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Book Contents

Ch. 1
Supporting Business Decision-Making

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DSS versus MIS

How does a Decision Support System differ from a Management Information System? Letís begin drawing distinctions between these two terms by first examining the concepts Management Information System (MIS) and Information System (IS). Many authors have used the term MIS to describe a broad, general category of information systems. Also, MIS and IS are used interchangeably to describe a functional department in companies and organizations responsible for managing information systems and technology. A number of computing jobs are grouped together under the heading of MIS or IS professionals. Finally, the term Management Information Systems or MIS is used to identify an academic major and an area of scholarly inquiry in universities.

In the 1970s, an MIS generated periodic management reports. Today, managers use Data-Driven Decision Support Systems to meet their management reporting needs. When the term Management Information System is defined narrowly it refers to a management reporting system that provides periodic, structured paper-based reports. In contrast, Data-Driven DSS are intended to be interactive, real-time systems that are responsive to unplanned as well as planned information requests and reporting needs. Model-Driven DSS are usually focused on modeling a specific decision or a set of related decisions (cf., Power, 1997).

Decision Support Systems should be defined as a broad category of analytical management information systems. DSS provide managers more control of their data, access to analytical tools, and capabilities for consulting and interacting with a distributed group of staff. An enterprise-wide Decision Support System is linked to a large data warehouse and serves many managers within one company. Also, a DSS is defined as an interactive system in a networked environment that helps a targeted group of managers make decisions. The primary focus in the following discussion is on various types of Decision Support Systems. The term MIS will be used sparingly and usually it will broadly refer to any information system that assists or supports managers in their various tasks.

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