from DSSResources.com

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                          DSS News
                       by D. J. Power
              February 3, 2002 -- Vol. 3, No. 3
         A Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM

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      Check the article by David Hamil, MESA Solutions
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Featured:

* DSS Wisdom
* Ask Dan! - What are the "hot" DSS research topics?
* What's New at DSSResources.COM
* DSS News Stories

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This newsletter has more than 750 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 1958, Professor James Bright concluded from his research that "Under 
automation, therefore, it becomes a job of management to create superior 
teamwork.  Automation is literally integration of the physical plant.  
Its counterpart for management is integration of the organization.  The 
plant and its people may no longer be unrelated elements, each 
proceeding with little regard to the other's actions.  An effective 
automation design team that knits together the requirements, plans, and 
adaptations of marketing, sales, product design, process design, 
purchasing, and manufacturing personnel to the total business goals is 
the first management step toward successful automation.  The creation of 
an operating team to sense the need for change and plan the 
changes--rapidly--is the second." (p. 234)

Bright, James R.  Automation and Management. Boston: Division of 
Research, Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard 
University, 1958.

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  Call for Papers: Decision Support Systems mini-track at
         AMCIS 2002-Dallas. Deadline 03/15/2002.
    Check URL http://www.misprofessor.com/dsscfp.html 

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Ask Dan!

What are the "hot" DSS research topics?

Academic research in the U.S. often seems as susceptible to trends and 
"hot" topics as other segments of our culture. For the past 10 years 
Decision Support has not been a "hot" topic in information systems 
research. Rather the focus of research narrowed and shifted.  Related 
technologies like data warehousing and data mining captured the interest 
of the more technically inclined researchers and Strategic Information 
Systems, e-commerce and e-business, the Internet and ERP were the focus 
of more behaviorally and organizationally-oriented information systems 
researchers.  

The research needs and questions associated with decision support have 
not diminished; rather they have grown in importance.  Some people seem 
to think that the technology issues associated with DSS were solved by 
integrated spreadsheets and simple query tools, they are wrong.  Some 
think that managers are more informed now and have better computing 
skills and hence there are no behavioral or organizational issues 
related to design, development and implementation of DSS -- Get a 
powerful project champion and use rapid prototying and you'll build an 
effective DSS.  That view is wrong.

Decision Support research may not seem "sexy" or "trendy", but it 
remains important.  Perhaps we need to package it as Knowledge 
Management research or Supply Chain Integration, but many how, when, 
what, who, where and why questions related to decision support remain 
unanswered or in dispute.

Swanson & Ramiller (1993) provided a good inventory of IS research 
themes that included some DSS topics. Their overview remains a good 
starting point for finding "hot" DSS topics.  

In terms of Communications-Driven DSS, Swanson & Ramiller suggest 
contrasting the processes and outcomes of computer-supported and 
conventional interaction. We can do much more to examine the effects of 
various conditions on the use of and outcomes of using 
Communications-Driven DSS technologies, especially the Internet and Web 
technologies. There remains a need to apply psychological and 
sociological theory to investigating and designing Communications-Driven 
DSS technologies. Researchers still need to explore causal variables 
like the nature of the leadership or moderator role, anonymity, goal 
ambiguity, and capabilities of the technology. Managers are now 
sophisticated enough to know that their responses are not really 
anonymous.  So perceptions of privacy may be more important than claims 
of anonymity in influencing decision participant behavior. We still have 
much to learn about dependent variables like the content and patterning 
of communication and group member attitudes and perceptions associated 
with Web-based DSS.

Fifty years of research by Management Scientists have led some to 
conclude that we know all we need to know about Model-Driven DSS. Such a 
conclusion neglects the increased complexity in our companies and in the 
world and the increased expectations for visual models and simulations.  
Model-Driven DSS should be a "sexy" topic. We have much more to learn 
about the management of models and we need new model components to 
advance the state of the art. Model management in distributed computing 
environments is now a requirement and not just a possibility.  The 
behavioral issues associated with model-driven DSS have often been 
avoided by relying on specialists and intermediaries to use complex 
models for analyses.  Models still need to be distributed more widely in 
organizations and they need to be packaged as model-driven DSS used by 
managers and staff.  Our understanding of how that diffusion of 
technology can happen is based more on personal experience than 
empirical research.

