DSS News
                       by D. J. Power
              April 8, 2001 -- Vol. 2, No. 8
         A Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM
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* DSS Wisdom
* Ask Dan! -- Is there an "information culture" that encourages building 
Decision Support Systems?
* What's New at DSSResources.COM
* DSS News Stories
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DSS Wisdom
Alvin Toffler (1970) argued "Information must flow faster than ever 
before.  At the same time, rapid change, by increasing the number of 
novel, unexpected problems, increases the amount of information needed.  
It takes more information to cope with a novel problem than one we have 
solved a dozen or a hundred times before.  It is this combined demand 
for more information at faster speeds that is now undermining the great 
vertical hierarchies so typical of bureaucracy." (p. 121)
Toffler, Alvin., Future Shock, New York: Random House, 1970.
Is there an "information culture" that encourages building Decision 
Support Systems?
Let's assume there is such a phenomenon as an "information culture". 
Culture refers to shared assumptions, beliefs and ideas
of a group. Information culture would then refer to shared assumptions, 
beliefs and ideas about obtaining, processing, sharing and using 
information in decision-making and organizational management.
Rick Tanler, who founded Information Advantage, identified
four different information cultures. In a Decision Wire column titled 
"Becoming the Competitor All Others Fear", Tanler stated "The four 
information cultures are Spectator (observes changes within their 
market); Competitor (initiates change within their market); Predator 
(attacks market principles); and Information Anarchy (the dysfunctional 
information culture)."
Tanler noted in that same column that "Almost every data warehouse is 
justified to senior management in terms of the competitive advantages 
that will accrue to the enterprise if better information is available 
to decision-makers." Tanler argued the Competitor Culture will encourage 
managers to develop better information systems and that will lead to 
better decisions and better corporate performance. This conclusion is 
very optimistic ... and it assumes that initiating change always leads 
to positive outcomes.
Also, Tanler argued many companies have a Spectator Culture and
need to move to a Competitor Culture. Tanler believed the
"difference between the Spectator Culture and the Competitor Culture
is that the former focuses on decision-support (What information do
users need?) and the latter focuses on decision-implementation (What are 
users doing with the information?)." 
Tanler's four culture categories create a "buzzword" approach to 
organizational change. It sounds like he is really concerned about how 
to design systems rather than about culture.  Certainly we need to ask 
what are and what might users do with information and how can we better 
support their decision-making. Building a DSS is much more than asking 
potential users what information they need. Relying on managers to 
"divine" what information will be or is needed won't work; such an 
approach is much too passive to succeed.
Tanler noted we need to examine the "role of information within the 
context of the entire decision cycle." We need to understand what a 
decision cycle is to bring about this change. In the management and 
decision making literature, a decision cycle or process starts with the 
identification of an opportunity or recognition of a problem.  The cycle 
includes analysis and formulation of decision alternatives. The cycle 
also includes approval of a decision and communications and actions 
needed to implement the decision and measure its impact. 
Tanler argued the "objective is to compress the decision cycle". He
concluded that by "moving from a Spectator Culture to a Competitor 
Culture, an organization can make smarter decisions in shorter cycle 
times to ultimately become the competitor that all others fear."
Reducing the cycle time is a desirable goal, but in and of itself a
shorter decision cycle does not improve decision making and if decision 
support is provided inappropriately to reduce cycle time, then decisions 
can be negatively impacted and results will be much worse and not 
We need to maintain a humble attitude when our goal is to improve human 
decision behavior. Decision-making is as much art as science and we may 
be able to inform decision-making with facts and analysis. 
In my opinion, a positive information culture encourages active 
information use and recognizes that technology can help with a variety 
of decision tasks and can speed up the clerical side of those tasks, but 
that people remain the thinkers and decision makers who must assume 
responsibility for organizational actions.
Businesses aren't intelligent, people are. Decision support has to focus 
on helping managers make decisions. 
