DSS News 
                    D. J. Power, Editor 
             October 24, 2004 -- Vol. 5, No. 22
         A Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM 


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* Ask Dan! - What is the status of the DSS FAQ?
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Ask Dan!

What is the status of the DSS FAQ?
by Dan Power

What is the DSS FAQ? What is Ask Dan? Who is Ask Dan? Why do you write
Ask Dan? These are all frequently asked questions in my email and on
the Free DSS Forum. Ask Dan! is the name of my bi-weekly column about
Decision Support Systems that appears in DSS News.  Decision Support
Systems News (DSS News) is a bi-weekly newsletter from DSSResources.COM
about Decision Support Systems, including Data-Driven DSS for business
intelligence, Model-Driven DSS, Group DSS, Knowledge-Driven DSS, and
Spreadsheet-based and Web-based DSS. 

In the early days of DSSResources.COM, my email and postings on the DSS
bulletin board often included provocative questions about DSS mixed in
with more fundamental questions from newcomers to the study of Decision
Support Systems.  When DSS News was launched using Topica on May 10,
2000, I included a short commentary on DSS Types along with a list of
news headlines and a "What's New" list. Starting with the third issue
of DSS News (vol. 1, no. 3, June 6, 2000) my comments were labeled as
the Ask Dan! column.  The first Ask Dan! web page was created at
DSSResources.COM in June 2001. The smiling, friendly Ask Dan!
caricature was launched with a major update of the Ask Dan! DSS FAQ web
page in February 2002.  Since May 2000, ninety seven (97) Ask Dan!
columns have appeared in DSS News.

What is a FAQ? Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) documents were common
in Usenet News groups in the late 1990s.  The purpose of a FAQ was to
reduce the "newbie" postings and to codify and share the knowledge and
expertise of the group members. "Newbies" or newcomers are common in
all knowledge areas and basic or fundamental questions need to be
answered for those who are newcomers to a specialty area.  A FAQ
document serves that purpose. Although one still finds many FAQs on the
Web and News groups still exist, Websites now provide an alternative
means of maintaining and sharing such documents and the general
knowledge about a specific topic or content area. 

Organizing a FAQ document is always a challenge.  On the Web one can
have alternative indexes of questions and then hyperlink to the
appropriate "answer".  That approach is not possible in a linear,
printed document like a book.  One approach in printed FAQs and on Web
lists has been to list the frequently asked questions in alphabetical
order and then let readers pick and choose the answers that were
relevant to their immediate knowledge needs. This approach is
straightforward and has the benefit of simplicity.  The main
disadvantage is that the reader receives no guidance about how
questions are related and the document is primarily for reference.
Another approach is to organize the frequently asked questions into
meaningful categories so that it makes more sense to read the FAQ from
beginning to end. This categorization approach adds value for the
newcomer, but makes the document less valuable as a reference for more
knowledgeable readers.  A secondary index of questions 
 in alphabetical order can however supplement the "look and find" use
of the FAQ.  Also, because we do not all state our questions in the
same way using the same words, multiple indexes are usually needed to
help us find the most appropriate answer to what we really want to
know.  So a traditional keyword index is usually an important component
of a FAQ web page or a static book of frequently asked questions. 

Most FAQs evolve and expand as new or different questions are posted to
a News group or Web Bulletin Board and discussion and comments follow.
This exciting, dynamic nature of knowledge sharing leads to periodic
updating of answers and a new version of a FAQ document.  As knowledge
categories evolve, FAQs are also sometimes reorganized and questions
may be reworded or eliminated from a FAQ.  Also, answers to questions
need to be periodically reviewed and some answers need to be revised.

As we approach the milestone of 100 Ask Dan! columns and the end of
2004 and hence the end of Volume 5 of DSS News, it is timely to review
the Ask Dan! DSS FAQ and formalize and improve the knowledge base.
Currently, the Ask Dan! DSS FAQ page has an index of keywords and an
alphabetical list of questions with hyperlinks to the answers.  One
cannot "skim" the answers or really read the FAQ document.  Also, the
FAQ is not organized into categories.  The plan is to remedy these
limitations and enhance the Ask Dan! DSS FAQ. 

