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Book Contents

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

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Conclusions about Web-Based and Inter-Organizational DSS

The World-Wide Web has created a major opportunity to deliver more quantitative and qualitative information to decision-makers. A Web architecture and networks permit Information Systems professionals to centralize and control information and yet easily distribute it in a timely manner to managers who need it. Also, intranets are providing many opportunities for securely delivering information from data warehouses and external databases to a manager's desktop in a format that permits and encourages frequent use and follow-on analysis.

The Web has not resolved all problems associated with building, developing and delivering Enterprise-Wide DSS and many questions about Web-Based DSS remain controversial. The following questions are still being debated, but I'll share my opinions. Can a Web-Based DSS provide a company with a competitive advantage? SOMETIMES, especially in knowledge-oriented businesses. Does a Web-Based DSS have significant cost advantages compared to other competing DSS technologies? USUALLY, especially in large-scale implementations where companies have multiple sites. Will a Web-Based DSS speed application deployment and increase access to both structured and unstructured data? YES, in most situations.

Will a Web-Based DSS improve decision-making? PERHAPS, I'm an optimist. Will Web-Based DSS provide a broader knowledge base for decision-making? YES, in most cases once the "knowledge" is on-line. Does Web access increase the value of a data warehouse? YES, if the data is meaningfully displayed and drill-down is available to decision makers.

Does a Web-Based DSS provide timely, user-friendly and secure distribution of business information? YES, if a good development product is selected and if the implementation is successful. Can a Web-Based Decision Support System be managed and maintained? YES, the tools for managing the Web server and Web content are maturing. Will information on a Company Web site expand in an uncontrolled manner? NO, not if a person manages the knowledge base. Will managers be able to locate what they need when they need it? PROBABLY, staff need to organize information in meaningful ways and search engines need to be available for unexpected information queries.

Does a Web-Based DSS help mobile managers, sales staff and customer support staff? YES, information access and analysis is much easier and more widely available. Does a Web-Based, Inter-Organizational DSS help customers and suppliers? YES, customers and suppliers can make better choices. Are Web-Based agents and alerts useful and practical? YES, if you understand what they are and how to use them. An alert or agent can help a busy manager stay informed about more key performance indicators.

The Web makes it possible to deploy a global Enterprise-Wide DSS. Will Web-Based DSS facilitate corporate growth? Improve productivity? and Improve profitability? YES, appropriately designed DSS can impact the corporate bottom-line.

Along with the Web-Based opportunities for building innovative DSS come new challenges. Managers must choose which Web technologies to use and decide how to deploy these new technologies. Also, managers must learn how to use Web and Internet technologies to really gain a competitive advantage. This means that to implement Web-Based and Inter-Organizational DSS we need to develop appropriate strategies and organizational structures, redesign business processes, integrate the technologies and associated information into decision-making processes, evaluate costs and benefits, and manage new types of business relationships.

The Web is the platform of choice and the new frontier for innovative Decision Support Systems. All of the Web DSS development environments have strengths and weaknesses, but the capabilities are increasing rapidly and the Web DSS user interfaces are impressive compared to those of only a few years ago. The concept of a Web portal provides a means to implement the different generic DSS into more complete management support systems than any built in mainframe or client/server environments. Decision Support Systems built using Web technologies will take on a new importance as accessible and useful tools for improving business decisions.

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