Database system approach to management decision support
Author(s)Donovan, John J.
As the complexity of modern day life increases with astonishing rapidity, the complexity of the problems the policymaker must face increases at a correspondingly rapid rate. Traditional intuitive methods of decision-making are no longer adequate to deal with these complex problems. Thus systems must be developed to provide the information and analysis necessary for the decisions which must be made. We call these systems Decision Support Systems (DSS). While database systems provide a key ingredient to decision support systems, the characteristics of the problems now facing the policymaker are different from those problems to which database systems have been applied in the past. That is, the problems are usually not known in advance, they are constantly changing, and answers are needed within a short time frame. Hence, additional technologies, methodologies,and approaches must expand the traditional areas of database and operating systems research (as well as other software and hardware research) in order for them to become truly effective in supporting policymakers. This paper describes our work in this area. In indicating where future work is needed, it is a call for action as we feel that decision support systems are absolutely essential to decision makers dealing with today's complex and ever-changing problems. Specifically, the paper discusses: (1) why there exists a vital need for decision support systems; (2) examples from our work in the field of energy which make explicit the characteristics which distinguish these decision support systems from traditional operational and managerial systems; (3) how an awareness of decision support systems has evolved, including a brief review of work done by others and a statement of the computational needs of decision support systems which is consistent with contemporary technology; (4) an approach we have made to meet many of these computational needs through the development and implementation of a computational facility, GMIS (Generalized Management Information System); and (5) the application of this computational facility to a complex and important energy problem facing New England in a typical study within the NEEMIS (New England Energy Management Information System) Project.
Prepared in association with the Alfred P. Sloan School of Management
MIT Energy Lab
Management information systems, Decision making, Database management
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