Big data analytics performed by DSSs have been helping organizations come up with the best plans and strategies to ensure their success. Those that are still on their journey toward reaping the full benefits that advanced technology has to offer may start by learning all there is to know about DSSs.

What Is a Decision Support System?

A DSS is a computer application that supports an enterprise in making determinations, judgments, and courses of action. It filters and analyzes big data and compiles exhaustive amounts of information to solve problems and make decisions.

DSSs typically process data to identify business targets, project revenue, analyze sales figures, compare historical information, and manage inventory and budgets.

How Does a Decision Support System Work?

A DSS generally provides solutions by starting with problem identification. It then gathers as much input about the dilemma from various sources, including expert opinions. All the information collected is then processed. After that, the DSS presents options that users can choose from. Once the selection is made, the DSS considers social and economic factors to predict possible consequences. The result is data that serves as guidance for future use.

The diagram below shows how a DSS works.

how decision support system works

What Are the Components of a Decision Support System?

A DSS has three components—a model management system, a user interface (UI), and a knowledge base, as shown in the diagram below.

Decision Support System components

The model management system contains the programs or models that help users make business decisions. In the diagram showing a DSS at work, the model management system handles the problem definition and identification, processing by the computer, presentation of alternatives, and projection of consequences.

The UI includes the tools that help DSS users navigate and utilize the system. It’s the “face of the system” where the users issue commands to the computer. It also shows users the DSS outputs via a dashboard. In the diagram showing how a DSS works, it is where users input the user dilemma and select an option.

Finally, the knowledge base contains all the knowledge, information, and data the DSS has access to. This data can come from a connected database (e.g., financial records, previous earnings, etc.) or external sources (e.g., expert insights, information on the Internet, etc.). In the diagram showing a DSS at work, the knowledge base describes the situation and the domain, expert reasoning and logic, and social and economic factors.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Decision Support System?

A DSS allows organizations to do the following:

  • Make the most effective decisions quickly
  • Improve their capability to make the business succeed
  • Facilitate interpersonal communication
  • Encourage learning or training
  • Uncover new approaches and evidence required to make the right decisions
  • Automate managerial processes

DSSs produce reports that project revenue and sales or manage inventory. Their outputs, however, will depend on the inputs they are fed.

What Are Examples of Commonly Used Decision Support Systems?

Some of the most popularly used DSS software today are:

  • Information Builders WebFOCUS: A data and analytics platform for large enterprises and medium-sized businesses that need to correlate data from various applications.
  • QlikView: An analytics solution that helps users do their day-to-day tasks using a customizable dashboard.
  • SAP BusinessObjects: A suite of reporting and analysis applications that helps users understand emerging trends and identify their root causes.
  • TIBCO Spotfire: A data visualization and analytics software that lets users create dashboards and predictive and real-time analytics applications.
  • Salesforce Analytics Cloud: An artificial intelligence (AI)-driven, cloud-based analytics solution that helps organizations spot opportunities and predict outcomes.

Apart from businesses that rely on marketing and sales for their success, hospitals and other healthcare providers also rely heavily on DSS. In fact, the global clinical DSS market revenue alone is expected to reach US$2.24 billion by 2026.

The DSS user base is likely to continue growing, given the many advantages the technology provides its users.