Gaining Competitive Advantage with DSS
Computers have become indispensable tools in companies, government offices and in most other organizations. For many managers computers are recognized and accepted as necessary productivity tools. Despite the general and widespread acceptance of computers and their important role in organizations, the business computing revolution is far from complete. If anything, the pace of technology change is speeding up, not slowing down and the expectations for computers and information systems in companies continues to expand and grow. So what are the trends associated with information technology that may have a major impact on the design and development of Decision Support Systems? In my opinion:
- The World-Wide Web is forcing the convergence of major media like newspapers, computerized information services and television. Having a Web site and an E-mail address is common and in many cases necessary for companies and individuals. But the Web is much more and it is strategically important to companies. The Web supports internal and external global collaboration for managers. Also, combining knowledge management and corporate portals can help managers gather, manage, share, and use information.
- Network technologies are very important and mission critical in most companies. Computing and network technologies have become more integrated and more powerful. The speed and capacity of networks is increasing. Access to fast network connections is becoming widespread and less costly. An open architectural view of networking and computing is dominating IS/IT thinking and the development of DSS. Decision support applications are potentially 7x24 for many companies; if the network is down, decisions won't be made.
- Linux is becoming an important operating system in corporations. Major vendors like IBM and Oracle are supporting open source software like Linux and the Apache Web server. These vendors are porting their applications to the Linux operating system. This trend is negatively impacting the use of proprietary UNIX and Microsoft Windows 2000 software as the corporate server environments of choice. Linux is a viable alternative operating system for building enterprise-wide decision support systems.
- Electronic commerce is becoming widely accepted by both managers and customers. Business-to-Business and Business-to-Consumer e-commerce can be profitable. DSS can help managers accomplish this goal.
- The Web is promoting new models of business cooperation, including extranets, Inter-Organizational DSS and shared computing resources. For example, inter-organizational and supply chain decision support applications can be outsourced and hosted by application service providers.
- Handheld computing is gaining greater acceptance and the use of handhelds by managers and other employees will increase. Wireless Web devices are expected to outnumber wired devices in the next few years. Handhelds support distributed data collection for Data-Driven DSS, expanded Communications-Driven DSS and distributed decision-making.
- Data-Driven DSS, especially analytical databases and data warehouses, are needed in companies and should become common. For example, clickstream and other emerging Webhousing tools should help companies analyze and profit from the customer data stored in Web logs.
This list of trends is incomplete and dated even as it is written. Seizing opportunities to build innovative DSS involves continuously monitoring technology trends and having the courage to "think outside of the box". The phrase about "boxes" and "thinking" is already trite but the need to innovate remains if a company is to gain a competitive advantage from building a decision support system.
This page was last updated 01/26/2001.