DSS News 
                   D. J. Power, Editor 
              January 4, 2004 -- Vol. 5, No. 1
         A Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM 


          Check the article by Ashley and Morrison 
       "Anticipatory Management" at DSSResources.COM


* Ask Dan! - What is the expanded DSS framework?
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Ask Dan!

What is the expanded DSS framework?
by Dan Power

Questions about various types of Decision Support Systems and the 
expanded DSS framework are common in my email. As many of you know, a 
generalized "DSS framework" with one primary dimension and 3 secondary 
dimensions is the conceptualization used at DSSResources.COM to organize 
what we have learned about decision support systems. According to 
Gruber, "A conceptualization is an abstract, simplified view of the 
world that we wish to represent for some purpose". In the jargon of 
knowledge management and AI, the expanded DSS framework is the 
"ontology" or specification mechanism for the DSSResources.COM knowledge 

When was your expanded DSS framework first published?  Starting in 1999 
the framework was used at DSSResources.COM. The expanded DSS framework 
was explained briefly in the first issue of DSS News, Vol. 1, No. 1, May 
10, 2000. In that initial newsletter I responded to a question asking 
what are the types of DSS. My 99 word response summarized the basics of 
the expanded DSS framework. At that time, DSS News only had a few 
hundred subscribers. 

In Spring 2000, I organized a technical mini-track on Model-Driven and 
Web-Based Decision Support Systems for AMCIS 2000. My overview paper 
briefly summarized the expanded framework. I presented the paper to a 
small group in a 5 pm session at the meeting. During the session, we 
squeezed 5 papers into an hour and a half. You can imagine that we 
didn't have much time to discuss my expanded framework. My friends, who 
were also presenters, were the primary audience -- Mark Isken (Oakland 
University), Peter Keenan (University College Dublin), and Vijayan 
Sugumaran and Mohan Tanniru (Oakland University).  My paper from the 
conference is still available on the Web.

The first detailed explanation of the expanded DSS framework was 
presented at the 2001 Informing Science meeting in Krakow, Poland. A 
paper titled "Supporting Decision-Makers: An Expanded Framework" was 
included in the conference e-book.  I choose that venue because I wanted 
to support Eli Cohen's innovative conference, Gordon Davis was a keynote 
speaker, and I wanted to visit Krakow. 

The framework was explained in detail in my 2002 book from 
Greenwood/Quorum titled "Decision Support Systems: Concepts and 
Resources for Managers". In late 2002, a book chapter that I wrote about 
categorizing DSS using the expanded framework was also published. 

So what is the expanded DSS framework? Let me quote from DSS News, Vol. 
1, No. 1:
"There are 5 generic types of DSS in terms of the dominant component of 
the Decision Support System. Also, I identify other types of DSS based 
on users, delivery and purpose. 

The five generic DSS are: 

  * Communications-Driven DSS
  * Data-Driven DSS
  * Document-Driven DSS 
  * Knowledge-Driven DSS
  * Model-Driven DSS

Group DSS are a hybrid of Communications-Driven and Model-Driven DSS. In 
terms of users, there are Inter-Organizational and Intra-Organizational 
DSS. In terms of delivery, there are Web-Based, LAN-Based, and 
Mainframe-Based DSS. Finally, in terms of purpose, there are function 
specific, industry specific and general purpose DSS."

What does "dominant component" mean?  The term component refers back to 
Ralph Sprague's traditional DSS framework with data and model 
components. What does it mean to say that a DSS derives it primary 
functionality from the dominant component?  By the late 1970s, 
data-oriented DSS were recognized as somehow different than 
model-oriented DSS, but as databases grew much larger in size, the 
differences in emphasis and functionality between these two types of DSS 
became more noticeable. In fact some consultants argued DSS primarily 
derived their functionality from providing users with capabilities to 
query and then generate reports from a data warehouse.  In 1997, Dhar and 
Stein called such systems data-driven DSS and reading their book helped 
clarify my thinking about Bill Inmon and Ralph Kimball's work on DSS in 
the early 1990s. Other technology developments in AI, networking and 
document storage were also broadening the DSS possibilities.

