Types of Decision Support Systems (DSS)

by Dan Power

Decision Support Systems (DSS) are a class of computerized information system that support decision-making activities. DSS are interactive computer-based systems and subsystems intended to help decision makers use communications technologies, data, documents, knowledge and/or models to complete decision process tasks.

A decision support system may present information graphically and may include an expert system or artificial intelligence (AI). It may be aimed at business executives or some other group of knowledge workers.

Typical information that a decision support application might gather and present would be, (a) Accessing all information assets, including legacy and relational data sources; (b) Comparative data figures; (c) Projected figures based on new data or assumptions; (d) Consequences of different decision alternatives, given past experience in a specific context.

There are a number of Decision Support Systems. These can be categorized into five types:

  • Communication-driven DSS
    Most communications-driven DSSs are targetted at internal teams, including partners. Its purpose are to help conduct a meeting, or for users to collaborate. The most common technology used to deploy the DSS is a web or client server. Examples: chats and instant messaging softwares, online collaboration and net-meeting systems.

  • Data-driven DSS
    Most data-driven DSSs are targeted at managers, staff and also product/service suppliers. It is used to query a database or data warehouse to seek specific answers for specific purposes. It is deployed via a main frame system, client/server link, or via the web. Examples: computer-based databases that have a query system to check (including the incorporation of data to add value to existing databases.

  • Document-driven DSS
    Document-driven DSSs are more common, targeted at a broad base of user groups. The purpose of such a DSS is to search web pages and find documents on a specific set of keywords or search terms. The usual technology used to set up such DSSs are via the web or a client/server system. Examples:

  • Knowledge-driven DSS:
    Knowledge-driven DSSs or 'knowledgebase' are they are known, are a catch-all category covering a broad range of systems covering users within the organization seting it up, but may also include others interacting with the organization - for example, consumers of a business. It is essentially used to provide management advice or to choose products/services. The typical deployment technology used to set up such systems could be slient/server systems, the web, or software runnung on stand-alone PCs.

  • Model-driven DSS
    Model-driven DSSs are complex systems that help analyse decisions or choose between different options. These are used by managers and staff members of a business, or people who interact with the organization, for a number of purposes depending on how the model is set up - scheduling, decision analyses etc. These DSSs can be deployed via software/hardware in stand-alone PCs, client/server systems, or the web.

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