Decision Support Systems
The Uses, Pros And Cons

Uses of DSS

Being used by knowledge workers, it is possible to consider using decision support systems in any knowledge domain. In fact, they are so widespread that people don't consider that they are using DSS. The spreadsheet is a simple DSS that is very commonly used in many different situations!

When you use a search engine, you have used a DSS to organize a huge amount of information, in the form of text files, images and videos, in order to make your decision.

Here we have examples of more complex DSS and how they have been used in various contexts.

A DSS used in medicine is called a clinical DSS and, in fact, it is said that if used properly, clinical decision support systems have the potential to change the way medicine has been taught and practised.

Colorado State has used a DSS to provide information about floods and potential hazards throughout the State. It includes real-time weather conditions, local and county data about floods, as well as historical data, floodplain boundaries and much more.

Real estate investment companies typically use DSS to manage the day to day running of their businesses. Information about and from each property can be processed to give access to data across the enterprise that allows for not just day to day running but also for future planning.

Universities need to fill places every year. Too few students and they lose money and may lose funding the following year. Too many and they still lose money because they will have to bear the extra costs themselves. And, of course, they want the best students possible! And then there's the issue of predicting how many students will want to enrol in a particular course. Enter DSS used in central clearing houses...

DSS have been used to forecast the demand for water in particular areas. Using information about the local geography, historical information about water consumption in the area as well as prediction models, planners can predict and plan for future consumption needs in the area.

DSS have also been used in integrating weather conditions and air traffic management, for optimizing reservoir operations, auditing health insurance claims, financial planning for small business and designing freight networks.

Of course, many businesses have integrated DSS applications into their day to day operations in order to analyze large amounts of data such as budget sheets, sales figures and forecasts. They rapidly sift through available data and are used extensively to allow faster decision-making, identification of market trends and improved allocation of resources.

Read about what DSS are and the different types described...

Advantages of DSS

  • Improves performance and effectiveness of the user
  • Allows for faster decision-making
  • Reduces the time taken to solve problems
  • These combine to save money!
  • Has been seen to improve collaboration and communication within groups
  • Reduces training times because the experience of experts is available within the programs algorithms
  • Provides more evidence in support of a decision
  • May increase decision-maker satisfaction
  • Providing different perspectives to a situation
  • Helps automate various business systems

 

Disadvantages

  • Too much emphasis/control given to the machines.
  • May reduce skill in staff because they become dependent on the computers
  • Reduction in efficiency because of information overload
  • Shift of responsibility - easy to blame computer!
  • Disgruntled employees who feel they are now only doing clerical work
  • False sense of being objective - humans still feed information in and decide how exactly to process it.

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