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					                     CITY UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG

Course Code & Title : IS6821/IS5740 Management Support Systems

Session               : Semester A 1998-99

Time allowed          : Two hours

This paper has FOUR pages (including this cover page)

   Answer all the FOUR questions.
   Please start the answer to each new question on a new page.
   Use of calculators, books, or notes is not permitted.

1. Answer the following questions using the Toys “R” Us case study given below:

   a) The case study illustrates that the country managers can answer the following
      questions using the data warehousing solution. Explain why ad hoc and/or
      predefined queries and reports in typical management information systems can
      not provide such facilities?                                      (15 marks)

          How successful was a specific product promotion?
          When making a promotion purchase, what other merchandise do customers buy?
          Is there sufficient inventory in each store?

   b) Describe how specifically the data warehouse helped Toys “R” Us in
      increasing its revenues and reducing its inventory costs. (10 marks)

                   Case Study: Toys "R" Us customers double spending
                             with AS/400 Data Warehousing

       Toys "R" Us International knows how to play with data - lots of data - and win. But
       using information for competitive advantage is not a game for this $10-billion (U.S.)
       organization. In the last six months of 1996, the company rolled out a comprehensive
       data warehouse solution across Europe and Asia, using AS/400 Advanced Servers.
       Country managers use the improved information to manage inventory and target
       customer loyalty programs more effectively.

       The result: loyal customers have doubled the amount they spend at Toys "R" Us each
       month, while the company has trimmed its inventory costs. Based in the United
       States, Toys "R" Us is the world's largest retailer of children's toys, with more than
       1,200 stores in 27 countries. Its international division adopted AS/400 technology
       when it was first made available in 1988. ….

       …. "AS/400 technology has been a very positive implementation for us," says Joe
       Giamelli, vice president, information systems, Toys "R" Us International. "It has made
       it easy to integrate advanced applications, such as data warehousing, and it gets you
       into a networked environment quickly, without all the integration and training issues of
       different data bases, operating systems, hardware platforms and so on. With this
       approach, our data warehouse implementation was simple and straightforward."

       A serious data warehouse Toys "R" Us International chose an AS/400 data
       warehouse solution, called STRATEGY, from IBM Business Partner ShowCase, of
       Rochester, Minnesota.

       The solution helps country managers answer such questions as:
        How successful was a specific product promotion?
        When making a promotion purchase, what other merchandise do customers buy?
        Is there sufficient inventory in each store?

       "Each country manager approaches the business slightly differently and has a unique
       set of critical success factors," says Giamelli. "Our data warehouse enables managers
       to retrieve data from many business functions and offload that information in a format
       that's useful to them. For the first time they can view what's going on in the business
       at a more detailed, local level, without being overwhelmed by data."
       The combined STRATEGY and AS/400-based solution is also flexible enough to meet
       a broad range of user requirements. Toys "R" Us International managers can now sift
       quickly through data to find sales patterns to enable the company to make
       sophisticated strategic marketing decisions.

       For example, managers can spot fast- or slow-moving products quickly, and make
       projections for future revenue. They can quickly add inventory for products doing well,
       and cancel inventory for products not selling as expected. According to Giamelli,
       those decisions directly enhance the profitability of Toys "R" Us International.

       Managers can also track customer profitability and loyalty and create specialized
       sales promotions for key customer segments. "These are our best customers," says
       Giamelli. "We need to understand their preferences to provide the best possible
       service to them. Since we have implemented our data warehouse, our loyal
       customers have doubled their spending with us - and they are visiting our
       stores more frequently."

       "The AS/400-based data warehouse has enabled us to provide complex, qualitative
       and quantitative analysis to our business managers quickly and efficiently," he adds.
       "Speed of information delivery is critical in a rapidly-changing retail environment. The
       AS/400 solution allows us to meet these business needs in a timely, cost-effective

       For the future, Giamelli is confident the AS/400 platform will continue to provide a
       solid foundation for growth. "It positions us very strongly for where we will go as a
       business in the next three to five years," he says. "The ease with which we can share
       information is remarkable."

       Data Warehousing on AS/400 Advanced Servers helps international managers make
       sophisticated strategic marketing decisions.

       (Source: September 1998)

2. Allocation of lecture theatres, classrooms and laboratories for various lectures,
   tutorials and practical work is an important task for the university administration.
   This task needs to be performed taking into consideration all the courses of
   various programmes before every semester starts.

   a) Justify the need for a decision support system in solving this problem.
                                                                            (7 marks)

   b) Comment on the type of support a typical user of such a system expects.
                                                                          (8 marks)

   c) Elaborate on the database and modelling components required for building a
      DSS to support this task.                                      (10 marks)

3. Loan approval is a common decision problem in the money lending institutions
   such as banks. Many systems have been developed to support the managers
   solving this class of problems using approaches such as quantitative models,
   expert systems, neural networks, and fuzzy logic.

   a) Describe how such a management support system can be developed using
      neural networks.                                           (8 marks)

   b) Describe how such a management support system can be developed using fuzzy
      sets and fuzzy logic.
                                                                      (8 marks)

   c) Discuss the merits and limitations of the above technologies for this type of
      problem.                                                           (9 marks)

4. Ms. Mary Wong, manager of planning and control operations, at the Kowloon
   Motor Bus Company (KMB) is looking for a DSS to assist her in taking decisions
   related to activities such as planning for new bus routes/services, and analyzing
   the effect of changes in schedules.

   a) Describe the user interface and the functionality you would provide to Ms.
      Wong in such a DSS.                                             (15 marks)

   b) What is the most suitable modeling technique, in your opinion, that can be
      used in building such a DSS? Elaborate on how you would approach building
      such a DSS.                                                     (10 marks)

                            *** End of Exam Paper ***

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