Category: "technology"

OSS DSS Formalization

The next step in our open source solutions (OSS) for decision support systems (DSS) study guide (SG), according to the syllabus, is to make our first decision: a formal definition of "Decision Support System". Next, and soon, will be a post listing the technologies that will contribute to our studies.

The first stop in looking for a definition of anything today, is Wikipedia. And indeed, Wikipedia does have a nice article on DSS. One of the things that I find most informative about Wikipedia articles, is the "Talk" page for an article. The DSS discussion is rather mild though, no ongoing debate as can be found on some other talk pages, such as the discussion about Business Intelligence. The talk pages also change more often, and provide insight into the thoughts that go into the main article.

And of course, the second stop is a Google search for Decision Support System; a search on DSS is not nearly as fruitful for our purposes. :)

Once upon a time, we might have gone to a library and thumbed through the card catalog to find some books on Decision Support Systems. A more popular approach today would be to search Amazon for Decision Support books. There are several books in my library that you might find interesting for different reasons:

  1. Pentaho Solutions: Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing with Pentaho and MySQL by Roland Bouman & Jos van Dongen provides a very good overview of data warehousing, business intelligence and data mining, all key components to a DSS, and does so within the context of the open source Pentaho suite
  2. Smart Enough Systems: How to Deliver Competitive Advantage by Automating Hidden Decisions by James Taylor & Neil Raden introduces business concepts for truly managing information and using decision support systems, as well as being a primer on data warehousing and business intelligence, but goes beyond this by automating the data flow and decision making processes
  3. Business Intelligence Roadmap: The Complete Project Lifecycle for Decision-Support Applications by Larissa T. Moss & Shaku Atre takes a business, program and project management approach to implementing DSS within a company, introducing fundamental concepts in a clear, though simplistic level
  4. Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning by Thomas H. Davenport & Jeanne G. Harris in many ways goes into the next generation of decision support by showing how data, statistical and quantitative analysis within a context specific processes, gives businesses a strong lead over their competition, albeit, it does so at a very simplistic, formulaic level

These books range from being technology focused to being general business books, but they all provide insight into how various components of DSS fit into a business, and different approaches to implementing them. None of them actually provide a complete DSS, and only the first focuses on OSS. If you followed the Amazon search link given previously, you might also have noticed that there are books that show Excel as a DSS, and there is a preponderance of books that focus on the biomedical/pharmaceutical/healthcare industry. Another focus area is in using geographic information systems (actually one of the first uses for multi-dimensional databases) for decision support. There are several books in this search that look good, but haven't made it into my library as yet. I would love to hear your recommendations (perhaps in the comments).

From all of this, and our experiences in implementing various DW, BI and DSS programs, I'm going to give a definition of DSS. From a previous post in this DSS SG, we have the following:

A DSS is a set of processes and technology that help an individual to make a better decision than they could without the DSS.
-- Questions and Commonality

As we stated, this is vague and generic. Now that we've done some reading, let's see if we can do better.

A DSS assists an individual in reaching the best possible conclusion, resolution or course of action in stand-alone, iterative or interdependent situations, by using historical and current structured and unstructured data, collaboration with colleagues, and personal knowledge to predict the outcome or infer the consequences.

I like that definition, but your comments will help to refine it.

Note that we make no mention of specific processes, nor any technology whatsoever. It reflects my bias that decisions are made by individuals not groups (electoral systems not withstanding). To be true to our "TeleInterActive Lifestyle" &#59;) I should point out that the DSS must be available when and where the individual needs to make the decision.

Any comments?

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Open Source Will be the Most Discussed tech Issue

One of the most discussed "communications/computer technology impacts society" issues in 2005 main stream media was undoubtedly blogging, and the related read-write web topics of Web2.0, podcasts, vlogs, and tagging. Shel Israel predicts that the topic of 2006 will be Open Source.

9. The technology issue most discussed will no longer be the blog, but open source and its impact or disappointment on technology development o all levels everywhere.end quotation
-- Shel Israel "10 More 2006 Predictions"

I think one caveat to this is to consider the circle of conversation to which you're pointing. Is it main stream media in the main, or just the technology snippet that is often thrown out to prove they're cool? The majority of people don't have a blog, don't understand what makes a blog different from any other web site, and don't see any of the social networking or consumer-as-producer, read-write web, semantic web, Web2.0, etc. stuff having an impact on their life yet. I think that the same applies to open source software, content, intellectual un-property and other open movements. But they will.

Miss Rogue discovered this over the holidays.

Over dinner tonight with my parents, there was a little lightbulb moment for both of us... For me, it was, "Gee, otherwise, nobody in the real world gives a shit about open source, social networks and my so-called life online stuff." Even my parents, who I would think would be fascinated by it. Ha.end quotation
-- Tara Hunt "The Trouble with Normal"

Societal and behavioral changes take decades, if not generations, to become fully ingrained; be it the roads and aqueducts of the Romans, the telegraph, telephone, radio, railroad and automotive technologies that ushered in the 20th century, or the command, control, communications, computation and intelligence technologies that are ushering in this century.

But I'm very glad to see Shel recognize the importance of Open Source. As Web2.0 and Open Source become better defined by the early adopters, and as these philosophies resolve real business and personal issues, we'll see the resulting technologies, behavior and business models become integrated into the daily lives of the main stream.

But let's all try to have fun as we work towards that goal.

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At the beginning, The Open Source Solutions Blog was a companion to the Open Source Solutions for Business Intelligence Research Project, and book. But back in 2005, we couldn't find a publisher. As Apache Hadoop and its family of open source projects proliferated, and in many ways, took over the OSS data management and analytics world, our interests became more focused on streaming data management and analytics for IoT, the architecture for people, processes and technology required to bring value from the IoT through Sensor Analytics Ecosystems, and the maturity model organizations will need to follow to achieve SAEIoT success. OSS is very important in this world too, for DMA, API and community development.

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