Dallas Business Consultant Elijah ClarkDallas Business Consultant Elijah Clark

Decision Support Systems

A Decision Support Systems (DDS) assist in reducing time needed in manual searching of information. DSS gives the ability for results to be returned at faster than human speeds. DSS is a flexible interactive IT system designed to assist non-structured decision making problems. Advantages of DSS include, increased productivity, understanding, speed, flexibility, and reduced cost. DSSs are information systems that support decision-making processes. Objective of DSSs is to enhance the effectiveness of decision-makers. Functions that DSS assist with include data storage, retrieval, manipulation, and small calculations. A crucial point of DSS is its ability to react to changes and situations quickly. DSS can be used to assist in solving many different promising diverse alternatives to problems.
 
DSS is when an individual performs decision related task. The goal of DSSs is to assist the decision maker in improving their effectiveness. Enhancing the decision maker’s insights and knowledge does this. Decision-making is dependent upon knowing past, present, and likely future situations. Information systems should have the ability to forecast the future based on probability.
 
Often a DSS will incorporate an expert system (ES). While a DSS requires the decision maker to have knowledge and expertise about the situation, an ES only requires facts and symptoms to provide solutions to problems. In a replacement role, an ES helps with improving efficiency of decision makers. ES tools are used to mainly support and assist with problems and not replace the decision maker. ES is a system that assists with reaching conclusions based on reasoning. These types of systems are useful for diagnostic and prescriptive type problems. In a support role, an ES can be known as an expert advisory. DSS generally has three components: model management, data management, and user interface management. Model management provides information to the decision makers. Data management assists with customer and product information. User interface management helps the decision makers access the information. ES tools, if used to replace human decision makers, have been shown to be just as effective, if not better than a human. Organizations should not rely on ES tools to improve the efficiency of the decision maker. 
 
The marketing firm that I am researching could use DSS to analyze its customer marketing performance and create effective strategies based on that information. Considering the organization uses tracking and monitoring tools to view its customer data, it should use DSS to highlight opportunities for each unique customer. Currently, its customers each have similar goals and processes that are used to generate sales. However, with implementing DSS, it could help in developing unique plans and goals for the customers instead of one universal marketing method. 

Information Systems Development

When it comes to accomplishing information technology (IT) task within an organization, there is the option of insourcing, selfsourcing, and outsourcing. Insourcing means to use individuals within the organization to complete the task. Selfsourcing is using system supports by knowledge workers. Outsourcing is when an organization chooses to use third party companies or individuals to complete the task. Organizational IT outsourcing is growing at an exceptional rate. Organizations may seek outsourcing services from individuals throughout the globe. In order to find the best individuals for the task, outsourcing may be an effective solution that could save cost and time by providing resources and capabilities outside of the organizations structure. Outsourced companies or individuals can be used to cut cost, save time, or be used for their extensive background and technical abilities. In addition, outsourcing allows for organizations to potentially acquire leading-edge technology that they would not otherwise have without purchasing and training employees to use the systems. Outsourcing allows for organizations to focus their resources on task that matter most and are their core competencies. Other benefits of outsourcing include, lowering development cost, hiring the best talent for the job, and gaining a higher quality of work.
 
Short cycle time systems development involves creating and completing task quickly for organizations. A benefit of this type of structure is that new products and innovation are brought to the marketplace sooner and can help organizations benefit by having a competitive advantage. Concerns with outsourcing short cycle time systems include privacy, security, and potential loss of in-house resources. In addition, the quick reaction allows the development of new products and services to align with market and environment changes. A disadvantage of producing products or services quickly is that the quality may suffer. Furthermore, using outsourced individuals, could also present legal issues, financial setbacks, and provide limited control over outcomes.
 
To try and mitigate the damages of outsourcing, organizations may use service level agreement (SLA) contracts with the vendors, which ensure with penalties that they receive the desired performance and expectations. Other disadvantages of outsourcing include the cultural differences. Outsourcing is often between organizations with different backgrounds, language, and cultural differences. For organizations to outsource effectively, they should implement corporate policy, which protects privacy and data security of individuals. While cost reduction is a valuable benefit to have, organizations should be aware of outsourced individuals who may have hidden cost associated with the work they provide.

Electronic Commerce Decisions

B2B and B2C refer to Internet commerce businesses that sell products or services to the end customer (B2C) or to other businesses (B2B). B2B and B2C customers should be marketed to uniquely. Organizations should find the key points in which they operate so they may effectively identify business exchanges through e-commerce. E-commerce may be implemented into organizations by using well-defined simultaneous processes for transactions.
 
In regards to the American Online (AOL) case study, I would recommend that AOL be prepared for the new users and workload associated with the new service. E-commerce and online transactions account for billions of dollars and activities. While it is a good opportunity for AOL, it could be overwhelming based on the numbers of expected transactions and consumer questions and concerns. This will require top-notch security measures, privacy resolutions, and excellent customer support. In addition, AOL needs to define and understand their consumer. If AOL has a user base with ages above a certain trend and demographic, it could find itself having to create and market its new business service to users practically from scratch considering disruptive technology is often influenced and adopted by younger demographics. With the expansion in services, there will be additional cost of marketing and managing. AOL should also consider making their banking service available to users via mobile devices and having it universal across web browsers and operating systems. Considering AOL is already within the net marketplace, it could have an advantage that makes it suited for the situation. As a firm that is already technology driven, they should be able to align the new service into their current business structure fluidly. Considering there are competitors within this market space, I would recommend that AOL reviews those firms for suggestions on how to make a competitive or better service.
 
