from DSSResources.com

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                          DSS News
                       by D. J. Power
                May 6, 2001 -- Vol. 2, No. 10
         A Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM
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     Subscribe and join the DSSResources.COM community
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Featured:
* DSS Wisdom
* Ask Dan! -- What companies have gained a competitive advantage 
by building a DSS?
* What's New at DSSResources.COM
* DSS News Stories
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Systems.
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DSS Wisdom
Keen and Scott-Morton (1978) stated: "Decision Support Systems couple 
the intellectual resources of individuals with the capabilities of the 
computer to improve the quality of decisions. It is a computer-based 
support system for management decision makers who deal with 
semi-structured problems."
Keen, P. G. W. and M. S. Scott-Morton. Decision Support Systems: An 
Organizational Perspective.  Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1978.
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Ask Dan!
What companies have gained a competitive advantage by building a DSS?
The problem in answering this question is that firms want to 
maintain the advantage they gain and hence they are reluctant to release 
many details about strategic information systems. Also, DSS that provide 
an advantage at one point in time may seem dated or ordinary after only 
a few years has elapsed. The advantage can be fleeting and short-term 
(cf., Feeny and Ives, 1990)
Porter and Millar (1985) provided a major theoretical perspective on how 
information could provide competitive advantage. A number of other 
theories related to competitive advantage suggest that deployment of 
resources like innovative decision support systems can provide a 
sustainable business advantage.
DSS can be important and useful and necessary and yet not provide a 
competitive advantage.  Many consulting firms and vendors focus on 
gaining competitive advantage from a data warehouse or a business 
intelligence system and that can happen. Many DSS projects don't however 
deliver such results and they probably weren't intended to create 
competitive advantage.
In a now classic study, Kettinger et al. (1994) identified a number of 
companies that had gained an advantage from Information Systems. Some of 
those systems were Decision Support Systems, but most were Transaction 
Processing Systems. The following DSS examples are from their paper:
Air Products -- vehicle scheduling system
Cigna -- risk assessment system
DEC -- expert system for computer configuration
First National Bank -- asset management system
IBM -- marketing management system
McGraw Hill -- marketing system
Merrill Lynch -- cash management system
Owens-Corning -- materials selection system
Proctor & Gamble -- customer response system
Time and technology have had a negative impact on how some of the above 
systems are perceived. A major lesson learned is that a company needs to 
continually invest in a Strategic DSS to maintain any advantage.
INTERFACES Volume 13, No. 6 Nov-Dec 1983 had a number of DSS Case
studies that have since then become classics. For example, Distribution 
of Industrial Gases at Air Products and Chemicals, the ASSESSOR Pre-Test 
Market Evaluation System, Southern Railway's Computer Aided Train 
Dispatching system.
Chapter 2 of my DSS Hyperbook furher explores the question of gaining 
competitive advantage from DSS.  In the chapter, my examples include 
decision support systems at Frito-Lay, L.L. Bean, Lockheed-Georgia, 
Wal-Mart and Mrs. Field's Cookies. 
If a company is trying to develop a Decision Support System that 
provides a competitive advantage, managers and analysts should ask how 
the proposed DSS affects company costs, customer and supplier relations 
and managerial effectiveness.  Managers should also attempt to assess 
how the proposed strategic system will impact the structure of the 
industry and the behavior of competitors. 
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Clemons, E.K. and Weber, B.W., "Strategic information technology 
investments: Guidelines for decision making," Journal of Management 
Information Systems, 1990, 7(2), 9-28. 
Feeny, D.F. and Ives, B., "In search of sustainability: Reaping 
long-term advantage from investments in information technology," Journal 
of Management Information Systems, 1990, 7(1), 27-46. 
Kettinger, W., Grover, V., Guha, S., and Segars, A., "Strategic
Infornmation Systems Revisited," MIS Quarterly, 1994, pp. 31-55.
Porter, M.E. and Millar, V.E., "How information gives you competitive 
advantage," Harvard Business Review, 1985, July-August.
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What's New at DSSResources.COM
05/05/2001 Published case example by Nucleus Research Staff, "Return on 
Investment Profile: Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server", Nucleus 
Research, April 2001, URL DSSResources.COM/cases/raremedium.html.
04/30/2001 Published case example by arcplan Staff, "Bayer's unique 
planning wizard system cures budgeting headaches", arcplan, Inc., 
January 2000, URL DSSResources.COM/cases/bayer.htm.
04/28/2001 Published Lotito, J. "Concepts of Database Design and 
Management" Tutorial.
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DSS News Stories - Apr. 21 to May 4, 2001
05/04/2001 Call for papers: DS I-AGE 2002, IFIP TC8/WG 8.3 Open 
Conference, University College of Cork, Ireland, 4-7 July 2002. Due 
November 30, 2001. Check call.
05/04/2001 SGI showcases visualization systems at American Association 
of Museums Meeting, May 6-10.
05/02/2001 eEye Digital Security announced major vulnerability in 
Microsoft® Windows 2000 IIS 5.0 Web Server Software.
05/02/2001 Business Objects announced availability of its Business 
Intelligence Portal Integration Kit for Microsoft SharePoint Server. 
05/01/2001 ESRI is now shipping ArcGIS 8.1, a single, integrated 
Geographic Information System.
05/01/2001 Michigan implements Executive Information System to enhance 
management of healthcare services.
04/30/2001 Procter & Gamble implements Polycom system for worldwide 
video communications.
04/30/2001 Provident Central Credit Union selects Sagent for better 
customer service.
04/27/2001 Ferris Research reports problems with Microsoft SharePoint 
Portal Server.
04/26/2001 Iowa Health System selects Allscripts for wireless 
prescribing and dictation.
04/26/2001 Fair, Isaac announced new decision technology to help 
company's maximize profit.
04/26/2001 Three Business Objects customers win awards for decision 
support applications.
04/25/2001 IBM buys database business of Informix Corp.
04/24/2001 Risk Management firm chose Business Objects to simplify 
Workers' Compensation programs via e-BI Extranet.
04/24/2001 IBM and Ascential Software form global strategic alliance to 
market Business Intelligence and Information Asset Management solutions.
04/23/2001 Microsoft and Hyperion published open XML for Analysis 
specification.
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