What is currently possible with Communications-Driven DSS?
For more than a week, I tried to use Communication and
Information Technologies to coordinate my teaching activities and
manage DSSResources.COM from various Internet connections in Hong Kong.
DSSResources.COM is a "virtual" organization with a lot of outsourced
tasks so I thought managing those relations would be an easier task than
coordinating my teaching. Both tasks are difficult. I have had both
failures and successes.
The 13 hour time difference has been a special challenge that I'm still
adapting too. It is currently 9:30 p.m. on Sunday evening in Hong Kong
and 8:30 a.m. in Cedar Falls, Iowa (home base for DSSResources.COM). I
can publish this issue of DSS News from here in Hong Kong or I can route
this column back to Cedar Falls for publication in 6-8 hours. The main
advantage of publishing it myself using the Web interface at Topica.com
is that less coordination will be required.
Task coordination seems to suffer the most with asynchronous
communication. Also, somehow I always feel ahead of or behind in the
business decision-making process. I have had a few chat sessions with
the Cedar Falls group and the chat technology is better for decision
support because of the question/answer dialog that is possible. A good
chat session seems to resolve more issues than 3 or 4 back and forth
I've also learned that Web-based email is crucial for maintaining
contact. I've had some emails to DSSResources.COM summarized and
forwarded because the email@example.com account can't be read from
a Web client and that "relay" approach has been totally unacceptable.
Also, I have been using the DSSResources.COM Bulletin Board and a
course Bulletin Board. A Bulletin Board provides a record of
discussions, but it seems agonizingly slow for all but the most complex
discussion of issues and decision alternatives. Any spontaneity seems to
quickly get lost or defused.
I have even had to resort to an occasional phone call to personalize my
long distance discussions and interactions. All in all, the current
technologies have not provided me with very satisfying management
Today, I was lecturing about using Microsoft NetMeeting for Decision
Support in a face-to-face MBA MIS class session here in Hong Kong. I
wish I could have told my students the NetMeeting software (especially
the video) worked over the Internet. Sadly that is not currently the
reality of our networks. Instead, I had to show them screen shots made
using a high speed LAN. I have discovered as have many others how much
we really need Interactive Video, whiteboards, and screening sharing for
effective Global collaboration and decision support.