How does a Web-based DSS differ from a Web-enabled DSS?

In 1998, I noted that "when vendors propose a Web-based DSS they are referring to a computerized system that delivers decision support information or decision support tools to a manager or business analyst using a 'thin client' Web browser". I still often use the term Web-based DSS in such a broad, all-inclusive fashion, but vendors and MIS practioners are making some distinctions about the technology platform used to deliver decision support that need to be noted. Most notably the phrase "Web-enabled" has crept into the DSS lexicon. It is important to understand how a Web-based DSS differs from a Web-enabled DSS.

To highlight the difference in a simple, straightforward manner, I'd say the enabling technology differs. As I've noted previously,"When the enabling technology used to build a DSS is the Internet and Web, it seems appropriate to call the system a Web-based DSS. (Power, 2000)". Web-based should mean the entire application is implemented using Web technologies including a Web server, HTML, CGI, and possibly database products like Oracle 9i or SQL server; Web-enabled means key parts of an application like a database remain on a legacy system, but the application can be accessed from a Web technology component and displayed in a browser.

Some legacy DSS can be Web-enabled much faster and at a much lower cost than would be involved if the DSS was redeveloped using Web technologies. Also, many of the benefits of a Web-based DSS can also result from a Web-enabled DSS. So a Web-enabled DSS may be the best choice for making an existing DSS more widely available.

Web technologies can be used to implement any category of DSS including communications-driven, data-driven, document-driven, knowledge-driven, and model-driven DSS. At one point, most systems labeled "Web-based DSS" were linked to a data warehouse, but that is certainly no longer the case. A model-driven decision support simulation developed in Java can be delivered via the Web and so can a large HTML/XML text repository that is part of a document-driven DSS.

With a Web-based or a Web-enabled DSS no particular decision support software needs to be on the client computer. A Web browser and an Internet connection delivers the decision support functionality to the user.


Power, D. J. "Web-based Decision Support Systems". DSstar, August 18 and 25, 1998: Vol. 2, Nos. 33 and 34.

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

from Power, D., "Ask Dan! How does a Web-based DSS differ from a Web-enabled DSS?", DSS News, Vol. 3, No. 1, 01/06/02.