from DSSResources.com

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                       DSS News 
                  D. J. Power, Editor 
           October 26, 2003 -- Vol. 4, No. 22
       A Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM 

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       Check case by ePeople staff, "Customer-focused
               decision support at OpSource"

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Featured: 
* Report from IAADS in Omaha
* What's New at DSSResources.COM?
* DSS News Releases 

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Report from IAADS in Omaha
by Dan Power
Editor, DSSResources.COM

Omaha, Nebraska is a "booming" city on the banks of the Missouri River, 
about a 4 hour drive from my home in Cedar Falls, IA. Omaha was the 
setting Thursday, October 16th and Friday, October 17th for the 2003 
IAADS Thought Leaders Summit. The two-day conference was intended to 
bring together "world leaders in decision support to share ideas and 
explore the cutting edge of the field". You may be asking "What is a 
thought leaders conference?" or "Who invited people to the summit?" 
Basically IAADS is Jerry Wagner's "show". He hopes to create more dialog 
on advanced decision support and create a virtual organization to work 
collaboratively on "interesting, leading-edge" decision support 
projects.  Jerry invites people to attend; he sends out the invitations. 


Some readers may recall my report in DSS News from the 2002 summit. 
Jerry has made an enormous contribution to the computerized decision 
support field for more than 25 years.  His entrepreneuring with IFPS and 
Execucom in the early 1980's demonstrated that managers would "buy" 
computerized, model-driven decision support software. Jerry is a 
soft-spoken, modest guy who is working hard to advance the field of 
decision support.

I arrived Wednesday at the DoubleTree Hotel and attended the evening 
IAADS reception sponsored by Booz Allen.  The chatter was generally 
relaxed and social, but Wes Barnes (UT-Austin) and I had a chance to 
discuss his research on direct search optimization techniques for 
vehicle routing and military logistics. Promptly at 8pm I left the 
reception to watch the Cubs lose to the Florida Marlins in a baseball 
game.  I'm more passionate about DSS than baseball, but an exciting 
baseball game can get "my juices flowing". Thursday morning I had 
breakfast with Peter Beck and Stan Kowalski, the faciliators for the 
meeting.  Then I checked email in the new Executive Meeting Center on 
the 19th floor of the DoubleTree, the venue for our sessions.  Overall, 
the facilities and food were excellent.

This year the "Summit" was conducted using a "low tech" group 
facilitation technique called Open Space Technology.  In Open Space 
meetings, participants create and manage their own agenda of parallel 
working sessions around a central theme.  The theme for this year’s 
Summit was "Rehearsing the Future" and the goal was to create a road map 
for revitalizing decision support. Peter Beck, Co-Director, Strategic 
Solutions Center, SAIC Strategies Group, facilitated the sessions. He 
was patient and supportive as twenty-five (25) "strong personalities" 
grappled with a controversial set of issues. The conference brought 
together some of the most passionate advocates for computerized decision 
support.

Henk Sol, Peter Keen and Alexander Verbraeck made opening comments on 
the Summit theme of "Rehearsing the Future". It was obvious that they 
had a vision of decision support next generation that they wanted the 
group to adopt and support. Keen and Sol's upcoming book tentatively 
titled "Rehearsing the Future" should clarify their ideas for a wider 
audience.  From my perspective, Keen and Sol advocated focusing future 
decision support research on complex planning problems, especially in 
the public sector, where visual simulation could help political decision 
makers. They see that as the way to "revitalize decision support".

Verbraeck's (Delft University) research on visual simulation and 
real-time control using distributed simulation and control components 
linked using CORBA by wireless networks is very interesting and leading 
edge.  He has been working to develop object oriented simulation 
component libraries. Verbraeck has focused on improving decisions 
related to complex transportation and logistics system design problems. 

Following Verbraeck's presentation, Open Space "the mini-version" took 
center stage.  The process, designed by Harrison Owen, often involves 
groups of 400-500 people.  We only had about 25 participants so it was 
the "mini version". The Open Space presumption is that participants are 
collectively "in charge of the meeting". Peter Beck and Stan Kowalski, 
the facilitators from SAIC, gave us brainstorming freedom. We broke up 
into small discussion groups based on topics volunteered on the "Market 
Place" wall. David Paradice (Florida State) volunteered and then led a 
discussion on "Incorporating Multiple Perspectives into DSS Models"; 
Rustam Vahidov (Concordia University, Montreal) presented his ideas in a 
small group setting on "Situated Decision Support"; Miguel Encarnação 
(iMedia) led a group on "Decision-centered Visualization and 
Interfaces"; we also had a group on decision maker and stakeholder 
understanding.

I spent most of Thursday in a small group with Michael Goul (ASU) and 
Rustam Vahidov. Rustam is passionate about what he has labeled "situated 
DSS" as the new generation of decision support systems. He is 
particularly interested in the role agent-based sensors and effectors 
can play in integrating decision makers, a DSS and the relevant decision 
environment. Vahidov and Kersten have a paper in press at Decision 
Support Systems Journal on their proposed architecture. Rustam, Michael 
Goul and I discussed types of sensors and effectors. How would it work? 
As an example, a sensor agent would collect price information from 
supplier databases accessible from the Internet and then feed data to a 
DSS that would help a decision maker choose a vendor and determine 
product quantity, and then an effector agent would conduct a "bidding" 
interaction to establish a final price and place an order. Rustam and 
Kersten need to further clarify their ideas and terms, but this research 
stream has potential for decision support in some situations. Thanks 
Rustam for an interesting discussion.  At the "Report Back" session, 
Rustam summarized approximately 4 hours of discussion by our group in 10 
minutes. The reports from the four groups were diverse. We needed more 
time to question the groups about the reports.

