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DSS: Decision Supporting Systems

1 August 2014

David Rozental

DSS: Decision Supporting System is a computerized information system that supports decision making processes in a business or organization. The system is meant to assist managers on the managerial, functional and strategic level in order to make ambiguous or somewhat ambiguous decisions, such as: decisions made in a setting of uncertainty, new decisions made by a manager without past experience with this situation, decisions that need to be made quickly or decisions that are made in a rapidly changing setting.

These systems include data and analytical models that enable discovering the behavioral principles in different environments, explaining different phenomena and predicting data analysis in environments in which there are nonlinear relations between variables.  The systems retrieve the gross data for its activity from other information systems installed in the organization and from other factors external to the organization. For example, they usually depend on financial data or news date retrieved straight from the portal websites such as the exchange rate and data concerning and changes in legislation. The system must act optimally in a dynamic, changing environment and there's a need for updating the system on an ongoing basis or changing the decision methods. Therefore, a DSS should excel in flexibility and interactivity.

The system supports the decision maker in the following ways:

  • Retrieving singular information items

  • Providing mechanisms for analyzing random data

  • Providing summaries of predefined data

  • Analyzing sensitivity and evaluating the results of suggested assumptions

  • Providing solutions.


What do we need this for?

DSSs assist managers in handling ambiguous situations or semi-ambiguous situations. They are characterized with high multidimensional analysis ability and as such assist managers in making different decisions. Most of the managerial work requires the ability to make decisions in high frequency concerning different subjects while limited by time and pressure. Examples for different activities that DSSs assist managers to perform include:

  • Searching for hidden patterns in large amounts of data

  • Focusing on relevant information in order to produce new information from existing data

  • Revealing trends and future behavior of clients

  • Addressing what-ifs

  • predicting clients' future behavior

  • Identifying potential markets

  • Forecasting occurrences and which populations will react similarly to different occurrences.

Furthermore, DSSs indirectly benefit the organization by:

  • Accelerating the decision making process.

  • Enhancing organizational control.

  • Encouraging the decision maker to conduct depth study and research.

  • Accelerating the organization's problem solving process.

  • Creating new evidence supporting the decision.

  • Gaining a competitive edge over competition.

  • Discovering new approaches to solve the problem.

  • Assisting in making the management processes automatic.


The connection to BI

Some scientists view Business intelligence as the heir to DSS. BI systems provide the user with the ability to retrieve information from a singular source or several sources. Furthermore, these systems enable retrieving the data in order to receive a report or graphic representation in a relatively easy manner and provide the user with the ability to perform multidimensional analysis. Furthermore, some perceive the implementation of BI as data oriented DSS groups. There are BI systems that include different processes such as internet network mining, data mining and statistical models.

While Business Intelligence is a category which includes a wide range of collection, analysis and storage implementations and technologies which provides access to information in order to assist firms to make better business decisions, a DSS is a applicable computer program which analyzes business information and presents so that its users can make better business decisions more easily.


Approaches to development and implementation

There is a theoretical possibility of constructing Decision Supporting Systems for every field of knowledge. One example of this is the clinical diagnosis CDSS: the Clinical Decision Support System. It is an interactive system meant to assist the doctor in reaching the correct diagnosis. These systems are a central subject in the field of Medical BI. In Israel, integrating DSSs into the health system is very common.

DSSs are extensively used in the world of business and management. EIS (Executive Information Systems) systems that were popular during the 80s and 90s of the previous century were replaced by EPM (Enterprise Performance Management) systems and the use of dashboards and horizontal toolbars. These systems enable quicker decision making, identifying negative trends and a better distribution of resources.


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