Design Methods of Strategic Decision Support Solutions for B2C Business Managers

Design Methods of Strategic Decision Support Solutions for B2C Business Managers

Madhury Khatun (Victoria University, Australia) and Shah J. Miah (Victoria University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5718-0.ch014

Abstract

This chapter reviews methods to develop a decision support system (DSS) for small business managers. The primary objective is to support managers, making strategic decisions for achieving competitive advantages in the business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce environment. Many researchers in the DSS domain utilized various methods to design information systems (IS) solution, mostly intended for large businesses. None of the researchers have considered the business environment as a knowledge source for DSS development of small business strategic decision support needs. User-centered design (UCD) and design science research (DSR) method were adopted for DSS development. DSR was appropriate because it addresses the real-world application environment where research problem or opportunity are defined. Multiple case studies and web content analysis were carried out for understanding business problems, needs, and system requirements. This study used the qualitative and descriptive data analysis methods. The findings suggested developing a DSS solution to meet the small business strategic needs.
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Introduction

The analysis and design of Decision Support Systems (DSS) is a multifaceted activity that points toward exploiting of suitable methodologies for modelling decision processes (Brandas, 2011). This chapter describes various system development approaches to select suitable method(s) for a small business DSS development. The DSS is targeted to enhance small business owner/manager strategic decision-making competencies. The idea is to provide an option to managers using analytical knowledge to update competitive features on their websites within the business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce dynamic environment. DSS is the area of information system (IS) discipline focused on systems that support and improve managerial decision-making (Arnott & Pervan, 2012).

A DSS is vital for this study related to addressing small business issues and needs because it can provide potential solutions to organisational problems (Arnott & Pervan, 2012). The DSS also can assist in improving managerial, strategic decision-making competencies (Arnott & Pervan, 2012; Power, 2016), and can help decision-makers understand underlying issues in a system (Wienclaw, 2008). Therefore, a DSS can help managers make better decisions (Pick, 2008; Wienclaw, 2008).

One of the vital roles of a manager in an organisation involves in making most productive decisions within the business environment and implementing them for the profitable business outcome. Making a productive decision is relatively a hard task for small business managers in the dynamic business environment (Power, 2010). Predominantly, decision making may difficult for most small businesses in the B2C e-commerce environment, where millions of consumers have the opportunity to direct dealings with companies on their websites and can evaluate products and services until choosing one site (Haag & Cummings, 2009). Also, global products and services are produced and delivered to customers in a technologically sophisticated electronic trading environment where markets change rapidly, and consumer demands are high (Power, Sharda & Kulkarni, 2007). Thus, the business processes are complex and competitive oriented (Alalwan, 2013). B2C e-commerce highly visible, as it directly interacts with more than several millions of consumers through websites (Haag & Cummings, 2009). This changing environment influences both problems and opportunities for businesses. Thus, managers as decision-makers require analysing problems in such environment (Hall, 2008). Consequently, appropriate decisions and actions are required by the decision makers in such situation (Hall, 2008).

The majority of Australian small businesses in the B2C sector have been experiencing significant issues in the running productively in their online businesses that were identified through multiple case studies before a DSS solution development. In this environment, effective decision-making could be impossible without the use of appropriate technical support that can assist selecting competitive features on small business websites. The adoption of competitive website features would help a small business to reach potential customers to increase sell online. These discussions suggest designing a purpose-specific DSS solution that is essential for owners/managers in making the strategic decision in such environment. The research objective of this study is:

What are the most appropriate methods to develop a small business DSS for their strategic business needs?

This chapter is organised as follows. First, it discusses the background of the chapter. Next, it explains the practical problems of small businesses and DSS requirements, and method used for requirement analysis. Then, it discusses various DSS development approaches to identify the most suitable methods for small business DSS development, and finally, presents a conclusion with further research direction.

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