In recent weeks, I have made an initial attempt to categorize the
current frequently asked questions into 8 categories. The categories
include: Decision Support Foundations, Decision Support Theory,
Building Decision Support Systems, Communications-Driven, Group and
Knowledge-Driven DSS, Data-Driven and Document-Driven DSS, Model-Driven
DSS, Decision Support Systems Applications, and Evaluating Decision
Support System Projects. The categories and 91 current questions are
included below in an appendix. These categories will be used in a new
database of Ask Dan! questions and answers.  We are slowly migrating
DSSResources.COM to a mySQL and PHP dynamic site and Ask Dan! is the
next content feature that will be migrated.  DSSResources.COM
subscribers will then have more ways to display and search the DSS FAQ.

We at DSSResources.COM are also investigating a printed version of the
Ask Dan! DSS FAQ. We are considering publishing the book with iUniverse
(  We realize this will be a niche, specialty
book.  Readers of DSS News and visitors to DSSResources.COM would be
the primary, target audience.  Given that the content will remain at
DSSResources.COM, we want to retain all rights to the content. Given
our target audience, we want low cost print-on-demand publishing of a
trade paperback and we want to have an ebook available. Currently, we
are discussing how to organize a printed DSS FAQ.  If you have
experience with iUniverse or if you have comments or suggestions for
the Ask Dan! FAQ or book project, please email me, 


Appendix of DSS FAQ categories

I. Decision Support Foundations
1. Are Decision Support Systems really analytic applications or are
analytic applications really Decision Support Systems?  
2. Are there substitutes for computerized decision support?  
3. Can DSS and Decision Support technologies help reduce the threat of
4. Can DSS improve state government tax revenue projections?  
5. How can one create a Decision Support function, especially to
provide executive level information?   
6. How does a Web-based DSS differ from a Web-enabled DSS? 
7. How does the job of a DSS Analyst differ from that of a Decision
Support Analyst? 
8. What are Analytical Information Systems? 
9. What are the types of DSS? 
10. What is a DSS?
11. What is a Planning Support System?
12. What is the expanded DSS framework? 
13. What is your analysis of the history and current status of DSS?
14. What is decision automation?
II. Decision Support Theory
1. Can using a DSS have unintended negative consequences?
2. How has and will Moore's Law impact computerized decision support? 
3. How do decision-making models relate to the design and use of DSS?
4. How does planning differ from decision-making?
5. Is DSS or Decision Support a core concept in Information Systems? 
6. Is there a theory of Decision Support Systems?
7. Is there an "information culture" that encourages building Decision
Support Systems?  
8. What are the characteristics of a Decision Support System? 
9. What are the "hot" DSS research topics?  
10. What do managers need to know about DSS? 
11. What do managers need to know about IS/IT, MIS and DSS? 
12. What factors indicate a special study is more appropriate than a
13. What is an example of a decision process?   
14. What is the difference between knowledge management and decision
15. What is the technology adoption curve? Is it relevant to DSS?
16. What is the difference between a DSS and a DSS generator?

III. Building Decision Support Systems
1. How can we provide Web access to a Data Warehouse and DSS database? 
2. Is there a relationship between Decision Support Systems (DSS) and
Business Activity Monitoring (BAM)?
3. What are decision support technology trends?
4. What companies have gained a competitive advantage by building a
5. What DSS interface design is "best" for eliciting values?
6. What is real-time decision support? 
7. What is the actual usage of DSS?
8. What is the relation between Design Science and building DSS?
9. What kind of DSS does Mr. X need?
10. What type of DSS is X? 
11. When is "real-time" decision support desirable and needed?
12. Do DSS builders assume their targeted users are rational thinkers?

IV. Communications-Driven, Group and Knowledge-Driven DSS
1. What are the main differences between GDSS and Groupware?
2. What is a Group Decision Support System (GDSS)? How do GDSS work?
3. What is currently possible with Communications-Driven DSS?
4. What is data mining and how is it related to DSS?
5. What is the relationship between DSS and Expert Systems? 
6. What is the "true story" about using data mining to identify a
relation between sales of beer and diapers?           

V. Data-Driven and Document-Driven DSS
1. Does data modeling differ for a Data-Driven DSS?  
2. How does a document management system differ from a document-driven
3. Is a Data Warehouse a DSS?
4. What Data Warehouse software and configurations are used in
5. What do I need to know about Data Warehousing/OLAP?   
6. What is a star schema? How does a snowflake schema differ from a
star schema?
7. What is business intelligence? 
8. What is ETL software and how is it related to DSS?  
9. Where can I find information about KPIs for building DSS in
different industries?   

