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Book Contents

Ch. 8
Implementing Communications-Driven and Group Decision Support Systems

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Conclusions and Commentary

We are in the early stages of the process of accumulating knowledge about group support systems. We need to learn more about how CDSS and GDSS affect group meeting processes and outcomes. We are also observing how Communications-Driven DSS are changing organizations.

Group support systems succeed when people who do extra work to support the system are beneficiaries of the system. For example, the automatic meeting and scheduling feature of an electronic calendar is not always used. The immediate beneficiary of the system is often the manager or secretary who initiates a meeting. Group members must do additional work so they may resist using the application. The primary beneficiary of most project management applications is the project leader or manager. Other members in the project group must enter considerable information about their tasks and completion times. If team members are rewarded for entering information, the quantity and quality of information entered will increase over a period of time.

In order to have productive conversations among members of virtual teams, you need to create some kind of common understanding for the group. Group support systems succeed when managers and MIS staff adheres to social conventions. For example, in a group decision support system the explicit record of opposing positions may be politically unacceptable to some managers. If so, the information should not be recorded.

Group support systems succeed when their design is built around specific structured work procedures that do allow for exception handling and modification. For example, arrangements that are in the best interest of a group may not be compatible with the structure, procedures and processes imposed by the group support system. Unless the system is strongly supported by senior management the system will not be used because it is not compatible with the group's preferences and procedures.

Structural changes that are possible from improved information technologies are still somewhat difficult to anticipate. Managers must act to create changes; they cannot rely on circumstance and chance to create a new organization structure. Information technology facilitates structural changes and structural changes affect how and when information technology can and will be used in an organization. Aligning organization structures with information technologies is a reasonable but difficult goal. The different types of structural responses to information technologies that have been discussed, the community, the federation, the mobile, and the skyscraper, can help planners and organization theorists design organizations that are aligned with group support systems and information technologies. Often, the most difficult issue facing business strategists when they attempt to align an organization to information technologies is identifying new, interesting, or innovative structures worth implementing.

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