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Getting Over Your Hesitation on Decision Support Systems Software

Sean Salleh 18 Oct 2013 Modeling methods

For Decision Strategies, Inc., the recommendation is clear: ‘Executives who are hesitant about using decision support systems should consider Analytica.’ Pointing executives and managers towards Analytica is justified in many ways. But do executives know what decision support systems software is – or does? If all they’ve ever seen are spreadsheets with ‘what if’ projections, they may simply not have met the concept of a decision support system in any other form. Aren’t spreadsheets for bean-counters? And as for software, isn’t that something that lives in the IT department and that can only be handled with special training and safety goggles? More seriously though, discussing why hesitancy exists and how to respond may help get to the benefits of good decision support systems software faster.

Decision making should be this simple wherever possible Image source: Googleusercontent.com

Answering Hesitation #1: Not Understanding

If this concern is driven by the spaghetti formulas and references you’ve seen in spreadsheets, you’re not alone. If the term ‘data models’ conjures up pictures of numbers on catwalks, then take heart. Some time ago, there was a standing joke about why IBM made its products in blue: it was so that its managers would know those big boxes were computers. This was not as silly as it sounds. In the era when IBM ruled the IT market, its sales and marketing executives were way ahead of their peers in understanding the real business needs and challenges of their customers. They talked business solutions before the term ‘solution selling’ became a catchphrase, leaving their (much smaller) competitors to blather on about alternative technology. Yes, IBM products were good quality, but what really counted were the business advantages they enabled.

The same is true of decision support systems software. Never mind the long name, does it help you do better business in a straightforward, understandable way? Analytica does. It ‘cuts through the spreadsheet obfuscation’ and ‘lets management see what’s going on’, said Intelligent Enterprise about Analytica. ‘It rends the veil that has kept business managers from collaborating with analysts on complex business models’. That’s right, business models. Now suits and geeks can work together, speak the same language and have their company take better decisions.

Fixing Hesitation #2: Worrying About Expense

Your smartphone is expensive if all you do is text with it. But with a simple shopping app in it to compare prices, after you’ve saved 20 dollars here and 50 dollars there, your smartphone looks less like a costly toy and more like a good investment. Likewise, if decision support systems software is easy to use and gives realistic, actionable results, it can pay for itself rapidly. As MacWorld said, ‘Analytica… is not only the right computing tool for financial decisions, it helps you think more realistically.’ Elsewhere, in the Journal of Human and Environmental Risk Assessment: ‘Analytica… is very easy to learn… New users can learn to create useful simple models within minutes of acquiring the software.’ And from Information Week, ‘…you have to convince the CIO and CO that buying a product will have high profitability… Analytica allows us to operate in a problem-solving space that you wouldn't be able to handle in a spreadsheet.’

Resolving Hesitation #3: ‘Been Bitten Before’

Once bitten, twice shy: that goes for decision support system software as well. If it takes too long to learn, is too difficult or generates erroneous results, why would anyone use such a system? Only if it’s a habit you can’t get rid of. Spreadsheets for instance have embedded themselves in organizations that still suffer the consequences. It’s not that spreadsheets are bad in themselves. It’s just that they are not well-suited to understanding many business situations and making sensible decisions.

Nobody has to be bitten a second time, however. Besides being easy to use and cost-effective, Analytica also makes the free Analytica Player available for trying out different models before you buy. ‘Everything that's wrong with the common PC spreadsheet is fixed in Analytica’, said PC Week. ‘This… modeling tool provides both better organization of a decision maker's thoughts while a model is being built and a clearer depiction of outcomes when different possibilities are considered by a user.’

PC Week also said ‘Going back to a spreadsheet feels like going from FORTRAN back to assembly language.’ But if that still sounds a little geeky, try ‘Going back to the spreadsheet feels like going back from a PC to a typewriter’.

If you’d like to know how Analytica, the modeling software from Lumina, can help improve clarity and ease of decision-making, then try a thirty day free evaluation of Analytica to see what it can do for you.

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Sean Salleh

Sean Salleh is a data scientist with experience in guiding marketing strategy from building marketing mix models, forecasting models, scenario planning models, and algorithms. He is passionate about consumer technologies and resource management. He has master's degrees in Operations Research from University of California Irvine and Mathematics from Northeastern University.

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