from DSSResources.com

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                          DSS News
                     D. J. Power, Editor
               April 28, 2002 -- Vol. 3, No. 9
         A Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM

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        Check the Case from Proclarity about Decision
        Support at Emerald Health at DSSResources.COM
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Featured:

* DSS Wisdom
* Ask Dan! - What are the "best" Decision Support Systems academic 
programs?
* What's New at DSSResources.COM
* DSS News Stories

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Check Dan Power's new book, Decision Support Systems: Concepts and 
Resources for Managers.  Get more information at 
http://www.dssresources.com/dssbookstore/power02.html .

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This newsletter has more than 800 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 

According to Alexis and Wilson (1967), "One of the fundamental 
information problems of large organizations is this: Information is 
costly, hence organizations must balance the gain from information 
against the cost of obaining it.  Organizations thus seek to develop 
systems that generate information with many end uses (multi-purpose 
information systems).  But many decision situations require specialized 
information, useful for that situation alone.  This is costly to 
provide.  To improve the quality of information where high information 
collection costs cannot be justified, managers must find ways to reduce 
collection costs." (p. 337)

from Alexis, M. and C. Wilson.  Organizational Decision Making.  
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1967.

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Ask Dan!
by D. J. Power

What are the "best" Decision Support Systems academic programs?

I'm somewhat reluctant to even attempt to answer this question, but it 
or something similar is a question I receive frequently. Some of the 
related questions include: Where should I go to study DSS? What are the 
top Ph.D. programs in DSS? Where is the best DSS research being 
conducted? What are the "best" DSS research groups in academia or 
companies?

So with a certain trepidation, I'll try to frame my answer from a number 
of perspectives and I'm open to additions and suggestions to add to this 
response. My analysis focused on clusters of DSS researchers at 
universities, programs of study and external rankings. 

First, let's look at "best" in terms of programs with clusters of 
faculty who have published DSS research.

Where are the concentrations of faculty who have done research on 
Decision Support related topics? This answer shifts to some extent each 
year as faculty change jobs, retire or move to industry. Many of the 
early DSS researchers left academic jobs and went into industry. That 
outflow of talent hurt the development of academic programs in 
DSS, but some of those people have crossed back to university research 
and teaching. The DSSResources.COM DSS Researchers Web Page Directory is 
a good starting place for identifying active researchers in DSS.

Some faculty groups to check include Arizona State University (Mike 
Goul, Andy Philippakis, Robert St Louis, Karen Dowling), the University 
of Arizona (Jay Nunamaker, David Pingry, Hsinchun Chen), the University 
of Georgia (Jay Aronson, Bob Bostrom, Hugh Watson), the University of 
Hawaii at Manoa (Ralph Sprague, Tung Bui, Ray Panko, Bill Remus) and 
Virginia Tech (Larry Moore, Cliff Ragsdale, Terry Rakes, Loren Rees).  
All five of these universities have strong DSS faculty groups. The Naval 
Post Graduate School has had outstanding faculty, especially related to 
model-driven DSS. And until recently, Texas A&M was strong in DSS, but 
many faculty have moved on to other programs. From a more global 
perspective check programs at Monash University in Australia, City 
University of Hong Kong and the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. You 
can find some additional groups on the DSS Research Centers page.

It's my opinion, that the key for a strong masters or doctoral program 
is a cluster of active researchers in a specific research area like DSS. 
Kevin Crowston at Syracuse maintains a list of 139 PhD degree programs 
in information-related fields (visit http://isphd.syr.edu). The short 
program descriptions can help in identifying strong programs.

Second, let's briefly look at the content of undergraduate and graduate 
degree programs.

As far as structured programs of study, I visited a number of websites 
and I was especially impressed with the Decision Support Systems 
undergraduate program at Virginia Tech in the Pamplin College of 
Business in the Business Information Technology department. Virginia 
Tech has reinvented its Management Science and Information Technology 
program in a positive, proactive way. The Virginia Tech Business 
Information Technology website reports "In the January 9, 1995 issue of 
Computerworld magazine, in an article surveying 25 of the largest firms 
that annually hire new graduates in the information systems field, our 
DSS option major was ranked among the top ten schools in the country for 
IS graduates. Other universities listed in the top ten included Carnegie 
Mellon, Purdue, Pennsylvania and Virginia." Given the faculty and the 
program of study that assessment should still be true today. 

In general, specializing in Decision Support Systems is a better focus 
for MS and Ph.D. programs.  Any undergraduate program that stresses 
decision support must insure that students study the fundamentals in 
systems analysis, database design and development and management 
science. The Virginia Tech program does.

Finally, let's link the above information to ratings of MIS programs and 
see if any conclusions are appropriate.