In the case of the small office supply company; with the organization focusing on local success, it may be suitable for testing multiple methods. Benefits of e-commerce are generated based on the efficiency of the automated system. In addition, benefits include lower production and transaction cost (Duffy, & Dale, 2002), which will help resolve the organizations concern regarding their budget. Having proper stock notifications, delivery dates, and excellent customer support is key to achieving e-commerce success. The organization should respond quickly to threats and opportunities regarding the matters of management, schedules and consumer loyalty. In addition, the organization needs to be aware of the type of user they desire and market toward them appropriately. 
 
E-commerce within a B2B setting may be ideal if the organization plans to have an on-going relationship with the consumer. E-commerce can be considered as Internet transactions or information exchanges that use information and communication technology. In regards to creating a positive experience for the consumer, the organization should be aware of their web presence and how it is integrated into information technology systems. In addition, management and strict control of revenue and expenditures should be paramount for the success of the organization. A negative of e-commerce versus brick and mortar business is that e-commerce makes it difficult to generate a sale through user interaction with the organization. To partially resolve this, the organization can monitor the effects of their e-commerce strategies by using activity and traffic tools that monitor users visiting the web site. The benefit of an e-commerce environment is that it is open 24 hours seven days a week. Because of this, the web site availability and performance is crucial.
 
To assist in marketing, the organization needs to determine the proper marketing mix. A marketing mix is considered tools and techniques used to help search and monitor marketing campaigns. Once the organization finds the purpose of the e-commerce integration, they may be able to select the appropriate solution. To find the proper solution for implementing e-commerce, the organization could choose to test out multiple methods and decide which is most appropriate for their organization and goals. A benefit of B2B over B2C is that B2B allows for organizations to have nearly equal benefits with less the hassle of dealing with customers.  Moreover, B2C will likely have higher profit margins than B2B. While B2B may have hundreds of customers, B2C can generate thousands. Because of these numbers, business processes and customer support are crucial to providing satisfaction to customers. B2C success requires the organization to provide competitive prices, products, and marketing, in addition to excellent process flow and continuous improvements.

Frameworks and Strategies

Michael Porter defines overall cost leadership as producing a same or better quality product for the consumer at a better value. The company that I work for offers marketing, branding, and media services to consumers. My role within the company is as the marketing manager. We consider our prices to be aligned based on industry standard prices. This doesn’t mean that we match prices, but that we choose competitive prices that can be affordable and beneficial to both our company and the potential customer. Considering the industry is somewhat polluted with low-cost and cheap alternatives, it is difficult to understand or explain to a consumer that we offer a better service than the competition. Because of this, we base our marketing on understanding the consumers’ needs and adapting and selling toward that point. For instance, a consumer who only seeks to keep cost down, will rarely select our company considering freelancers will always present a lower value. For consumers looking for high-quality results, we often focus our sales pitches on our strengths, which include presenting examples, providing references, and feeding the customer with knowledge. While our cost advantages will fit within the median of the industry norm, our quality is considered to be very competitive. By having better quality, business experience, and educating customers, we can sell our experience through strategic marketing plans. The difficulty of gaining the attention of the consumer is not whether or not we are competitive, but how well we know our customers. We’ve found in the past that trying to please everyone was a difficult task. Our prices would never be cheap enough, and our quality could often be too overwhelming. By focusing our attention on our key customer demographics, we were able to put together a competitive package, at an affordable price for our desired consumer. 

Porter explains that businesses can beat competition by offering products or services that are unique to the industry and competition. In trying to differentiate ourselves, in the past we have run into issues with consumers not fully understanding the change or differentiator. By offering unique products or services, we can gain new customers. Considering we are in a service oriented industry, we have to educate our customers on why we are making a change and how it affects them. In addition, considering our industry is one in which consumers will never fully understand in depth, creating a differentiator can be difficult for this reason. A setback of creating a differentiator is in dealing with companies that will eventually imitate our unique value if it is deemed successful and sought after by consumers. The more services we add on, the more our customers will become skeptical in the sense that we may be nickel-and-diming them for things that they believe they don’t really need to achieve success. To resolve this, we can take precautions and carefully educate our clients on what it is that we offer and the importance of the additional service(s). In addition, we have to explain the positive and negatives of implementing the service into their monthly budget. We have not found difficulty in creating a differentiator, but we have had trouble figuring out how to explain the differentiator to the consumer and why they need something that they may not understand, the competitor doesn’t offer, and will likely cost more money. However, we can improve this confusion by explaining to the consumer that being different is better.

Porter states that business focus is based on not trying to satisfy all customer demographics by offering too many products or services. Instead, businesses should focus on limiting their products or services and marketing them to a niche customer base. There are many options to focus within my company. We could focus on a particular service such as design, marketing, or media management. However, we have done this is the past and we have instead transformed our marketing firm into a full and complete branding firm. The reason behind this is because consumers who come to us with a simple business plan will likely need help in executing the plan entirely and not just a portion. For instance, if a customer came for a web design, but wanted marketing service also, we would be limiting our services and possibly pushing our clients to competing firms that do offer full services. We have discovered that consumers do not like dealing with multiple people or companies in order to complete one task. By offering them everything they need and managing what they can’t, we build strong and lasting relationships with our customers. Nonetheless, we do focus  on making sure that each customer is equally fulfilled with their service. For instance, all of our web designs use content management systems and our online marketing techniques use focused strategies such as Google, and Yahoo rank, as well as Facebook and Twitter. We are focused in our knowledge and understand the importance of marketing and creating success for all customers on the most targeted social networks, search engines, and by using industry standard methods to achieve our results.

Overall, Porter makes good points that businesses should implement better quality at competitive prices, present unique services, and focus on niche products and services to market toward a desired consumer. Within my company, while we have implemented a few of these strategies, we still have plenty to learn in this ever-changing industry and until we are the leading branding firm that we desire to be, there will always be room for improvement. 

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