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Dan Power

Greetings to all of my friends who work in the area of computerized decision support. This blog is a way for me to share stories from my encounters related to decision support, to comment on industry events, and to comment on other blogger's comments, especially those of my friends on the Business Intelligence Network. I'll try to state my opinions clearly and provide an old professor's perspective on how computers and information technology are changing the world. Decision making has always been my focus, and it will be in this blog as well. Your comments, feedback and questions are welcomed.

About the author >

Daniel J. "Dan" Power is a Professor of Information Systems and Management at the College of Business Administration at the University of Northern Iowa and the editor of DSSResources.com, the Web-based knowledge repository about computerized systems that support decision making; the editor of PlanningSkills.com; and the editor of DSS News, a bi-weekly e-newsletter. Dr. Power's research interests include the design and development of decision support systems and how these systems impact individual and organizational decision behavior.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in Dan's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

Recently in Conferences Category

Saturday, December 13, 2008, I will give a key note address on "Challenges of Real-Time Decision Support" at the AIS SIG DSS pre-ICIS workshop. The agenda is on the web at URL http://dssresources.com/news/2695.php. If you are in Paris, join us.

This year, 2008, marks the 50th anniversary of the first, sophisticated real-time decision support system. The SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) Air Defense system project was begun in 1954 and the first "Direction Center" building went operational at McGuire Air Force Base in 1958.

The Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system was the first major real-time, computer-based command and control system.

"The SAGE system was fully deployed in 1963; the 24 SAGE Direction Centers and three SAGE Combat Centers were spread throughout the U.S. Each was linked by long-distance telephone lines to more than 100 interoperating air defense elements, requiring system integration on a scale previously unimagined. At the heart of each center was a new large-scale digital computer that had evolved from MIT's experimental Whirlwind computer of the 1950's. The largest real-time computer program of that time, it automated information flow, processed and presented data to 100 operator stations, and provided control information to the weapons systems. This processed information, including aircraft tracks and identification, was presented to operators on a cathode ray tube—one of the first uses of this device to display computer-generated data. In spite of this complexity, remarkable for its time, SAGE exceeded virtually all the original stringent requirements, and was continuously in operation for more than 25 years. (cf., Mitre)"

SAGE had an enormous impact on the decision support possibilities in 2008.





Technorati Tags: SAGE, Business Intelligence, Decision Support .

Posted December 10, 2008 8:32 AM
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Saturday, November 22, I headed to Baltimore and the Decision Sciences Institute Annual meeting. That night I had a relaxed Italian dinner with Gloria Wren, her husband and son. Thanks Gloria.

Sunday was sessions and Monday I participated in a panel chaired by J. P. Shim and titled "Present and Future of Decision Support Technology, Practice and Research." J. P. focused on mobile technologies and the infrastructure needs for future decision support.

Jim Courtney stressed the need for various perspectives in DSS and Knowledge Management. He noted theory needs more development and argued for a broad, multi-perspective model of decision making including ethical concerns. Mark Silver emphasized the need for more behavioral research. Merrill Warkentin stressed the technology mix and broader online/automated decision support tools.

My presentation was the last on the panel and my focus was on future decision support technologies. My presentation began with mobile platforms and Barack Obama using a Blackberry. An open operating system like Android is good for decision support. Then John King of CNN was using his large screen display. Next immersive environments, then TelePresence Holographic Video Conferencing. The photo showed a demonstration by Cisco CEO John Chambers unveiling their On-Stage TelePresence Holographic Video Conferencing using the Musion Eyeliner high definition holographic video projection system with 3-dimensional moving images appearing within a live stage setting. Cisco has held 28,000 meetings using telepresence. Check http://www.musion.co.uk/Cisco_TelePresence.html .

Then my presentation emphasized virtual world technologies. Briefly, I then emphasized the use and availability of very large detailed, active databases. After discussing real-time monitoring and decision support, I summarized some recent decision support technology developments, including: solid state disk (SSD) drives, eBay's 5 petabyte DW, iPhone spreadsheet and BI, visualization widgets, data warehousing as a service, open source BI, predictive analytics, SaaS, pre-configured BI applications, high-definition videoconferencing, semantic intelligence, tracking pallets in real time, and smart navigation.

We will try to jointly write an article and expand on these themes.

Tuesday, I made a presentation of a research article co-authored with Susan Wurtz titled "Using Virtual Worlds for Real World Decision Support." Wednesday I got back to Cedar Falls for a wonderful family Thanksgiving.

Peace and let's all give thanks.

Technorati Tags: Future Decision Support, Business Intelligence, Decision Support .

Posted November 30, 2008 10:12 AM
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Late Thursday night, 10/16, I returned to Cedar Falls from Teradata Partners conference in Las Vegas. Since then I have read blog posts by colleagues on the BEYENetwork.com like Jill Dyche, Richard Hackathorn and William McKnight. So what have I concluded?

I have attended 6 Teradata Partners conferences in the past 7 years and I continue to learn and meet interesting people. The conference was not as glitzy as in earlier years, but the case study testimony suggests the technology possibilities are expanding. In 2002, a multi-terabyte data warehouse was still exciting. Today a multi-petabyte data warehouse is almost "we knew it would happen".

Attendance seemed lower and the Exhibit Hall was smaller and not very crowded when I happened to be there. Why? Consolidation of vendors? A weak economy?

The SAS/Teradata alliance seems to be flourishing. I spoke with a number of SAS people who were "checking out" Teradata Partners for the first time. SAS sponsored many events.