Knowledge-Driven DSS (KDSS) and management expert systems applications 
seem more practical today than 10 years ago.  We can conduct field 
studies of emergency management personel or medical doctors using 
handheld computers with Knowledge-Driven DSS.  Did the number of 
questioned or inaccurate prescriptions decrease significantly when an MD 
used a handheld-based KDSS to write prescriptions? What is the best 
method and approach, what overall architecture works and how should we 
measure performance when a manager uses a KDSS? How do we reconcile the 
knowledge of multiple experts? We can study distributed KDSS.

Providing data doesn't mean one has created a Data-Driven DSS. Providing 
a query capability doesn't necessarily mean managers will have the 
information they want when they want it. Many years ago, Gordon Davis 
said that we want management information systems that are "decision 
impelling".  Too many DSS and especially Data-Driven DSS fail that test. 
We have many issues that can be investigated.  For example, how can we 
improve the effectiveness of database modeling and database design for 
DSS.  The "best practices" for transaction systems are not generally 
appropriate for building a decision support data store. We have 
unresolved policy issues on error removal, data quality, privacy and 
data distribution. Management practice hasn't really changed to make 
effective use of DSS and especially Data-Driven DSS. We don't want to 
overload managers with data and yet we expect "fact-based" decision 
making. We aren't certain about the "how to" or "who should" questions 
when DSS designers need to identify critical success factors for 
monitoring or controlling company performance.

Document-Driven DSS are a reasonably new frontier to many, but they have 
been used for more than 25 years (cf., Swanson and Culnan, 1978).  What 
has changed is that document-driven DSS are now more accessible, more 
powerful and less expensive to develop and deploy. We still have many of 
the same questions to answer that we were struggling with 25 years ago.

Well, I'm working on a longer overview paper on major research issues 
related to decision support systems with Hemant Bhargava and Merrill 
Warkentin for the Americas Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS 
2002) August 9-11, 2002 in Dallas so I'll save some of my steam for that 
paper. There are certainly major issues related to the DSS development 
process, DSS user interface design, DSS performance evaluation, DSS 
security and control, interorganizational DSS and diffusion of these 
technologies that could be discussed. 

Hemant, Merrill and I are co-chairing the AMCIS 2002 minitrack on DSS 
and we invite you to submit a paper and/or dialog with us on the current 
"hot topics" in DSS.  Check the Call for Papers for our minitrack at 
http://www.misprofessor.com/dsscfp.html. We invite papers that address 
DSS issues. We also need reviewers, discussants and session chairs. The 
deadline for submitting papers for AMCIS 2002 is March 15, 2002.


Swanson, E. B., and M. J. Culnan, "Document-Based Systems for Management 
Planning and Control: A Classification, Survey, and Assessment," MIS 
Quarterly, December 1978. 

Swanson, E.B. & Ramiller, N.C. "Information Systems Research Thematics: 
Submissions to a New Journal, 1987-1992," Information Systems Research, 
4(4), 1993, pp. 299-330. 

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What's New at DSSResources.COM

01/27/2002 Posted article by Hamil, D. L. "Your Mission, Should You 
Choose to Accept It: Project Management Excellence", DSSResources.COM, 
01/27/2002, URL http://dssresources.com/papers/dssarticles.html. 

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DSS News Stories: January 16 to January 31, 2002

01/31/2002 J. D. Edwards announced demand consensus module with 
flexible, collaborative forecasting capabilities.

01/30/2002 Naval Air Depot Jacksonville now fully operational on new 
repair & overhaul software from Western Data Systems.

01/29/2002 MapInfo announced Homeland Security Program leveraging 
Location Intelligence.

01/29/2002 Business Objects selected by Volkswagen AG as its global 
business intelligence standard.

01/29/2002 American Automobile Association selected Viva Intelligence 
Portal.

01/28/2002 ChannelWave provides real-time visibility across demand chain 
with Crystal Decisions.

01/28/2002 SAS achieves compatibility with leading Java Standard, J2E.

01/25/2002 Morningstar creates Risk Analyzer tool to help investors 
assess overall portfolio risk.

01/25/2002 Subimo selected by PacifiCare Health Systems as a partner for 
delivering decision support tools to members.

01/25/2002 Atlantic Health System selects McKesson to provide physicians 
with remote access to patient information.

01/24/2002 Survey identifies need for supply chain design solutions and 
strategic inventory realignment.

01/23/2002 Sybase signs data warehousing deal in China with Nanjing 
local tax bureau.

01/22/2002 SAP Portals and Compaq announce strategic alliance to deliver 
enterprise portal solution.

01/22/2002 eTForecasts report indicates that PDA-Phones will revitalize 
the PDA market.

01/16/2002 Insightful launches StatServer® 6.0 Analytics software.

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