from DSSResources.com

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                          DSS News
                       by D. J. Power
                June 3, 2001 -- Vol. 2, No. 12
         A Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM
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Featured:
* DSS Wisdom
* Ask Dan! -- Is there a Theory of Decision Support Systems?
* What's New at DSSResources.COM
* DSS News Stories
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DSS Wisdom
According to Gordon Davis (1974), "The value of information is the value 
of the change in decision behavior because of the information (less the 
cost of the information).  An interesting aspect of this concept is that 
information has value only to those who have the background knowledge to 
use it in a decision.  The most qualified person generally uses 
information most effectively but may need less information since 
experience (frame of reference) has already reduced uncertainty when 
compared with the less-experienced decision maker." (p. 180)
Davis, Gordon B., Management Information Systems: Coonceptual 
Foundations, Structure, and Development.  New York: McGraw-Hill, 1974.
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Ask Dan!
Is there a Theory of Decision Support Systems?
Yes and No ... This question has not been addressed extensively in the 
academic Decision Support Systems literature.  I can't discuss the 
answer or answers to this question adequately in this column, but I'll 
try to provide a starting point for a more complete paper.
Let me begin by briefly reviewing what I consider the broadest set of 
ideas or propositions that come closest to the start of a theory of 
decision support or decision support systems.  The propositions all come 
from the work of the late Herbert Simon.
>From Simon's classic Administrative Behavior (1945) ... 
Simon's Proposition 1: Information stored in computers can increase 
human rationality if it accessible when it is needed for the making of 
decisions.
Simon's Proposition 2: Specialization of decision-making functions is 
largely dependent upon the possibility of developing adequate channels 
of communication to and from decision centers.
Simon's Proposition 3: Where a particular item of knowledge is needed 
repeatedly in decision, the organization can anticipate this need and, 
by providing the individual with this knowledge prior to decision, can 
extend his area of rationality. This is particularly important when 
there are time limits on decisions.
>From Simon's paper on "Applying Information Technology to Organization 
Design", we can identify 3 additional propositions in a Theory of DSS.
Simon's Proposition 4: "In the post-industrial society, the central 
problem is not how to organize to produce efficiently (although this 
will always remain an important consideration), but how to organize to 
make decisions--that is, to process information."
Simon's Proposition 5: From the information processing point of view, 
division of labor means factoring the total system of decisions that 
need to be made into relatively independent subsystems, each one of 
which can be designed with only minimal concern for its interactions 
with the others.
Simon's Proposition 6: The key to the successful design of information 
systems lies in matching the technology to the limits of the attentional 
resources... In general, an additional component (man or machine) for an 
information-processing system will improve the system's performance only 
if:
1. Its output is small in comparison with its input, so that it 
conserves attention instead of making additional demands on attention;
2. It incorporates effective indexes of both passive and active kinds 
(active indexes are processes that automatically select and filter 
information for subsequent transmission);
3. It incorporates analytic and synthetic models that are capable not 
merely of storing and retrieving information, but of solving problems, 
evaluating solutions, and making decisions.
A number of other authors have discussed topics related to a theory of 
DSS and perhaps in a later column I can examine ideas about when DSS are 
and should be used and ideas related to the design and development of 
DSS.  Simon's propositions address the need for and effectiveness of 
decision support systems.
Simon, Herbert A., Administrative Behavior, A study of decision-making 
processes in administrative organization (3rd edition).  New York:  The 
Free Press, 1945, 1965, 1976.
Simon, Herbert A., "Applying Information Technology to Organization 
Design", Public Administration Review, Vol. 33, pp. 268-78, 1973.
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What's New at DSSResources.COM
05/25/2001 Created Partner/Reseller Information page for people 
interested in promoting the DSSResources.COM Subscriber Zone.
05/22/2001 Published case example by Palisade Staff, "Procter & Gamble 
Uses @RISK and PrecisionTree World-Wide", Palisade Corp., Spring 2001, 
URL DSSResources.COM/cases/procterandgamble.html.
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DSS News Stories - May 19 to June 1, 2001
05/31/2001 Bill Gates demonstrates Office XP at product launch; focuses 
on productivity gains.
05/30/2001 IBM names seven researchers as Fellows, its most prestigious 
technical honor.
05/29/2001 Crystal Decisions announces release of Crystal Analysis 
Professional.
05/29/2001 Intel Itanium chip-based computers expected to enter 
production soon.
05/24/2001 Gartner says that worldwide database software market 
increased 10% in 2000.
05/22/2001 Worldwide sales of Microsoft's Pocket PC reach one million 
units.
05/21/2001 Webcast on making decisions with InfoImage Decision Portal 4 
on Wednesday, May 23, 2001, at 1 p.m. EDT.
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