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Book Contents

Ch. 1
Supporting Business Decision-Making

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Three Secondary Dimensions of DSS

Targeted Users: Inter-Organizational or Intra-Organizational DSS

A relatively new category of DSS made possible by new technologies and the rapid growth of the public Internet is Inter-Organizational DSS. These DSS serve a company's customers or suppliers. The public Internet is creating communication links for many types of inter-organizational systems, including DSS. An Inter-Organizational DSS provides stakeholders with access to a company’s intranet and authority or privileges to use specific DSS capabilities. Companies can make a Data-Driven DSS available to suppliers or a Model-Driven DSS available to customers to design a product or choose a product. Most DSS are Intra-Organizational DSS that are designed for use by individuals in a company as "stand-alone DSS" or for use by a group of managers in a company as a Group or Enterprise-Wide DSS. The prefix "intra" means the DSS is used within a specific organization and "inter" means the DSS is used more widely.

Purpose: Function-Specific or General Purpose DSS

Many DSS are designed to support specific business functions or types of businesses and industries. We can call such DSS function-specific or industry-specific DSS. A Function-Specific DSS like a budgeting system may be purchased from a vendor or customized in-house using a more general-purpose development package. Vendor developed or "off-the-shelf" DSS support functional areas of a business like marketing or finance; some DSS products are designed to support decision tasks in a specific industry like a crew scheduling DSS for an airline. A task-specific DSS has an important purpose in solving a routine or recurring decision task. Function or task-specific DSS can be further classified and understood in terms of the dominant DSS component, that is as a Model-Driven, Data-Driven or Suggestion DSS. A function or task-specific DSS holds and derives knowledge relevant for a decision about some function that an organization performs (e.g., a marketing function or a production function). This type of DSS is categorized by purpose; Function-Specific DSS help a person or group accomplish a specific decision task. General-purpose DSS software helps support broad tasks like project management, decision analysis, or business planning.

Enabling Technology: Web-Based DSS

Finally, all of the above types of DSS can be implemented using Web technologies and we can call these systems Web-Based DSS. A Web-Based DSS is a computerized system that delivers decision support information or decision support tools to a manager or business analyst using a "thin-client" Web browser like Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer. The computer server that is hosting the DSS application is linked to the user's computer by a network with the TCP/IP protocol. In many companies, a Web-Based DSS is synonymous with an intranet or Enterprise-Wide DSS. A company intranet is supporting a large group of managers using Web browsers in a networked environment. Managers often have Web access to a data warehouse as part of a DSS architecture. Today Web technologies are the primary tools used to create Inter-Organizational DSS that support the decision-making of customers and suppliers.

Web or Internet technologies are the leading edge for building DSS, but some Intra-Organizational DSS will continue to be built using traditional programming languages or fourth generation languages or application development tools using "thick-client" or mainframe enabling technologies.

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