenges to the success of these
applications is not technology, rather "the tough issues involve the
organizational, political, legal and ethical aspects." For an
overview see the related article by Stephen Brobst and Richard
Hackathorn "The future: eXtreme data warehousing", Teradata
Magazine-September 2004. Stephen is always interesting and
provocative and it was great he could join us. More papers and then
at 5pm a panel on Decision Support for Public Sector Crisis Response
Management in Developing Economies. The West Bengal State Home
Secretary, Mr. P. R. Roy was an active participant on the panel
chaired by Amitava Dutta, George Mason, and Sumit Sarkar, UT-Dallas.
We then had dinner and I took the bus back to HHI. Thirteen hours and
I was tired.

Wednesday morning the bus left Hotel Hindustan International at
8:30am and I spent the morning listening to papers related to
Enterprise Resource Planning and DSS. Following lunch I gave another
presentation on knowledge management. Frada Burstein examined
knowledge management leadership issues in the same session. In a
perfect world, I would showcase all of the presentations. The last
session I attend Wednesday was by Mary Gros of Teradata. Mary has a
charming, enthusiastic style and she really did an excellent job
explaining the capabilities and benefits of the Web-based Teradata
University Network (TUN). Hugh Watson is the Senior Director of TUN
and it is a great resource. The URL is teradatauniversitynetwork.com.

At 6:30 pm the evening entertainment for the conference started in
the new 750-seat Auditorium at IIM-Calcutta. No ICDSS would be
complete without a world class social event and local arrangements
co-chairs Ambuj Mahanti and Rahul Roy and conference co-chair Amitava
Bagchi delivered. Mamata Shankar's Ballet Troupe performed "Amritasya
Putra". The dance troupe led the audience through five very different
emotional experiences. I'm not a dance expert, but the blend of Indian
traditional and modern dance coupled with sound and light had a
powerful emotional impact. Thanks to Chandrodoy Ghosh the narrator
and Mamata Shankar and her entire troupe.

Following dance we had an excellent Punjabi feast in the courtyard at
Tata Hall. Tents, torches and festive decorations greeted us when we
returned from the ballet. My favorite was the Tandoori chicken
prepared in a traditional earthen oven (a tandoor). The feast
included a broad selection of non-vegetarian and vegetarian entrees.
In general I could handle the spices. The evening was a great success
with wonderful food, fellowship and fun.

Thursday morning I was dragging, but I took the 8:30 am bus and
attended sessions. Optimization and model-driven DSS was first on the
agenda, then I listened to some case studies. Denis Borenstein,
co-chair of ICDSS 2005, presented a case on a DSS to locate biodiesel
production plants. Ola Folorunsho, Olabisi Onabanjo University,
Nigeria, presented a case study on infrastructure problems related to
DSS in Nigeria. Following lunch Makrand Jadhav, General Manager,
Teradata, New Delhi, presented a workshop on data warehousing. I
checked in on the session briefly and then did some touring of
Kolkata. Ramesh Sharda, Ramayya Krishnan (Carnegie Mellon
University), and I visited the Ramakrishna ashram in Howrah. The
temples are located along the Ganges river. Sri Ramakrishna
proclaimed the harmony of religions and his monastic disciples and
lay devotees conduct social service activities and operate missions
in 19 countries. I had two great companions on my exploration of
traditional Hindu religious traditions. Many thanks to Profs. Sharda
and Krishnan.
 
The purpose of ICDSS 2007 was to promote discussion and interaction
among members of the global decision support and knowledge management
systems community. I think we accomplished this goal. The conference
was sponsored by the Association for Information Systems special
interest group on decision support, knowledge and data management
systems (SIG DSS), The International Society for Decision Support
Systems. The major industry sponsors were Teradata, a division of NCR
(www.teradata.com) and UTI Bank (www.utibank.com).

Let's look back at the start of the trip. My trip began on December
25, 2006 when I flew to Delhi. I took 187 photos of my adventure with
my digital camera. I rode in an auto rickshaw (or tuk-tuk), a
motorized version of the traditional rickshaw and the drivers weave
in and out in the heavy Delhi traffic. I had an excellent visit at
the Asia Pacific Institute of Management (http://www.asiapacific.edu)
in Delhi on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2006. Profs. A. K. Sinha and Vikash
Kumar were my hosts. I presented a talk on "Supporting Business
Decision Making" to about 100 students. The students responded
enthusiastically and presented me with a beautiful flower bouquet.
Vikash took me, Peter Keenan and Anza Akram out to dinner at Nathu's
Sweets. Vikash also joined us at ICDSS 2007. 

