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Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Database Essay

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Updated: Jun 16th, 2020

Introduction

The term management is used to refer to a specific function within an organisation or a business entity. The function describes the operations of agents charged with the responsibility of coordinating efforts in the firm with the aim of achieving the set goals in an effective and efficient manner. On its part, a decision support system (DSS) refers to an information network that is anchored on computing technology. The system helps businesses and organisations to make informed decisions (Turban et al. 2005). In other words, DSS is viewed as a set up meant to provide support for organisational processes.

In this paper, the author will analyse a project touching on management decision support systems. The project is important given that the management team in a given business firm makes key decisions affecting the enterprise. The team also formulates policies to govern the organisation. According to McNurlin and Sprague (2005), the executives should be well informed when making these decisions. The DSSs that are at their disposal serve as important sources of information.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) of America is a body that seeks to protect members of the public from purchasing products that are likely to cause injury. The commission has recently launched a database where consumers can file complaints concerning the safety of products in the American market. The database is operated online and is open to all users. The current project will analyse this database. The undertaking is significant given that the information contained in the database helps consumers to learn about goods that are currently in the market with the hope of coming up with the most appropriate decision.

Literature Review

Introduction

The use of DSS as a tool for decision making is not an entirely new concept. The information tool has been in use since the late 20th century. Its popularity soared after the introduction of the World Wide Web (McNurlin & Sprague 2005). The kit is important to both manufacturers and consumers. With regards to consumers, the use of these systems has eased the process of making the right decisions when purchasing goods. The networks have also helped manufacturers to respond to complaints made by the consumers. The producers are also in a position to make improvements on the goods that are already in the market.

Manufacturers put into consideration the reviews provided by customers when designing new products. The new CPSC website, www.safeproducts.gov, is one such information system used by these stakeholders. It was launched in 1972 under the Consumer Product Safety Act. CPSC is charged with the responsibility of protecting consumers from the use of goods likely to harm them. At the time of its launch, there were very few platforms through which consumers could exchange ideas about products. The reason behind this was that few discoveries had been made to promote sharing of information in the market. The database changed all this. Technological advancements that are available today have enabled the government to reach out to a large number of consumers (Cheung & Lee 2012).

Materials Used

It is a fact that management DSS has helped consumers and affiliated associations make informed decisions when operating in the modern market. To better understand this relationship, there is need to conduct a comprehensive research. In this literature review, the author analysed resources that are currently available in the market. Following the evaluation, five of the best resources were selected. To this end, both journals and books were used in the study. The Google Scholar database was used to search for the relevant journals. The resources that were relevant to the study were selected. Only recent journal articles were used. Books used for the study were obtained from the school library.

The resources that were used in the project include the following

Information Management Systems by McNurlin and Sprague

The book was published in 2005. It is a compilation of works that had been previously done by other writers. The authors of the book have put in to use excerpts and case studies from other resources. Many cases of paraphrasing are notable in the book. It provides insights into the importance of information systems to businesses and organisations. The authors emphasise on how users manipulate the systems. The stakeholders do this to help them provide information that is beneficial to the management of an organisation (McNurlin & Sprague 2005). In addition, McNurlin and Sprague (2005) use the book to highlight how the information technology (IT) sector has evolved over the past few decades. The evolution has considerably reduced the time required to make decisions. To fully understand the concepts discussed in this book by McNurlin and Sprague (2005), it is important for the reader to have skills in IT.

What Drives Consumers to Spread Electronic Word of Mouth by Cheung and Lee (2002)

The article is published in the Decision Support Systems journal. It focuses on the use of the internet as a platform where customers can exchange ideas about the goods that are distributed in the market. The effectiveness of online reviews by consumers is also addressed in this article. A lot of emphasis is put on the concept of ‘electronic world of mouth’ (eWOM). The motives of customers are also put into sharp focus in the article. The resource is of great importance in the completion of the project since it clearly shows how a positive review by one consumer can help a manufacturer gain competitive advantage in the market. The ratings also help producers who are portrayed negatively to improve their processes. The eWOM platform uses the same principle as the CPSC website. In light of this, existing consumers sensitise potential buyers on the possible injuries associated with the use of a given product (Cheung & Lee 2012).

Information Technology for Management by Turban et al. (2005)

The book starts by acknowledging that IT has significant impacts on the manner through which businesses are operated in the global market. Turban et al. (2005) use the term ‘digital economy’ to describe the way business organisations conduct their transactions over the internet. The use of the internet has changed the strategies through which economic firms are managed. According to Turban et al. (2005), IT has helped increase the quality and quantity of products made available in today’s market. It plays an important role in the industry by helping businesses gain a competitive advantage in the market. It achieves this by providing problem solving mechanisms and improving service delivery to customers. The resource is linked to the current case study given that it seeks to show how IT developments are helping businesses enhance their operations in the market. Such businesses are able to track the performance of their goods and services. In addition, they are able to respond to issues raised by consumers in a timely manner.

