from DSSResources.com

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                          DSS News
                       by D. J. Power
                July 1, 2001 -- Vol. 2, No. 14
         A Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM

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    Check the "For Researchers" page at http://dssresources.com
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Featured:

* DSS Wisdom
* Ask Dan! -- What is the difference between knowledge management and 
decision support?
* Comments from our readers
* DSS News Stories

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Each week, we have about 3000 unique visitors at DSSResources.COM. 
Also, this newsletter has more than 575 subscribers from 50 countries. 
Please forward this newsletter to people interested in Decision Support 
Systems or suggest they visit DSSResources.COM.

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DSS Wisdom

In his 1971 book, C. West Churchman discussed many topics related to 
supporting decision makers. Early in that book he stated "Knowledge can 
be considered as a collection of information, or as an activity, or as a 
potential.  If we think of it as a collection of information, then the 
analogy of a computer's memory is helpful, for we can say that knowledge 
about something is like the storage of meaningful and true strings of 
symbols in a computer. ... Put otherwise, to conceive of knowledge as a 
collection of information seems to rob the concept of all its life. ... 
knowledge resides in the user and not in the collection. It is how the 
user reacts to a collection of information that matters. ... Thus 
knowledge is a potential for a certain type of action, by which we mean 
that the action would occur if certain tests were run. For example, a 
library plus its user has knowledge if a certain type of response will 
be evoked under a given set of stipulations ... (p. 9-11)"

Churchman, C.W. The Design of Inquiring Systems, Basic Books, New York, 
NY, 1971. 

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What is the difference between knowledge management and decision 
support?

Recently, I listened to an address by Milt Jenkins, University of 
Baltimore, titled "The Evolution of the MIS Discipline: From Data, 
Through Information and Knowledge, To Wisdom." Milt was speaking in 
Krakow at the Informing Science Conference organized by Eli Cohen, 
Andrzej Zaliwski, and Alka Harriger. When Milt finished I wasn't certain 
if "Wisdom Management Systems" would be the new buzzword or if I was 
becoming a traditionalist and falling behind the times. 

Milt's talk reinforced my conclusion that we have a problem.  Many 
people are expecting too much from technology and some people seem to 
have forgotten that managers and decision-makers bring their values, 
experiences, knowledge and hopefully wisdom to the interaction with our 
decision support and information systems. 

One symptom of this problem is the focus on knowledge management 
systems. For the past 7 years I have tried to ignore the knowledge 
management fad, but in this Ask Dan! I'll try to explain how knowledge 
management and decision support differ. You may be asking ... why? Well, 
recently I spoke with a doctoral student who thought knowledge 
management might be replacing DSS. So I decided to check out the current 
status of knowledge management. 

Information Week (June 25, 2001) called knowledge management "fuzzy" in 
an article on Lotus Development's Discovery software. Another article 
suggested taxonomy is the current watchword in knowledge management.  
Apparently, people are recognizing that how "knowledge" is organized is 
perhaps more important than the "bells and whistles" of the software. To 
get a more academic perspective I visited http://www.brint.com, a web 
site run by Yogesh Malhotra. I had always considered that brint.com was 
promoting knowledge management.  After reading a few articles by 
Malhotra (1997, 2000), I wasn't certain what knowledge management was or 
if it was a good thing or not. Malhotra notes "Most of our knowledge 
management technology concentrates on efficiency and creating a 
consensus-oriented view. The data archived in technological ‘knowledge 
repositories’ is rational, static and without context and such systems 
do not account for renewal of existing knowledge and creation of new 
knowledge." But Malhotra seems to think that knowledge management is 
still somehow important.

What I think is that "knowledge management technologies" are an 
important delivery component in what I am calling document-driven DSS. 
This type of Decision Support System helps managers use specific 
documents and "knowledge" to support specific decision tasks. A good 
Document-Driven Decision Support System helps managers find relevant 
text-oriented information quickly. Decision support is a much more 
modest and much less grandiose concept that knowledge management. The 
scope of a document-driven DSS should be limited and we should have a 
framework for organizing what we are storing and collecting.  A 
document-driven DSS should not be a static repository rather it should 
evolve and get better as it is used!

Churchman (1971) noted "Knowledge resides in the user and not in the 
collection. (p. 10)" So let's build narrow domain collections of 
documents and "knowledge" relevant to specific decision processes and 
tasks and use them to support specific managers and knowledge workers. 
What do you think about knowledge management systems (KMS) versus DSS?

Dan

References

Churchman, C.W. The Design of Inquiring Systems, Basic Books, New York, 
NY, 1971. 

Malhotra, Y. "Knowledge Management in Inquiring Organizations," in the 
Proceedings of 3rd Americas Conference on Information Systems 
(Philosophy of Information Systems Mini-track), Indianapolis, IN, August 
15-17, 1997, pp. 293-295. 

Malhotra, Y. "Knowledge Management for E-Business Performance: Advancing 
Information Strategy to ‘Internet Time’", Information Strategy: The 
Executive's Journal, vol. 16(4), Summer 2000, pp. 5-16.

Malhotra, Y. "From Information Management to Knowledge Management: 
Beyond the 'Hi-Tech Hidebound' Systems".  In K. Srikantaiah & M.E.D. 
Koenig (Eds.), Knowledge Management for the Information Professional  
Medford, N.J.: Information Today Inc., 2000, pp. 37-61.

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Comments from our readers

Dear Professor Power:

Speaking about the spread of technological innovations I feel that it is 
worth mentioning E. Mansfield's research in early 60's, especially his 
paper in Econometrica (1961), showing that the technology adoption curve 
is a typical S-shape curve, very similar to those describing spread of 
epidemics in the classical Kermack-McKendrick model of mathematical 
epidemiology (1927).  These models are also presented in Martin Braun's 
book "Differential Equations and Their Applications" (Springer-Verlag, 
New York 1978).

Best regards,

J. A. Cibej
Ljubljana, Slovenia

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DSS News Stories - June 14 to June 30, 2001

06/28/2001 U.S. Defense Commissary Agency realized immediate ROI with 
Manhattan Associates' Warehouse Management System. 

06/27/2001 Kemper Insurance implements Fair, Isaac Underwriting 
solution; it provides easy, accurate, real-time Decision Support for 
1,600 agents. 

06/26/2001 U.S. Internal Revenue Service will extend its "balanced 
measures" Comshare Decision application to a wider user-base.

06/26/2001 MIT Professor Stephen Graves joined Servigistics as Chief 
Scientist.

06/26/2001 Smart Software announced the availability of SmartForecasts, 
Version 5.2, at the Retail Systems 2001 Expo.

06/25/2001 Compaq transfers technology to Intel and plans to move its 
64-bit servers to Intel Itanium™ processor. 

06/25/2001 Sagent Data Load Server received high marks in SPEX 
Research's ETL Tools 2001 review.

06/19/2001 Cray selected Servigistics for Service Parts Planning and 
decision Support.

06/19/2001 Technology and consulting companies working with Business 
Objects Mobile Business Intelligence Strategy.
 Check release.

06/18/2001 Wells Fargo Home Mortgage selected MicroStrategy and Cytek to 
implement integrated Banking Intelligence Solution. 

06/14/2001 UBC Commerce teams up with Cognos® to sharpen competitive 
edge for students.

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