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Book Contents

Ch. 1
Supporting Business Decision-Making

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Examples of DSS Applications

Hundreds of DSS applications are described in professional journals like Interfaces and in Information Systems trade publications like Information Week (http://www.informationweek.com). Many DSS case studies are also available on the World-Wide Web. This section discusses various Decision Support Systems examples and a number of taxonomies of DSS.

One of the long-standing conclusions from reading DSS case studies is that what managers, vendors and consultants call DSS can "take on many different forms and can be used in many different ways (Alter, 1980, p. 71)." DSS vary in many ways. They differ in terms of who uses a specific system, that is some DSS are used by actual decision makers and some are used by intermediaries like marketing analysts or financial analysts. Some DSS focus on data, some on models and some on communications. DSS also differ in scope, some DSS are intended for one "primary" user and used "stand-alone" for analysis and others are intended for many users in an organization.

A few examples show the wide variety of DSS applications. Major airlines have DSS used by analysts for many tasks including pricing and route selection. Many companies have DSS that aid in corporate planning and forecasting. Specialists often use these DSS that focus on financial and simulation models. Investment evaluation and support systems are increasingly common. Frito-Lay has a DSS that aids in pricing, advertising, and promotion. Route salesmen use hand-held computers to support decision making activities. Many manufacturing companies use Manufacturing Resources Planning (MRP) software. This specific operational level DSS supports master production scheduling, purchasing, and materials requirements planning. More recent MRP systems support "what-if" analysis and simulation capabilities. Monsanto, FedEx and most transportation companies use DSS for scheduling trucks, airplanes and ships. The Coast Guard uses a DSS for procurement decisions. Companies like Wal-Mart have large data warehouses and use data mining software. Business Intelligence and Knowledge Management Systems are increasingly common. On the World-Wide Web one can find DSS that help track and manage stock portfolios, choose stocks, plan trips, and suggest gifts. DSS support distributed decision activities using groupware and a corporate intranet.

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