Competitive Advantage through Information Technology by Callon (2006)

In the book, Callon (2006) emphasises on the growing need for businesses to adopt IT. However, Callon (2006) acknowledges that IT alone cannot benefit organisations and business entities. The network requires the management to put in place proper strategies to fully realise the advantages. In addition, Callon (2006) acknowledges that businesses that invest in IT expect higher returns compared to those that do not.

The book is relevant to the case study considering that it acknowledges that the mere adoption of IT is not enough to improve the performance of a given firm. According to Callon (2006), the application of this concept matters a lot. For instance, manufacturers need to be aware of the complaints and comments made by consumers with regards to their products. The management needs to know how they can access such information (Callon 2006). The new CPSC website will provide manufacturers with information about the safety of their goods from the perspective of the consumers.

From Clicking to Consideration by Wang, Wei, and Chen (2013)

The article is reported in the Decision Support Systems journal. In the article, Wang, Wei, and Chen (2013) acknowledge that IT is widely used around the globe. According to Wang et al. (2013), communication gadgets are fitted with e-commerce technology and gadgets. As such, customers can easily access information about the right products in the market. They will purchase the products that suit their particular needs (Wang et al. 2013). After purchase, the customer can review the product. The reviews assist future consumers in making decisions. For future clients to purchase a given product, they need to be assured that it does not have many safety related issues.

Consideration probability (CP) is the term used by Wang et al. (2013) to describe the likelihood of customers buying a product. The article is very relevant to the case study in question. It shows how individuals can influence others with regards to the selection of a product. The CPSC website helps in achieving this objective.

A Review of Management Decision Support Systems

Importance of DSS

As a management tool, DSS is used to analyse data concerning a particular business organisation. The tool is used by executives to determine the most viable course of action for the organisation (Turban et al. 2005). To conduct the assessments, data should be fed into the system. Using a predetermined analytical model and its associated formulae, the system is able to generate an output. The output can be in the form of numerical values, a graph, or even a chart. In most cases, the user should have knowledge about the system in order to interpret the information generated. Most of these systems are computer software. As a result, a lot of training is required for one to be able to use them.

Traditionally, organisations charge an individual or a group of people with the responsibility of assessing the impacts of certain managerial decisions on its performance. The assessments are time consuming and require a lot of manpower and human effort. Complex formulae and models are used to generate the required information (Callon 2006). In addition, there are increased chances of human error when using this approach.

With the help of the current developments in IT, organisations are able to carry out these tasks within a short time. Most of these systems are pre-programmed. As a result, they can be used for a long time. Computer programs are also flexible and can be updated as new discoveries are made. Chances of human error are eliminated. The costs of making assessments prior to key managerial decisions are also reduced. An organisation that adopts this approach will improve its competitive advantage in the market (Callon 2006).

The DSS systems are important to both businesses and consumers. In developed nations, such as the United States of America, a lot of emphasis is put on the quality of goods that are produced (Cheung & Lee 2012). The government, through the parliament, has made efforts to protect consumers from unsafe products. The authorities have achieved this by coming up with the Consumer Product Safety Act. The CPSC, an authority put in place to enforce the act, was also launched. The authority’s responsibilities include sensitising consumers, monitoring the safety of the products that are currently in the market, and banning the manufacture of goods that are deemed to pose safety risks to the users. In most cases, the authority relies on the information provided by consumers.

The CPSC Database

Recently, the CPSC developed a website that will enable consumers post information about products that are likely to cause injuries as a result of their defects (Cheung & Lee 2012). The website serves as an important source of information for individual purchasers and consumer cooperatives. The stakeholders are in a position to identify products that are likely to pose risks of injury to end users. Information on such goods is likely to spread rapidly since the website is open to any individual provided they have internet connectivity (Callon 2006). With the current technological advancements, simple communication gadgets, such as mobile handsets, have the capability to access internet resources. Users of new products are able to enlighten others about the quality of the commodities. The fact that the information in the website is user-generated makes it highly credible. The individuals posting the information do so after interacting with the products in question (Callon 2006).

The CPSC website is likely to promote responsible behaviour among manufacturers and consumers. A producer whose goods receive widespread complaints from consumers is at risk of being banned from engaging in business activities. Many of them avoid these radical measures on the part of the government by publicly responding to such complaints and promising to recall and rectify the areas that are of concern (McNurlin & Sprague 2005). Future designs of the goods in question are also changed to avoid further complaints. In addition, the website encourages consumers to act responsibly. To this end, they make sure that potentially dangerous products do not harm other users.