VI. Model-Driven DSS
1. Are decision markets a useful decision support tool? 
2. How can behavioral models be used for decision support?  
3. How can simulation be used for decision support?
4. Is ETL software needed to build a model-driven DSS?
5. What are the main types or categories of decision models used in DSS
model base software?
6. What are the major spreadsheet programs?
7. What is a good replacement for models built using IFPS? 
8. What is a Spreadsheet-based DSS? 
9. What is the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP)? 
10. What is/was IFPS?   
11.  Who are the major vendors of Excel add-in programs for building
model-driven DSS?  

VII. Decision Support Systems Applications
1. Are there Decision Support Systems for new product management?  
2. Are there decision support tools for Competitive Intelligence (CI)
3. How can computerized decision support help in crisis situations? 
4. How can DSS help implement Basel II?
5. Is it feasible to track all visitors to the United States and then
build a Data-driven DSS?  
6. Is tax preparation software an example of a DSS? 
7. What are some examples of web-based DSS? 
8. What is a cost estimation DSS?
9. What is active enterprise financial planning?
10. What is the potential size of the NSEERS database?
11. What is the status of Pal Mickey? 
12. Where can I download a DSS demo?
13. Where can I find DSS related to civil engineering?  
14. Why are transportation problems popular applications for DSS?
VIII. Evaluating Decision Support System Projects
1. Can using a DSS have unintended negative consequences?   
2. Are there any evaluations of various generic DSS packages?  
3. Is it advantageous to outsource development and operation of
Decision Support Systems? 
4. What are major research needs and questions related to building and
using model-driven DSS? 
5. What are the achievements, trends and challenges for Decision
Support Systems (DSS)?
6. What criteria should be used for evaluating DSS software packages?
7. What is advanced or next generation Decision Support?  
8. What is the difference between formative and summative DSS
9. What vendors dominate the DSS product space?  


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DSS News - October 11 to October 22, 2004
Read them at DSSResources.COM and search the DSS News Archive

10/21/2004 Analytical Graphics (AGI) offers new interactive freeware.

10/21/2004 LexisNexis(R) enables research for the 'mobile lawyer' with
expanded applications for BlackBerry(R).

10/21/2004 DefenseWeb awarded contract to extend its online meeting
management system to all Air Force bases nationwide.

10/20/2004 Lockheed Martin forms strong industry team for Air
Operations Center lead systems integrator program.

10/20/2004 One of world's largest banking projects reaches milestone.

10/19/2004 Manugistics showcases new price optimization solution for
the Airline Industry.

10/18/2004 Harbourton Mortgage selects Portellus to provide web-based
loan origination, business rules management systems.

10/18/2004 Manugistics solutions improve passenger demand forecast
accuracy for UK client, Great North Eastern Railway.

10/18/2004 helps Muzak tune in to CRM success for 400

10/18/2004 Kronos unveils Kronos for Retail including advanced retail
scheduling solution.

10/18/2004 Prescient powers new product introductions, promotions and
lifecycle management for consumer products industry.

10/14/2004 Business Objects begins global rollout of BusinessObjects 11

10/13/2004 McDonald's Europe confirms successful implementation of
Manugistics' advanced forecasting and replenishment solutions.

10/13/2004 Information Builders at the forefront of operational BI,
extending the power of decision-making across the enterprise.

10/13/2004 Wal-Mart expands its Teradata Warehouse to optimize
decision-support capabilities.

10/13/2004 District of Columbia selects ILOG JRules for city's human
services modernization program.

10/12/2004 Hummingbird to provide enhanced Lotus Notes integration for
end-to-end enterprise content management and compliance.

10/12/2004 Capco white paper details the emerging crisis in U.S.
banking profitability.

10/12/2004 Fair Isaac recognized as the industry leader in the analytic
applications market as importance of decision automation grows.

10/11/2004 DGI begins global deployment of CoBRA to US Marine Corps.

10/11/2004 Teradata first to provide breakthrough business-intelligence
capability from a centralized data warehouse.

10/11/2004 SGI introduces first Linux-based high-performance visual
computing system.

10/11/2004 Wyse and Flo Healthcare team to deliver mobile thin
solutions to healthcare organizations.

10/11/2004 Oracle advances corporate performance management with
release of Oracle(R) Enterprise Planning and Budgeting.

10/11/2004 SYSPRO offers 'Executive Dashboard' with SYSPRO

10/11/2004 PeopleSoft announces new sales and operations planning


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