I missed the hands-on training and demonstration sessions for products like Teradata Miner. It was always fun to kick the tires on the products.

I had difficulty choosing sessions to attend, there were always great competing sessions.

I chatted briefly with some professors I know who are involved with Teradata University Network (TUN), but the focus seemed "reassess the strategy", "what's working?", "where to now?" I have visited the TUN website a number of times and somethings have improved. Some content is excellent and extremely valuable, but overall TUN is a mixed bag that needs more editorial oversight.

What was my favorite session? That is a hard choice, but I really enjoyed the session "Integrating SAS and Teradata for optimal business value". The presenters were: Thomas Tileston, VP of business decision support at Warner Home Entertainment; Corey Bergstrom, Cabela's Director Market Research and Analysis; and Jeffery Peckham, Wells Fargo VP of Technical Architecture.

Tileston uses SAS and a Teradata Warehouse to forecast for Warner Brothers DVDs. Corey and Jeff also use SAS with Teradata.

Well as always the hospitality was great. I attended the Goo Goo Dolls concert, but left after 3 songs. I know I'm getting old.

Technorati Tags: Teradata Partners Conference, Business Intelligence, Decision Support .

Posted October 19, 2008 10:15 AM
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Dan Ariely, an economics professor from Duke, spoke to a large crowd at the opening general session of Teradata PARTNERS 2008. Predictably he spoke too long and had too many very general examples of the irrationality we observe in human behavior. I wish he had really discussed management and business examples. My guess is that we in business tend to "bury" the irrationality and ignore figuring out what went wrong.

So can computerized decision support reduce the irrationality in business and organizational decision making? I think so. Can I prove that assertion? No. Notice I said "reduce" not "eliminate" and I am an evangelist for decision support.

Well PARTNERS on opening day was a bit low key this year. The comedian was a disaster, a "double speak" expert. Ariely talked too much and was pessimistic in my opinion.

After lunch I attended a presentation by Mark Cooper, Technical Fellow at FedEx Services. Mark spoke about the need for change in the FedEx IT group involved with data warehousing and decision support. FedEx needed an extreme makeover. The EDW team had "to transform its focus from data acquisition to data delivery." After 12 years, managers wanted more decision support. Smart idea and a necessary change. Good wishes Mark! Making sense of data and delivering decision support is much harder than acquiring data and hoping someone will figure out how to make use of it.

In mid-afternoon, I roamed the vendor expo floor and spoke briefly with about 20 vendor representatives. There is never enough time to really go in depth with people under such circumstances. The floor wasn't crowded, but attendees were trying to get their Bingo cards stamped in a promotion for gift certificates so there was primarily a focus on getting around to all of the vendors. I hope to find time to get back and chat with staff from TIBCO about operational BI.

My last session was a talk by Claudia Imhoff on BICC, Business Intelligence Competency Centers. Certainly we need staff experts and staff specialists for getting data into the warehouse and for getting information out. These are twin, mutually important needs that IT must figure out. We are information providers not data collectors in the view of many executives. We organize data to support decision makers. We must get the right information to decision makers in many roles in a modern organization.

Ariely, D., Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, HarperCollins, 2008.

Technorati Tags: Ariely, Business Intelligence, Decision Support .

Posted October 14, 2008 9:10 AM
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This week I accepted an invitation from Frada Burstein, Monash University, Australia, and
Patrick Brezillon, University Paris VI, France, to deliver a keynote talk at RTDMC-08. Real-Time Decision Making in Context, a pre-ICIS Workshop on "Supporting real time decision-making: The role of context in decision suppport on the move." The workshop is in Paris on December 13, 2008. My talk will focus on challenges of real-time decision support.

What are the challenges? In general, we have technical challenges which are perhaps the easiest ones to overcome. We have organizational challenges which are harder to deal with. And we have social/psychological challenges.

The workshop is organized by AIS SIG DSS, the International Society for Decision Support Systems, and it is under the umbrella of the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS-2008). "The objective of the workshop is to explore issues associated with the design and use of real-time Decision Support Systems. These DSS support real-time decisions 'on the move' and it is important to take into account the context for the DSS. The challenges of context management as a component of knowledge management for decision making and support will be also addressed."

Decision support of all types is being deployed to many workers and executives using a variety of hardware platforms including mobile devices and smart phones. Traders and investors can get real-time information, evaluate the content dynamically and take actions to buy and sell. People can be notified of danger and disaster. Salespeople can connect from client offices. Emergency pesonel can interact and get advice. Operations staff can personalize interactions with customers. The range of applications is exploding for real-time decision support.

The conference page is URL http://www-poleia.lip6.fr/~brezil/RTDMC-08/index.html .

You can read some of my relevant columns and I will be writing new material. Check

Power, D., What is "real-time" decision support? DSS News, Vol. 3, No. 24, November 24, 2002 at URL http://dssresources.com/faq/index.php?action=artikel&id=31 .

Power, D., What is operational business intelligence? DSS News, Vol. 9, No. 18, September 7, 2008 at URL http://dssresources.com/faq/index.php?action=artikel&id=174 .

Power, D., When is "real-time" decision support desirable and needed? DSS News, Vol. 3, No. 25, December 8, 2002 at URL http://dssresources.com/faq/index.php?action=artikel&id=32 .

Subscribe to DSS News at http://www.b-eye-network.com/newsletters/dssresources/dss_subscribe.html

Posted October 10, 2008 7:44 AM
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