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Book Contents

Ch. 11
Building Web-Based and Inter-Organizational Decision Support Systems

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Web-Based DSS

Web-Based DSS have reduced technological barriers and made it easier and less costly to make decision-relevant information available to managers and staff users in geographically distributed locations. Because of the World-Wide Web infrastructure, Enterprise-Wide DSS can now be implemented in geographically dispersed companies and to geographically dispersed stakeholders including suppliers and customers at a relatively low cost. Using Web-Based DSS, organizations can provide DSS capability to managers over an intranet, to customers and suppliers over an extranet or to any stakeholder over the global Internet.

The Web has increased access to DSS and it should increase the use of a well-designed DSS in a company. Using a Web infrastructure for building DSS improves the rapid dissemination of "best practices" analysis and decision making frameworks and it should promote more consistent decision making on repetitive decision tasks across a geographically distributed organization. The Web also provides a way to manage a company's knowledge repository and to bring knowledge resources into the decision making process. One can hope that Web-Based delivery of DSS capabilities will promote and encourage ongoing improvements in decision making processes.

Also, the Web can reduce some of the problems associated with the competing "thick client" enterprise-wide DSS design where special software needs to be installed on a manager's computer. Web-Based DSS should reduce IT management and support costs and end user training costs.

With many Web-Based DSS and OLAP products, managers with a browser and access to a Web-Based DSS have the same type of ad-hoc reporting and interactive data analysis capability as that provided by "thick client" on-line analytical processing (OLAP) tools. Web technology is and will continue to change the way organizations deliver all types of documents and data.

What are the potential problems with Web-Based DSS? First, user expectations may be unrealistic, especially in terms of how much information they want to be able to access from the Web. Second, there may be technical implementation problems especially in terms of peak demand and load problems. Third, it is costly to train decision support content providers and to provide them with tools and technical assistance. Fourth, the continuing "browser wars" between Microsoft and Netscape are also a potential problem. Fifth, Web-Based DSS create additional security concerns. Finally, using the Web for decision support may result in the accumulation of obsolete materials, especially management reports and documents.

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