from DSSResources.com

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                          DSS News
                     D. J. Power, Editor
              August 4, 2002 -- Vol. 3, No. 16
         A Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM

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     Check the Naval Medicine CIOs case by eRoom Staff
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Featured:

* Announcement: AIS SIG DSS meeting at AMCIS 2002
* DSS Wisdom
* Ask Dan! - What is ETL software and how is it related to DSS?
* Spreadsheet-based DSS Tip - Include Comments and Notes
* What's New at DSSResources.COM
* DSS News Releases

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DSS News is sent to more than 850 subscribers from 50 
countries. Please forward this newsletter to people interested
in Decision Support Systems and suggest they subscribe.

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Announcement: AIS SIG DSS meeting at AMCIS 2002 08/09/2002

The Association for Information Systems Special Interest Group about 
Decision Support and Analytical Information Systems (SIG DSS) will have 
a business meeting on Friday, August 9, 2002 at the Americas Conference 
on Information Systems (AMCIS) meeting in Dallas, TX, USA. The meeting 
will be held in Moreno A in the Hyatt Regency at Reunion at 5 PM. Please 
mark your calendars to attend this meeting and invite your friends. See 
you at the SIG DSS meeting.

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DSS Wisdom

Creating integrated systems to provide information for management 
decision making has been a goal for many years. Schoderbek, Kefalas and 
Schoderbek noted in 1975 that "Efforts have been made in many companies 
to design a total data base and then to use that base to generate the 
necessary information. To be sure, there has been some integration of 
data in many organizations, but, for the most part, this has been true 
for those systems utilizing the same kinds of related data.  This 
similarity of inputs is one of the requirements of an integrated system; 
if compatibility of data does not exist, the system is not integrated. 
(p. 221)"

from Schoderbek, P. P., A. G. Kefalas and C. G. Schoderbek, Management 
Systems: Conceptual Considerations, Dallas, TX: Business Publications, 
Inc., 1975.

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

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Ask Dan!
by Daniel J. Power

What is ETL software and how is it related to DSS?

Data warehousing practitioners have all experienced the frustration of 
creating a large data store from existing operating data bases built 
using a variety of data models and technologies. ETL software attempts 
to make that task easier.  ETL is an acronym for extract, transform and 
load. This type of software is also called data extraction software and 
it is sometimes referred to as "pipeline software" (cf., Gray and 
Watson, 1998).

In managing databases, ETL refers to a software package with three 
primary functions. EXTRACT reads data from a specified database and 
writes a subset of data to a file. TRANSFORM changes the new data set 
using rules or lookup tables. Finally, LOAD writes the data set to a 
database intended to support reporting, queries, drill down and other 
decision support solutions. 

ETL software can be used to create a temporary data set for a specific 
decision support purpose or it may be used to create and refresh a more 
permanent data mart or data warehouse.

Why is ETL software needed? Because in many situations the data that 
managers want to analyze is in diverse databases and in diverse formats. 
ETL software can get existing data into a form and format that is useful 
in a specific decision support task. Also, in some situations ETL 
software can be used to improve data quality and data integration. 
According to a Business Objects press release, ETL is "a critical 
building block to a successful business intelligence deployment".

The ETL task is a complex problem in most companies and for most 
decision support projects. The goal is to extract comparable data that 
is consistent and then "clean up" the data and structure it for rapid 
queries (cf. Anahory and Murray, 1997 p. 22-26).

Although I have moved data sets and recoded fields and populated new 
databases with existing data, I'm not an "ETL person". I know how 
important the extract, transform and load tasks are, but they also seem 
a bit tedious and boring from my perspective. You can get more 
information on ETL at the web sites of vendors. Three vendors are 
Ascential (www.ascentialsoftware.com) with its DataStage XE product, IRI 
(http://www.iri.com) and Acta Technology (www.acta.com). On July 9, 
2002, Business Objects announced it would acquire Acta Technology.

So ETL software helps prepare data from diverse data sources for use in 
a data-driven DSS. ETL begins the data warehouse/data-driven DSS 
development process. ETL software does NOT however insure the quality of 
DSS data -- it is only a tool that needs to be used intelligently. 

Readers interested in creating a DSS data store may want to check Larry 
English's White Paper titled "Ten Mistakes to Avoid If Your Data 
Warehouse Is To Deliver Quality Information" that is available at 
http://www.infoimpact.com.


References

Anahory, S. and D. Murray, Data Warehousing in the Real World: A 
Practical Guide for Building Decision Support Systems, Reading, MA: 
Addison-Wesley, 1997.

Business Objects Press Release, "Business Objects to Acquire Acta 
Technology, Inc.", July 09, 2002.

