from DSSResources.com

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                          DSS News
                       by D. J. Power
              November 18, 2001 -- Vol. 2, No. 24
         A Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM

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    Check the HydroBasin Case Study at DSSResources.COM
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Featured:

* DSS Wisdom
* Ask Dan! - What are the achievements, trends and challenges for 
Decision Support Systems (DSS)?
* What's New at DSSResources.COM
* DSS News Stories

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This newsletter has more than 700 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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NOTE: Paper submissions due November 30, 2001 for IFIP WG 8.3 Conference 
on Decision Support Systems (DSS), Decision Support in the Internet Age, 
Cork, Ireland, July 4-7, 2002.  Check http://afis.ucc.ie/dsiage2002/.

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DSS Wisdom

Richard Cyert and James March make the following generalizations.  
"Individuals will treat estimates, information, and communication 
generally as active parts of their environment.  They will tend to 
consider the decision for which the information is relevant, the 
probable outcomes of various possible biases in information, and the 
payoff to them of various possible decision results.  They adjust the 
information they transmit in accordance with their perceptions of the 
decision situation." (p. 71)

Cyert, R. M., and J. G. March.  A Behavioral Theory of the Firm.  
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1963.

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Ask Dan!

What are the achievements, trends and challenges for Decision Support 
Systems (DSS)?

In late October, Manuel Mora, an Associate Professor in the Department 
of Information Systems, Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes 
(www.uaa.mx), Mexico, asked me to answer a brief e-interview (5 
questions) about the achievements, trends and challenges of 
Decision-making Support Systems (DMSS), including DSS, EIS and Expert 
Systems. In my responses I tried to look broadly at the various types of 
DSS, including Data-driven, Communications-driven, Knowledge-driven, 
Document-driven and Model-driven DSS.  The following are my 
"off-the-cuff" responses to his questions.

1) What are the key achievements from the research and practice of DSS 
in the last 20 years (1981-2001)?

The key achievements seem to be associated primarily with innovative 
products like Expert Choice, GroupSystems, IFPS and PowerPlay. In some 
ways the key achievements have come more from applied research and 
practice than from traditional academic research.  A number of 
Professors have migrated to the commercial realm to pursue their ideas. 
For example, researchers at a number of Universities made substantial 
contributions to the development of Group DSS and their research 
stimulated many studies related to the use of group technologies in 
organizations.

Vendors have worked to implement DSS products using graphical user 
interfaces and this has increased the accessibility of query and 
reporting tools, decision models and expert system technologies. 
Improved products have not however led to many new empirical studies 
related to how DSS impact decision behavior or decision quality.

2) What are the research issues and practical problems that have yet to 
be resolved in the field?

The research issues related to Decision Support still reads like a long 
shopping list. A few questions standout for me including: How can 
changes in the user interface impact the utility, perceived usefulness 
and effectiveness of a specific category of decision support system? How 
does the metadata available to a user impact the usefulness of a 
data-driven DSS? How does interactive video and voice change the 
dynamics and results of a synchronous meeting where some participants 
are geographically dispersed?

As far as practical problems, they are perhaps fewer in number than 20 
years ago, but more important because of the increased number of DSS 
users and their evolved expectations. Managing and creating large 
decision support databases remains a difficult task. Model management 
and model reuse remain difficult tasks related to building Model-driven 
DSS. Representing knowledge and capturing knowledge from experts in 
useful domains for decision support is certainly not a trivial task.

Despite extensive commentaries, anecdotes and studies, building 
Knowledge-driven DSS seems more like a myterious art than a routinized, 
well-understood development methodology. Finally, communications 
technologies have improved tremendously, but much needs to be done to 
insure that systems are available when needed, perform satisfactorily 
and that needed capabilities for interactive video are provided and 
integrated with other decision support and collaboration tools.

3) What are the 3-5 characteristics for the next generation of DSS for 
all management levels?

There won't be a single next generation for decision support.  Some
characteristics that will appear in decision support systems include 
greater customization, more integration with other information systems, 
integration of interactive voice and video, voice driven user 
interfaces, and more powerful representations including 3-D graphics and 
more realistic, graphical business and process simulations. I'm looking 
forward to "Roller Coaster Tycoon" or "Roller Coaster Designer" like 
decision support simulations.

4) What are the core concepts that are essential for future DSS
architectures ?

>From my perspective the core concept is accessibility, but security 
issues need to be addressed more systematically than they have been in 
recent years. Also the issue of database design and backup is a problem 
in terabyte sized warehouses that will only get worse. The issues 
associated with distributed components (.NET) and the role of 
application service providers (ASPs) will further complicate the design 
of DSS.

5) What are the main trends and challenges in the development of DSS 
from a practical perspective ?

The main trend seems to be vendor consolidation and the main challenge 
remains innovation.  The "older" Business Intelligence and Modeling and 
Analysis vendors seem to be ready for a wave of mergers and other joint 
activities.  Innovation is still possible in this product space and the 
example of Web Decision portals suggests that more innovation is both 
possible and likely.  There is certainly a need for new products in most 
of the decision support categories.

Please send me your comments and I want to extend my good wishes to 
Manuel Mora, Guisseppi Forgionne (UMBC), and Jatinder Gupta (Ball State) 
as they complete their book of contributed articles on DMSS. 

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What's New at DSSResources.COM

11/18/2001 Posted case by Young, James R., Geoff Rabone, Scott Akenhead 
and Ed Gregr, HydroBasin: Relicensing Planning for Hydroelectric 
Watersheds, Facet Decision Making, 2000, URL 
DSSResources.COM/cases/hydrobasin.htm.

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DSS News Stories

11/15/2001 Surgical Information Systems announces "Staff Scheduling" 
decision tool.

11/14/2001 IDC forecasts EMC to finish 2001 as World's #1 Provider of 
external storage for fifth consecutive year.

11/13/2001 MathSoft releases Mathcad 2001i, which has enhanced security 
and XP compatibility.

11/13/2001 Business Objects continues to lead in scalability, publishes 
latest performance test results.

11/13/2001 Brio Software to support next-generation business 
intelligence needs for Toyota.

11/12/2001 Databeacon 5.2 includes PageEnhancer API to integrate 
interactive analytics into web pages.

11/12/2001 U.S. Fleet Services sees Comshare MPC as integral part of its 
future dashboard of key business indicators.

11/12/2001 Industry-leading technology vendors endorse CognosŪ Series 7.

11/12/2001 Cutting Edge Software releases Quickoffice Conference, a 
real-time wireless application, at COMDEX.

11/09/2001 Tata Infotech develops alliance with MicroStrategy to enhance 
efficiency and productivity in vertical industries.

11/08/2001 Crownpeak Technology develops calculator to determine ROI 
from content and digital asset management. 

11/06/2001 Samsung SDS America launches new version of REQUBE 
intelligent database reporting tool.

10/31/2001 Decisioneering announces release of Crystal BallŪ multimedia 
training CD.

10/30/2001 Stratify launches flagship product platform.

10/29/2001 Entopia released Quantum 1.3 Software for Information 
Management.

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