Decision support systems

The marketing manager of a charity began to compare monthly giving from the various segments of its market against the forecasts prepared at the beginning of the financial year. Working on the computer she discovered that overall revenue was slightly down against forecasts. Further enquiry showed that while the donations from most segments were holding up against forecast revenue there was a substantial shortfall in the level of giving from the corporate sector. She asked the computer to break down these figures by geographical location and discovered that the major area of shortfall was in the London and South East region. Comparing advertising levels with industry trends she noticed that recently her direct competitors had increased advertising spend and had begun to target this spend towards the corporate sector. A search on other variables showed that there had been little or no change in the dynamics of the market, and other key success factors had remained constant. She resolved to meet with her marketing team the following afternoon to begin to frame a response to this particular problem._

This example shows how the impact of database and statistical software has enabled managers to conduct significant analysis of their market relatively quickly and to frame an appropriate strategic or tactical response. The ability to support hunches or qualitative information with 'hard' evidence is a useful addition to the manager's range of skills. The appropriate software and hardware needed to run relevant analyses are readily available to almost every company in cost-effective form.

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