Benefits of IT-Based Decision-Making in Developing Countries
Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries
Despite the irritatingly slow progress of economic and social development in the world's least developed countries (LDCs), a gentle but nevertheless dramatic change has begun to dawn in their institutional decision-making: the increasing use of IT-based decision support systems. This paper, based on a study in one of the poorest African countries, demonstrates that decision support systems (DSS), which are increasingly though still insufficiently used, have already generated some benefits for
... some benefits for the utilising organisations. If such systems would be integrated with group support systems (GSS), additional benefits can be expected. Background Information technology (IT) has during the last decade played an ever more important role in management decision-making. It has probably also contributed to the recently reported significant increase in labour productivity in some of the technologically most advanced countries, like the USA 1 . In the coming years, investment in IT to support decision-making is likely to grow faster than ever before. This will not only affect the economies of the industrialised countries, but the entire developing world (low and middle income economies), where more than 80 percent of the world population lives, as well. Developing countries will have to cope with the resulting organisational changes and will have to adapt to them to avoid falling further behind and risk exclusion from economic and social progress. This danger is increasingly being recognised and efforts to exploit IT's potential for improving economic and social development as well as survivability and competitiveness of businesses are now being made even in the least developed countries (LDCs) in Africa. While fair world trade agreements are still lacking and will take years to materialise, many LDCs have started to use information and communication technologies to integrate their economies into the existing trade networks and to improve business and government decision-making. During the last two decades, various IT-based concepts, methods and tools have become available to support managers in decision-making through structuring decision processes, as well as planning and control operations. IT-based implementations of such concepts, methods and tools have become known as decision support systems (DSS). It is now generally accepted that DSS are highly effective means to improve decision quality and management productivity. 1 The US Labor Department announced in early December 1999 that productivity has risen by 4.9% in the third quarter of 1999, its biggest gain in almost seven years. The most obvious factor behind this is believed to be the use of and revolution in information technology. In addition, the surge in information available to decision-makers has reduced uncertainties that traditionally confronted management.