Goul, Sol, Jim Courtney and Wafa Elgarah (both of Central Florida), and 
I had a brief meeting following the group reports to review the proposed 
AIS SIG DSS by-laws.  After some minor changes, we agreed the by-laws 
were ready for submission for approval by AIS Council. Thursday night I 
watched the Yankees beat the Red Sox in the American League 
Championship. Friday morning I got up early and had breakfast with Peter 
Beck and Jerry Wagner. 

The Friday morning session started with some controversy about the Open 
Space approach and the "theme" of the Summit.  People agreed to disagree 
and we moved on to create some new working groups.  I attended a 
breakout session led by David King, formerly CTO of Comshare and now CTO 
with Geac Computer Corp. (http://www.geac.com/). Geac acquired Comshare 
on August 1, 2003. David was leading a small group of us who were 
interested in discussing the role and mission of IAADS. Jerry Wagner was 
of course a central figure in that discussion.

I also briefly attended Ramana Rao's group breakout session on creating 
a Decision Support Next Generation demonstration website. Rao is the 
founder and CEO of Inzight Software. He spent much of his career at 
Xerox PARC. Keen and Sol joined the "demo site" group at about the same 
time I did and Peter suggested identifying a "classic" problem like 
supply chain for the web site. Rao and Encarnação were providing the 
thought leadership and had many good ideas. We adjourned about noon; I 
had a quick lunch and drove back to Cedar Falls.

The afternoon session involved reports from the groups, comments by 
Peter Keen and planning for a 2004 summit. I regret that I couldn't stay 
to listen, but I hope I contributed a bit to IAADS. What were the 
results? We do not all agree about the scope of next generation decision 
support, but clearly we all think decision support is important. DSS is 
"revitalized". IMHO DSS is not about technology, software or 
visualization.  Rather DSS is about helping decision makers who want and 
need computerized decision support to improve the quality, efficiency or 
effectiveness of their decisions.

IAADS is about ideas, dialectic, dialog and building relationships for 
interesting "real world" DSS projects. Thanks Jerry and all of my IAADS 
friends for an interesting learning experience.

References

International Academy for Advanced Decision Support (IAADS),
http://www.iaads.unomaha.edu/

Vahidov, R. and G. E. Kersten, "Decision station: situating decision 
support systems," Decision Support Systems, in press.

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What's New at DSSResources.COM? 

10/24/2003 Posted case by ePeople staff, "Customer-focused decision 
support at OpSource", 2003. Check the case studies page.

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DSS News Releases - October 13 to October 23, 2003
Read them at DSSResources.COM and search the DSS News Archive

10/23/2003 RSA Security extends web access management software to 
support IBM(R) Lotus Notes(R) messaging and collaboration platform.

10/22/2003 Oracle journeys to the center of the grid.

10/22/2003 Ascential Software helps MicroStrategy to channel critical 
business information.

10/22/2003 Call for papers IJIEM: "Business Intelligence for Competitive 
Advantages"; submission deadline 12/1/2003.

10/21/2003 Cognos Enterprise Planning series continues to gain momentum 
globally with customers and partners.

10/21/2003 Inter-Tel introduces enterprise conferencing and enterprise 
instant messaging solutions.

10/21/2003 Visual Analytics delivers ground-breaking information sharing 
and collaboration for law enforcement and homeland defense with Digital 
Information Gateway (DIG(TM)).

10/20/2003 General Dynamics to provide geographic information services 
to U.S. Forestry Service.

10/20/2003 Oracle(R) Database 10g on Fujitsu(R) PRIMEPOWER(TM) 2500 
server sets world record for very large data warehousing performance.

10/20/2003 Patterson Dental expands deployment of MicroStrategy platform 
for sales analysis and reporting.

10/17/2003 California Software releases BABY/OLAP version 2.0.

10/16/2003 Financial services leaders bank on Hyperion to manage 
business performance.

10/16/2003 Teradata maintains fourth year of unbroken lead in analyst 
firm data warehousing evaluation.

10/16/2003 Algo Suite 4.4 to set new standards for enterprise risk 
management through Basel II compliance and distributed computing.

10/15/2003 Pharmaceutical Care Network launches next generation pharmacy 
claims and utilization trends analysis and reporting tool.

10/14/2003 Intergraph addresses demand for heightened availability of 
geospatial information with interoperable geospatial intelligence 
solutions.

10/14/2003 Haestad Methods revolutionizes the CAD and GIS industries.

10/14/2003 Ann Taylor to use ProfitLogic's markdown optimization 
solution to manage pricing of merchandise.

10/14/2003 Next-Generation Pervasive security model to define data 
management in mission-critical applications.

10/14/2003 Ameritas selects Information Builders as tts business 
intelligence standard.

10/13/2003 Call for Papers: International Workshop on Information 
Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM2004).

10/13/2003 Plumtree launches applications program and radical openness 
product strategy at Odyssey 2003.

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