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Book Contents

Ch. 1
Supporting Business Decision-Making

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      Brief Examples of DSS Implementations

      Advanced Scout

      IBM has prototyped software to help National Basketball Association (NBA) coaches and league officials organize and interpret the data collected at every game. Using software called Advanced Scout to prepare for a game, a coach can quickly review countless stats: shots attempted, shots blocked, assists made, personal fouls. But Advanced Scout can also detect patterns in these statistics that a coach may not have known about. Advanced Scout software provides an easy and meaningful way to process information. "It helps coaches easily mine through and analyze a lot of data and no computer training or data analysis background is required," says Dr. Inderpal Bhandari, computer scientist at IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center. Patterns found through analysis are linked to the video of the game. Coaches can look at just those clips that make up an interesting pattern (check http://www.research.ibm.com/scout/works.html).

      BCA DSS (Base Closure and Analysis DSS)

      An application called the Base Closure and Analysis DSS provided the U.S. Air Force with a robust methodology and common framework for analyzing the impact of various base closure scenarios. The software used a multi-layer, hierarchical filtering process to evaluate the relative impact of closing each base. Bases that posed minimum strategic, operational, social, and economic impact were placed at the top of the closure recommendation list. At any step, base closing committee members could review DSS-developed impact analyses to assist in determining which bases should be included in the next level of analysis. Using the DSS, the committee members could perform analyses using eight main criteria and 212 sub-criteria on which all bases were evaluated. These criteria, specified by DOD, focused on elements that impact operational effectiveness, including such items as alternate airfield availability, weather data, and facility infrastructure capacity (from URL http://www.strategy.com/success/msi_saf1.htm).

      FedEx Business Intelligence System

      Federal Express, based in Memphis, Tenn., rolled out Business Intelligence capabilities to a global base of 700 end-users. FedEx created a central, integrated data warehouse hub, which provides Web-based, real-time access to financial and logistical information necessary for planning and decision-making. The solution, from Pinnacle Solutions Inc., was deployed on a group of Dell PowerEdge servers running Windows NT Server 4.0. Data is stored in an Oracle database, and analytical queries are run against a separate server running Hyperion Essbase, an online analytical processing (OLAP) engine. Most access is from browsers over the corporate intranet, along with some standard client/server deployments using Excel spreadsheets.

      ShopKo

      In 1997, ShopKo developed a "Merchandise Data Warehouse." ShopKo stores carry 200,000 stock units of data. This results in massive amounts of data. Sales statistics on every stock unit in every store is collected daily and stored in a data warehouse. This central data repository is used in analysis, querying, and decision-making. The main strategy in developing the DSS tool was to allow ShopKo associates to query a common business repository for identification and analysis of business opportunities and exceptions. With this strategy, ShopKo stores are able carry the right merchandise at the right time in the right place while remaining current with changing demands due to seasons, trends, etc. Some of the important goals of this project were: improvement of sales analysis, understanding of inventory levels, determining market trends, and improvement of advertisement effectiveness. ShopKo extended its DSS capabilities to its store units by using a Web-based DSS.

      Y2K GroupSystems Online

      During the week leading up to and immediately following January 1, 2000, approximately 150 people participated in the crisis management activities 24 hours a day, 7 days a week using GroupSystems OnLine. Representatives from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, C3I, JCS Staff, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the State Department and Legislative Affairs among others participated in crisis management sessions over a secure Intranet within the Pentagon known as the SIPRNET. Although major crises did not materialize during the course of the two-week period, some non-crisis events did occur that required internal action and decision making on the part of the Pentagon. GroupSystems OnLine was used to communicate information and it was used to provide input, discuss solutions and create reports of recommended action (cf., http://www.groupsystems.com).

      Questions for discussion of the case examples:

      1. Use the DSS framework to categorize the examples. What type of DSS was implemented?
      2. Does each DSS seem useful? Would you use the system?
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