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Since the U.S. Department of Defense initiated the development of networked computers in 1969, Internet technologies have rapidly advanced and revolutionized the way we communicate and conduct business. They have narrowed geographical and temporal boundaries rapidly. The second wave of the technological revolution came with intranet technology in the mid-1990s. With the intranet, organizations have strengthened the powers and speeds of data gathering/sharing, communication, collaboration, and decision making within a firewall-protected organizational boundary. The third wave of this technological evolution, extranets, began in the second half of the 1990s.
Many believe that it is the key technology enabler that is triggering a revolution in the structure and operations of many organizations in the new Internet-driven global economy (Goldmann, 1997). In addition to maturing Internet technologies, several technology drivers, as well as business drivers, further pushed the emergence of industrial networks and trans-enterprise systems. The technology drivers include expanded public network infrastructure, the development of Internet and World Wide Web technologies, a rapid development of client/server computing technology, the evolution of relational database technology, and the development of crossware applications. Globalization, information and knowledge-driven economies, business process reengineering, and changes in management process thinking (viewing the firm from discrete firm-based to industry- based perspectives of cooperation) have been strong driving forces of the development of industrial networks (Laudon & Laudon, 2000). With the third wave of the Internet technologies (extranets), we are witnessing the growing importance of new types of organizations—virtual corporations, virtual organizations, extended enterprises, and trans-enterprise systems. All of these organizations are built on Internet technologies, including intranets and extranets.
This paper discusses the evolution of DSSs from single-user DSSs to IODSSs to support inter-organizational decision-making activities. The concepts of extranets and inter-organizational systems are inseparable parts. We will review the concept of extranets, including intronets and supranets. The following section describes and contrasts organizational DSSs, global DSSs, and IODSSs, along with a discussion of the differences between Web-based DSSs and IODSSs. The subsystems of IODSSs will be described in the next section. The last section discusses the applications of IODSSs.
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