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A decision support system (DSS) is based on one or more databases with accompanying software that assists in analyzing information and supports the decision making process. DSS usually operates in the higher levels of an organization and is designed to allow rapid decision making based on the speedy processing of information. Decision support systems not only enable faster decision making but, by virtue of their databases, facilitate organizational operations as well.
Consequently, software has now become entwined in the future prosperity of organizations in an intimate way. Where, in the old days, decisions were often made after a lengthy evaluation of reams of printouts; they can now be made in minutes with the assistance of software applications that are intentionally designed to do the grunt work. Managers now use software as a management tool, rather than simply as a means of processing information.
DSS is used in management through executive dashboards and other software to allocate resources and identify trends by condensing information into easily understandable presentations such as charts and graphs that summarize data in ways that once took days to achieve.
Even so, there is a difference between data and knowledge. Knowledge is data that can be applied. In this sense DSS is a means of collating data in such a way that it can be used in the decision making process, and not all decision making is taking place in the upper echelons. Digital technology has brought down the cost of data to a point where it is now easily accessible to front line employees as well as upper management. In fact, info-software tends to move decision making further down the ladder as it reduces the time and energy required to access and process information, making it possible for lower level and customer facing employees to be able to evaluate information and make decisions without sacrificing their other duties. There may come a time when decision support systems are a part of almost every employee’s toolkit.
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