DSS News
                       by D. J. Power
              October 21, 2001 -- Vol. 2, No. 22
         A Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM

   Check the article by Steve Yager at DSSResources.COM


* DSS Wisdom
* Ask Dan! - What are Analytical Information Systems?
* What's New at DSSResources.COM
* DSS News Stories


This newsletter has more than 680 subscribers from 
50 countries. Please forward this newsletter to people interested in 
Decision Support Systems or suggest they visit DSSResources.COM.


Join us at IFIP WG 8.3 Conference on Decision Support Systems (DSS),
Decision Support in the Internet Age, Cork, Ireland,
July 4-7, 2002. Paper submissions due November 30, 2001. 


DSS Wisdom

Swanson and Culnan (1978) developed a framework for classifying 
document-based systems for management. They argued "An information 
system may be said to be a document-based system when it is based 
prmarily upon a store or collection of documents, rather than a store or 
collection of structured data.  In the case of document-based systems 
one may therefore speak in terms of a document base, rather than a 
database. A document is an ordered set of recorded visual images 
constructed so as to communicate as a whole." (p. 32)

Swanson, E. B., and M. J. Culnan,  "Document-Based Systems for 
Management Planning and Control: A Classification, Survey, and 
Assessment," MIS Quarterly, December 1978.


Ask Dan!

What are Analytical Information Systems?

In DSS News of February 11, 2001 (Vol. 2, No. 4), my Ask Dan! column 
discussed whether Decision Support and DSS is a core concept in 
Information Systems.  It is not surprising that my conclusion was that 
Decision Support is a core concept.  In that column, I also discussed 
the plan to create Special Interest Groups (SIGs) for the Association 
for Information Systems.  I asked people interested in forming an AIS 
SIG related to data management and decision support to contact me. Well 
the SIG creation process at AIS is continuing.  I have submitted a 
revised proposal for a SIG DSS to Dennis Galletta, University of 
Pittsburgh. Dennis is the VP of Member Services for AIS. We should know 
in mid-December if SIG DSS has been approved.

Six AIS members (Alter, Courtney, Sharda, Sugumaran, Turoff, and Watson) 
are joining me in proposing a Decision Support and Analytical 
Information Systems Special Interest Group called SIG DSS.  You can read 
the proposal at

Choosing a name for the SIG has been the subject of some debate. You may 
be asking what are the Analytical Information Systems in the proposed 
SIG name. Well, analytical information systems seems to be an evolving 
concept. Henry Morris, VP for Applications and Information Access at 
IDC, has focused on "analytic applications" since 1997. He identifies 
three major types of analytic applications: Financial/Business 
Performance Management, Operations/Production, and Customer Relationship 
Management (CRM). Morris (2001) argues "Analytic applications are 
specialized, supporting a structured business process, while business 
intelligence tools are generic, supporting ad hoc user inquiries."

Syntell ( claims to be the leader in analytical 
application packages.  I won't evaluate that claim, but the folks at 
Syntell argue "Managers have used many technologies over the past 30 
years to support their decision making process. Originally the emphasis 
was on making decisions based on reports of past performance. Then came 
the day of the Decision Support System which added a layer of control 
over what in particular the manager could see. Spread sheets became the 
rage when managers could use their personal models to interpret the raw 
data they were presented with to come up with the key indicators that 
they used to drive their decision process. Then OLAP tools became 
popular since they provided a spread sheet like environment but also 
allowed for higher degrees of delving into the layers of data." The 
people at Syntell see analytical applications as the next wave of 
Decision Support.  Simulation may finally become a "hot" tool for 
business decision support.

So are analytical or analytic applications and Analytical Information 
Systems only the latest buzzwords? Perhaps, but they are contemporary 
terms that may help reinvigorate research about improving decision 
support for managers.  

So what about including the term Business Intelligence in the SIG name? 
>From my perspective, I'd rather not ... Recently, Information Technology 
Toolbox ( announced a new online community for Business 
Intelligence.  According to the press release, "Business Intelligence 
(BI) is a segment of information technology that comprises software 
systems that enable finding, storing, organizing and supplying data. By 
incorporating BI technology into an information system, a company has 
the ability to utilize real-time analysis of information." Business 
Intelligence sounds great and I think it falls in the domain of the 
proposed SIG DSS ... but the term doesn't make much sense. How can and 
do technologies make a business or a manager intelligent? BI or 
"business intelligence" is my favorite IS/IT oxymoron. We're still 
struggling with the expectations of Decision Support Systems. Let's not 
make the problem worse by creating a SIG BI. It definitely seems 
preferable to discuss and study decision support and analytical 
information systems rather than "business intelligence".

Without a doubt we have major conceptual overlap problems related to 
terms associated with computerized decision support, we still have too 
much hype and terms that sound too good to be true. The term Analytical 
Information System seems like an appropriate term for software that 
supports real-time analysis of information on today's version of Charles 
Babbage's "analytical engine".

In general, Analytical Information System is a descriptor for a broad 
set of information systems that assist managers in performing analyses, 
based on tools like dimensional analysis (OLAP), simulation, 
optimization, quantitative models and statistics. There are other 
decision support applications that focus on collaboration, 
communication, knowledge and document management and information 
retrieval. So the proposed name of the SIG is Decision Support and 
Analytical Information Systems -- SIG DSS.

Morris, H., "Trends in Analytic Applications", DM Review, April 2001.


What's New at DSSResources.COM

10/21/2001 Updated DSS Vendor List.


DSS News Stories

10/17/2001 Microcell Telecom prepares for growth with Ascential's 
Information Asset Management Solution.

10/17/2001 Edwards Theatres uses ProClarity 4.0 to analyze key 
performance indicators driving business efficiency.

10/17/2001 Crystal Decisions Receives Certification from Balanced 
Scorecard Collaborative.

10/16/2001 Business Objects launches "Knowledge Exchange".

10/16/2001 Alphablox announced Alphablox 4, an infrastructure for 
developing InLine Analytic solutions.

10/15/2001 Brio Software unveils initiative and strategy map to maximize 
business performance.

10/11/2001 3M indicator measurement system to include hospital 
accreditation core measures.

10/11/2001 MapInfo announced participation in OpenLS intiative.

10/11/2001 BusinessGenetics to model governmental laws and regulations 
for National Forest Service.

10/09/2001 SAP and Crystal Decisions integrate formatted reports and 
information delivery through combined OEM and reseller agreement.

10/08/2001 New version of Hyperion Performance Scorecard measures and 
monitors business performance beyond the bottom line.

10/08/2001 Sybase online-billing-analysis software helps communications 
companies improve customer service.


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