Well ... I didn't set out to critique Tanler's ideas on information
culture and successful implementation of technologies to support 
decision making, but in a general way this Ask Dan has done that. Let me 
know what you think of when you hear the term information culture ... Is 
there a proactive, decision support culture?
Tanler, Rick. "Becoming the Competitor All Others Fear", DecisionWire, 
Vol. 1, Issue 11, January 1999. 
What's New at DSSResources.COM
04/02/2001 Created Ask Dan! folder in Subscriber Zone for premium 
content questions. 
04/01/2001 Moved 7 JavaScript Decision Aids to the Subscriber Zone. 
03/30/2001 Published Power, D. J. "Tips for Choosing Enterprise-wide DSS 
Software". DSstar, The On-Line Executive Journal for Data-Intensive 
Decision Support, November 18, 1997: Vol. 1, No. 7. as a print-enabled 
PDF file in the Subscriber Zone.
03/30/2001 Published Power, D. J. "What is a DSS?". DSstar, The On-Line 
Executive Journal for Data-Intensive Decision Support, October 21, 1997: 
Vol. 1, No. 3. as a print-enabled PDF file in the Subscriber Zone.
03/29/2001 Published Power, D. J. " Web-based Decision Support Systems". 
DSstar, The On-Line Executive Journal for Data-Intensive Decision 
Support, August 18 and 25, 1998: Vol. 2, Nos. 33 and 34. as a 
print-enabled PDF file in the Subscriber Zone.
03/29/2001 Created DSS Articles - PDF Print Format page in the 
Subscriber Zone. 
03/28/2001 Published Power, D. J. "Justifying a Data Warehouse Project", 
Part I and II. DSstar, The On-Line Executive Journal for Data-Intensive 
Decision Support, February 3 and 10, 1998: Vol. 2, No. 5 and 6. as a 
print-enabled PDF file in the Subscriber Zone.
03/21/2001 Published Power, D., "Supporting Decision-Makers: An Expanded 
Framework", Informing Science eBook, June 2001. as a print-enabled PDF 
file in the Subscriber Zone. 
DSS News Stories - Mar. 26 to Apr. 6, 2001
04/06/2001 RER announced the release of MetrixND v. 2.6 software for 
short-term energy and price forecasting. 
04/06/2001 Frontline Group released KnowHow2, a Web-based organizational 
learning system.
04/05/2001 Information Builders, EDS, and the Pennsylvania State Police 
today announced the launch of the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) System 
Web site.
04/04/2001 Vite announced enhanced enterprise project management 
solution; it includes simulation software.
04/03/2001 Park City Group launched a new decision support product for 
supermarket operations.
04/02/2001 Leading Insurance company implements Versant's ODBMS for 
executive reporting and analysis application.
03/30/2001 NASA Ames Research Center installed the world's first 
512-Processor SGI Origin 3000 Series single system.
03/29/2001 U.are.U fingerprint recognition technology added to 
next-generation keyboard. 
03/28/2001 Crystal Decisions announced that it will provide business 
intelligence components for the iBaan Portal.
03/27/2001 Expertcity, Inc. announced 2-Way ScreenSharing support in its 
DesktopStreaming product. 
03/27/2001 Canon revamps global product quality analysis system with 
Informix Software's Red Brick Decision Server. 
03/27/2001 Anderson Trucking implemented BroadVision personalized 
information, logistics and e-business services.
03/26/2001 Tuttle Decision Systems announced FAS 133 solution for 
mortgage lenders.
Frost and Sullivan Business Intelligence Conference
One of the greatest challenges for companies today is consolidating 
information and analyzing the data from all divisions in order to make 
better decisions.
Learn how to cultivate and leverage your internal Business Intelligence 
sources at:
What: Frost & Sullivan's Eighth Annual Business Intelligence Conference 
and Exhibition East
When: April 23-26, 2001
Where: Wyndham Miami Beach Resort, Miami Beach, Florida
To review the conference agenda, or to access a brochure, please visit or contact Cara Battaglia,, or call (210) 348-1018.  Mention 
and qualify for 2-for-1 registration.
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