Now we get to external ratings and rankings. Allen Lee (2001) wrote an 
editorial in MIS Quarterly titled "What Are the Best MIS Programs in 
U.S. Business Schools?" He examined the ratings from Business Week and 
U.S. News & World Report and compared them to information from 3 
experts.  Allen also visited web sites.  I examined Allen's analysis and 
tried to critique what he found in the context of DSS. For example, 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology still ranks highly in the external 
ratings, but it is not the center of DSS research it was in the 1970s. 
The University of Texas at Austin (Andrew Whinston, George Huber) has an 
outstanding MIS program, but its faculty seem to have shifted their 
research emphasis. All of the universities mentioned above are generally 
ranked highly in the external sources, but as Allen Lee noted "There are 
some surprises." You can check the U.S. News & World Report Best 
Undergraduate Business Specialties at
http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/college/rankings/business/mis.htm.

The strong programs will publicize what they do well. For example, check 
the University of Georgia, Terry College of Business 2001-2002 Rankings 
Summary at http://www.terry.uga.edu/news/rankings/2002. "The MIS faculty 
ranked first in research productivity, based on the number of research 
articles published from 1993-1997 in the field's two leading academic 
journals, MIS Quarterly and Information Systems Research."

Visiting web sites is a good way to find out more about academic 
programs and faculty. Students interested in applying to a graduate or 
undergraduate program should check web sites. Assessing where to study 
for a Ph.D. is always a challenge. Strong candidates should try to read 
some articles in academic journals like Decision Support
Systems and find authors who seem to be doing interesting work; then 
track them down and see if their university has a strong graduate 
program. Finally, try to contact the professor to make sure s/he is 
involved in graduate teaching. If you are working in industry, and want 
to retool and/or change careers attend an academic professional meeting 
like the Americas Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS) in the 
summer prior to when you want to enter graduate school. AMCIS 2002 (URL 
http://hsb.baylor.edu/AMCIS2002/) is a good place to find out about 
Decision Support academic programs, researchers and job opportunities. 

DISCLAIMER: One should view any ranking of academic programs with 
skepticism. In most cases programs are difficult to compare and the 
criteria are hard to measure. Criteria are either subjective or narrow 
measuable surrogates for broad subjective measures like quality and if 
raters are involved, they are often unavoidably biased. Prospective 
students and potential employees should using ratings as a starting 
point in a search process or as one of many inputs in a decision 
process.

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References

Lee, A. S. "What Are the Best MIS Programs in U.S. Business Schools?
MIS Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 3, pp. iii-vii, September 2001.  
http://www.misq.org/archivist/vol/no25/issue3/edstat.pdf

U.S. News & World Report Best Undergraduate Business Specialties 
http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/college/rankings/business/mis.htm

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What's New at DSSResources.COM

04/21/2002 Revised For Managers page and Library page.

04/14/2002 Posted article by ProClarity Staff, "ProClarity Helps Major 
Preferred Provider Organization Enhance its Value in Many Ways", 
ProClarity Corp., 2002, URL DSSResources.COM/cases/emerald_health.htm.

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DSS News - April 12 to 26, 2002

04/26/2002 Mellon HR Solutions will provide global online Human 
Resources Management Services to American Express.

04/25/2002 10 Gigabit Ethernet Alliance prepares to introduce 10 GbE 
interoperability network.

04/24/2002 Intergraph Mapping and GIS Solutions initiates homeland 
security network.

04/23/2002 Cal State University Office of the Chancellor adopts 
ServiceWare knowledge management solutions. 

04/23/2002 Siebel eInsurance 7 provides CRM functionality for management 
of insurance channels.

04/23/2002 Neiman Marcus selects Business Objects for Strategic Business 
Intelligence CRM application.

04/22/2002 Teradata Introduces Teradata Warehouse 6.2 Suite.

04/22/2002 MicroStrategy announced Microstrategy 7i Business 
Intelligence platform.

04/22/2002 ProClarity Corporation announces Release 5, analytic solution 
to deliver shared business logic to the decision maker.

04/22/2002 Aberdeen user survey finds Financial Analytics face adoption 
challenges.

04/19/2002 UtiliCorp Networks Canada chooses Intergraph's GeoMedia 
Technology for managing mission-critical utility data. 

04/17/2002 Intergraph Mapping and GIS Solutions and the city of 
Abbotsford partner for Internet-based city services.

04/17/2002 CIOs Agree on Key Issues; Attenza CIO Roundtable Illuminates 
Common Themes.

04/17/2002 Intergraph's Team GeoMedia Programs surpass 100 members and 
expand global reach. 

04/16/2002 AmeriCredit improves information reporting with Cognos 
Business Intelligence.

04/16/2002 Databeacon announced release of Databeacon 5.3 with new 
features for interactive data publishing.

04/15/2002 Decision Management International introduced Regulus™ 3.0. 

04/15/2002 HNC Software announced Decision Manager for Claims, first 
decisioning tool specifically for workers' compensation.

04/15/2002 Decisioneering forms partnership with DATASKILL to develop 
Stochastic Modeling Workbench.

04/12/2002 Northrop Grumman to provide computer-aided dispatch, mapping 
system to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. 

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