Are there "hybrid DSS" with more than one "dominant component"? For the 
past few years, I have stopped using the term "hybrid DSS". Others have 
used the term before me and on occassion I have used the term "hybrid" 
as a convenient, but imprecise way, to explain some complex DSS. After 
an email interchange with Steve Alter a few years ago, I stopped using 
the term. My current position is that it is more appropriate to identify 
and discuss decision support sub-systems when they exist, rather than 
refer to the DSS as a "hybrid".  Also in some situations it is 
reasonable to evaluate the need for including different types of 
decision support sub-systems into a more integrated DSS.

Are GDSS "hybrid DSS"? Are all GDSS communications-driven DSS? No! The 
targeted users of GDSS are an identifiable, interacting group so we can 
clearly identify that secondary dimension in the expanded framework. 
But, how one categorizes a GDSS on the primary dimension in the 
framework depends upon the design of the GDSS software.  If one is asking 
about a specific system like GroupSystems which was one of the early 
GDSS, then one must examine the dominant component in that system. I 
used GroupSystems a few times in the late 1980s and in retrospect the 
primary functionality came from computerizing heuristic and quantitative 
models for group use. A human facilitator managed the process and the 
communications component was not providing the dominant functionality. 
Even though the communications component made group use of the models 
possible, the decision support functionality came from aggregating 
opinions using a model. So today I would conclude that in terms of the 
primary dimension in the expanded DSS framework the GroupSystems 
software was a model-driven DSS; the purpose was generalized support of 
group decision making and the system was a DSS generator rather than a 
"specific" DSS; the intended users were a group of 5-25 decision makers 
who had an interest or stake in a specific important decision problem; 
and the enabling technology was a client-server technology in an IBM PC 
DOS computing environment. GroupSystems software computerized a 
heuristic, normative group process model similar to the Nominal Group 
Technique (cf., Delbecq, Van de Ven, and Gustafson, 1975).

Does the expanded framework replace the prior work by Alter, Sprague and 
others?  NO. The expanded DSS framework is an integration and 
generalization of prior frameworks that reflects changes in decision 
support practice and technological developments that have occurred in 
the past 25 years.

How did you develop the framework?  In retrospect, the expanded DSS 
framework evolved gradually while I was collecting and organizing 
resources for DSSResources.COM and while I was trying to reconcile what 
I observed happening in practice. For example, the early materials at 
DSSResources.COM referred to Suggestion DSS (Steve Alter's term) and 
Knowledge-based DSS (Klein and Methlie). In an attempt to create some 
consistency in the framework, the dominant component became the "driver" 
for providing functionality and all of the major categories were 
consistently named, for example model-driven DSS and knowledge-driven. I 
know some people still prefer terms like model-oriented or model-based 
and that's OK, but IMHO the expanded DSS framework provides a more 
useful and consistent naming convention and frame of reference for 
categorizing, investigating and building Decision Support Systems.

As always your comments and questions are welcomed.


Delbecq, A.L., A.H. Van de Ven, and D. H. Gustafson, Group Techniques 
for Program Planning. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, Inc., 1975.

Dhar, V. and R. Stein,  Intelligent Decision Support Methods: The 
Science of Knowledge,  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1997.

Gruber, T., "What is an Ontology?"

Power, D. J., Categorizing Decision Support Systems: A Multidimensional 
Approach, In Mora, M., G. Forgionne, and J. N. D. Gupta (Eds.), Decision 
Making Support Systems: Achievements and Challenges for the New Decade, 
Hershey, PA: Idea Group, 2002, pps. 20-27.

Power, D. J., Decision Support Systems: Concepts and Resources for 
Managers, Westport, CT: Greenwood/Quorum Books, 2002, ISBN:

Power, D. J. "Supporting Decision-Makers: An Expanded Framework." In 
Harriger, A. (Editor), 2001 Informing Science Conference e-book 
proceedings, Krakow, Poland, June 19-22, 2001, pp. 431-436,

Power, D. J. "Web-Based and Model-Driven Decision Support Systems: 
Concepts and Issues". AMCIS 2000, Americas Conference on Information 
Systems, Long Beach, California, August 10-13, 2000,


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What's New? at DSSResources.COM

01/03/2004 Posted Article by Ashley, W., and J. Morrison, "Anticipatory 
Management: Tools for Better Decision Making". Check the articles page.

01/03/2004 Rotated Guestbook, What's New, and did other changes 
associated with a new year.


DSS News - December 21, 2003 to January 4, 2004
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12/22/2003 Plans to deploy Business Process Automation functionality 
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12/21/2003 U.S. Air Force successfully launches upgraded GPS satellite 
built by Lockheed Martin.


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