Beginning on the 29th, I took a car tour with Anza and Peter. We met
Ramesh Sharda in Jaipur on Dec. 30, 2006. On New Year's eve day, 
we drove to Agra and visited the Taj Mahal. I had wanted to see
the Taj Mahal for about 45 years. I first saw a picture of it in my
7th grade social studies book. We then attended a New Year's eve
party at our hotel, Clarks Shiraz Agra. I was tired however and left
the party at about 10:30 pm. With the touring done, I was ready
for ICDSS 2007 in Kolkata.

More on decision support ... In my travels, I observed a control room
for video cameras at the Taj Mahal and The Times of India (12/30/2006)
had a story on a new traffic monitoring system that had been
implemented in Delhi. In the first phase, 36 fixed and rotating
camera had been installed at nine locations. A policeman in the
control room has live images and can zoom in on the license plates of
traffic offenders. The system also has wireless connectivity to public
address speakers at intersections. 

In Chicago at O'Hare airport, I had an opportunity to observe the new
US-VISIT exit system (www.dhs.gov/us-visit) in operation. My Delhi
flight #292 was boarding at Gate K16 and 3 Homeland Security
employees were checking foreign nationals boarding the flight. Each
of them had a handheld input device with a fingerprint reader,
camera, display and keypad. Agents inputted visa information using a
bar code reader attached to their belts, scanned both the left and
right index finder tips, and printed a receipt for each person who
passed the screening. The receipts were collected as people actually
boarded the plane. Each agent had a wireless connection to check the
status of each visitor. It took about 30 seconds to process each
passenger and in approximately 15 minutes the 3 agents checked
approximately 100 passengers. Overall, I thought the hardware part of
the system was well designed and the agents were efficient and polite.
I'm unsure about how much decision support agents had to check the
status of visitors. One of the agents did answer some basic questions
I had about the hardware. 

So another successful trip and a great conference has ended. My
flight home from Delhi took 15 1/2 hours to Chicago and then an
hour flight to Cedar Rapids and an hour by car to Cedar Falls. As
always, your comments are welcomed.

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DSS Conferences

1. DAMA +Meta-Data, Boston, March 4-8, 2007. Check
http://www.wilshireconferences.com/MD2007/index.html .

2. ISCRAM 2007, May 13-16, 2007 Delft, The Netherlands, 
submission deadline Friday, January 26 2007, 6 pm (GMT). 
Check http://www.iscram.org .

3. AMCIS 2007, Americas Conference on Information Systems,
Keystone, CO USA, August 9-12, 2007. SIG DSS mini-tracks.
Check www.biz.colostate.edu/amcis07/ .

4. DaWaK 2007, 9th International Conference on Data
Warehousing and Knowledge Discovery, Regensburg, Germany,
September 3-7, 2007. Full papers due: April 13, 2007.
Check http://www.dexa.org/ .

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DSS News Releases - December 31, 2006 - Jan. 12, 2007
Read them at DSSResources.COM and search the DSS News Archive

01/11/2007 AAA Washington hits the road with Microsoft Dynamics
Retail Management system.

01/11/2007 In recognition of success with Primavera(R), Sabre
Holdings named to the InfoWorld 100.

01/10/2007 The Leroy Merlin Group deploys Teradata Enterprise data
warehouse throughout the world.

01/10/2007 Open Text readies Summit 2007 Conference: Worldwide event
for Hummingbird customers and partners.

01/10/2007 "5 New Trends in Data Management -- and What You Should Do
Next": A keynote presentation by Jill Dyché, DAMA +Meta-Data,
Boston, March 4-8, 2007.

01/10/2007 webMethods introduces the next generation of business
process management suites with Fabric 7.0 release.

01/09/2007 MicroStrategy to provide enterprise business intelligence
to Paramount Pictures.

01/09/2007 Fair Isaac’s Blaze Advisor wins IDG’s
InfoWorld Award for best business rules management system.

01/09/2007 SAIC awarded DHS contract for new VACIS(R) P7500
high-energy container inspection systems.

01/09/2007 Credit scores used to deny African-Americans access to
financial services.

01/08/2007 Business Objects rated best in business intelligence by
readers of Intelligent Enterprise.

01/06/2007 Progress in reforming USA intelligence gathering, analysis
and sharing.

01/04/2007 Managers say the majority of information obtained for
their work is useless, according to Accenture survey.

01/03/2007 NASA showcases Stottler Henke Associates’
intelligent planning and scheduling systems in new video.

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