Gray, P. and Watson, H.J., Decision Support in the Data Warehouse, Upper 
Saddle River, NJ; Prentice-Hall PTR, 1998.

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      Check the DSS mini-track at AMCIS in Dallas. For 
     information visit http://hsb.baylor.edu/AMCIS2002/
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Spreadsheet-based DSS Tip

Include Comments and Notes

A Spreadsheet-based DSS should be well documented. Paper documentation 
is usually not however appropriate. A DSS developer may want online 
narrative documentation, but in context notes and comments can be 
especially helpful to users.

In MS Excel, to add a comment to a cell click the cell  in which you 
want to add the comment. On the Insert menu, select Comment. In the 
pop-up box, type the comment text. When you finish typing the text, 
click outside the comment box. A red triangle appears in the upper right 
corner of the cell and positioning the mouse over the triangle
displays the comment.

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What's New at DSSResources.COM

08/03/2002 Posted Web-based DSS page.

08/02/2002 Posted case by eRoom Staff, "Naval Medicine CIOs use 
collaboration and knowledge-sharing decision support application", 
eRoom, Inc., 2002, posted at DSSResources.COM August 2, 2002, URL 
DSSResources.COM/cases/.

08/01/2002 Posted Knowledge-driven DSS page.

07/28/2002 Updated Subscriber Zone Resource Index.

07/28/2002 Reformatted and moved DSS Case Summaries page to the 
Subscriber Zone.

07/28/2002 Reformatted and reorganized Decision Support Articles 
On-Line. Moved offsite article links page to the Subscriber Zone.

07/27/2002 Reformatted Vendor Case Studies page and rotated cases.

07/22/2002 Updated Top 5% DSS Web Sites page.

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DSS News Releases - July 22, 2002 to August 4, 2002

Complete news releases can be found at DSSResources.COM.

08/03/2002 HMonline announced breakthrough workers' compensation bill 
submission process.

08/01/2002 Sand Technology awarded $3 million CRM Analytics and Data 
Warehousing contract for Singlepoint.

08/01/2002 Intergraph's International Internship Program presents 
challenging learning environment for University students. 

07/31/2002 SGI receives major order to enhance DaimlerChrysler's Virtual 
Reality Center.

07/31/2002 Genesys Conferencing to provide access to Web Conferencing 
Services via HP Jornada 928 Wireless Digital Assistant.

07/31/2002 Resource Allocation: Steps and Tools for Optimizing 
Resources.

07/31/2002 Cognos announces support for mySAP(TM) BI. 

07/31/2002 Industry Leaders launch first partner-Led Microsoft-Qualified 
Prescriptive Architecture Guides for Internet Data Centers. 

07/30/2002 U.S. Army selects CorVu for Strategic Readiness System. 

07/30/2002 Documentum announced new product that unifies collaboration 
and enterprise content management.

07/30/2002 Business Objects expands product and service intelligence 
analytic application.

07/29/2002 Oracle adds third world record in data warehouse benchmarks.

07/29/2002 Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System deploys 
budgeting, reporting and analysis on the web with Comshare® CPM 
software.

07/29/2002 iManage chosen to facilitate collaborative working and 
improve efficiency for Zurich architects HZDS. 

07/29/2002 LoadBuilder™ from Haestad Methods streamlines water demand 
assignment for hydraulic modeling.

07/29/2002 SkillsNET selects Meridian Project Systems' GigaPlan for 
Project Management.

07/26/2002 Intergraph supports education excellence with GeoMedia 
education grants program.

07/25/2002 DDH Software announces HanDBase 3.0 for both Palm OS and 
Pocket PC Handhelds.

07/25/2002 Sagent announced major changes to its management team: 
Boisvert new CEO, Springsteel COO.

07/24/2002 Command System, Inc. demonstrates C2 Integration and 
Coalition Fire Support interoperability with Raytheon's AFATDS.

07/24/2002 Intergraph announces GeoSpatial World 2003 and issues call 
for presentations.

07/24/2002 Cognos takes leadership position in growing corporate 
scorecarding market. 

07/23/2002 Genesys Conferencing to offer Web Videoconferencing solutions 
with Philips web cams.

07/23/2002 Palm and IBM team to deliver wireless solutions for the 
enterprise.

07/23/2002 Insignia begins search for world's smartest Java developers 
with JPDA 2002 Application Developers contest.

07/22/2002 PeopleSoft positioned as top challenger in META Group CRM 
Market evaluation. Check release.

07/22/2002 MathWorks announces release 13 with major new versions of 
MATLAB and Simulink.

07/22/2002 COBE Cardiovascular pumps corporate performance with Cognos 
analytic applications.

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          You can read 786 DSS News releases in
          the Subscriber Zone at DSSResources.COM.

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