As a DSS, the CPSC website helps manufacturers to assess the needs of the consumers. They are able to see how their goods are performing in the market based on the reviews made by the customers (Turban et al. 2005). New companies benefit since they are able to come up with products that are free from all the defects likely to cause injuries. The manufacturers achieve this by analysing how consumers have rated similar products in the past. Manufacturers who have distributed defective goods in the past are also able to rectify their mistakes after safety issues have been raised by consumers.

Critics argue that the activities of CPSC are skewed against manufacturers in the USA. However, the producers can use the website to their advantage. They can do this by rectifying their products to achieve the desired safety standards. As a result, the manufacturer can earn back the trust of the consumers. When customers file complaints, the authority notifies the manufacturer. As such, the system serves as a DSS. The producers are given time to respond to the complaints before they are published on the website. Manufacturers can use this platform to market their products by justifying the benefits of their products (Turban et al. 2005). They can also assure consumers and affiliated organisations that their complaints are taken seriously.

It is a fact that the CPSC website has a number of benefits to the users. However, it is also associated with a number of challenges. To begin with, it is expensive to maintain DSS systems. The platforms need to be updated on a regular basis. Highly trained professionals are required to feed the systems with data and to interpret the output generated. As a result, organisations need to invest heavily in IT. In addition, frequent monitoring of the DSS is required. For example, manufacturers need to be on the lookout to be able to respond promptly to the complaints made by customers. Consumers also need to check the CPSC website on a regular basis before purchasing goods in order to ascertain their safety. The practice is time consuming and involves internet charges. Consumer cooperatives and associations need to be vigilant in order to sensitise their members. The organisations provide their clients with the necessary information before they can purchase given products (Cheung & Lee 2012).

The CPSC online database is not accessible to all persons. The greatest constraint is lack of internet connectivity (Callon 2006). Consumers who notice defects on goods may be unable to share the information via the platform if they have no access to the internet. In addition, such users are unable to access information that is already posted on the website. As such, they are likely to continue using the goods unaware of the potential dangers posed to them. Callon (2006) notes that many newly formed consumer cooperatives and associations lack such resources as computers and internet services. As a result, they are unable to make informed decisions with regards to the type of products that are beneficial or harmful to their members (Callon 2006).

Many organisations and customers are unaware of the fact that DSS is beneficial to them. The CPSC’s website and database is popular among the American populace. However, many people are still ignorant of the availability of such a platform. To safeguard the safety of these individuals, the CPSC should launch sensitisation campaigns aimed at educating the masses about the availability of such channels. Manufacturers should also be urged to be on the look-out in case complaints are made about their goods. It is important to note that the existence of DSS can only be beneficial when users are aware of its presence. In addition, the users should have the necessary skills to interpret information generated by these tools (Turban et al. 2005).

The use of the CPSC website and database as DSSs for consumer organisations has faced widespread opposition from manufacturers. Most producers view it as a platform that can be used to propagate false information about their goods. Most of the manufacturers whose products have been negatively rated have come out strongly to deny the allegations. Others have moved to court with claims that the website is used to protect the interests of their competitors. The DSS provides useful information to the customers regarding products they wish to purchase. However, it can also be used to mislead the public (Callon 2006). It is noted that consumer advocates can use the site to promote their own selfish interests. Cases of corruption have been on the rise in relation to the misuse of the platform. Claims have been made that some organisations spread false information to put their competitors out of business.

Lack of funds has negative impacts on the management of DSS. A lot of resources are required to gather information and maintain the systems (Turban et al. 2005). Most of these systems are hosted online. As a result, access to internet is required. Servers are required to use and maintain the DSS based on CPSC. The facilities are expensive installations. They are required for the storage of data contained in the database. Professionals to maintain the system need to undergo thorough training. There are already complaints by House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee that the database is expensive to maintain and is already costing taxpayers a lot of money. To this end, a number of proposals have been made to stop funding meant for the database to reduce public spending. As such, the existence of DSS is already under threat. On their part, consumer associations incur expenses when using the resource. The charges are passed to the same consumers who are to be protected by the system.

Conclusion

The executives of a business organisation are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the aims and objectives of the company are achieved in an effective and efficient manner. To realise this, smart decisions need to be made. The use of DSS has helped managers to make informed decisions on how activities should be carried out. Most DSS are supported by computer technology. Their output is interpreted and used when formulating policies (Turban et al. 2005). It is evident that DSS can be used to benefit consumers and the public at large. To this end, the CPSC’s website serves as a DSS. Consumers can make decisions on whether or not to purchase a particular product based on the information provided by others.

Consumers use the website to file complaints about defective goods that may cause injury to other users. The website also acts as a DSS for manufacturers who use the posts and comments by consumers to study the market needs. Such producers gain a competitive advantage in the industries within which they operate since they are able to come up with products that address the needs of the consumers. In spite of the many benefits associated with the use of DSS, some disadvantages do exist. For example, high costs are incurred in the maintenance of these systems. Many people are also ignorant about the existence of this facility. Lack of internet connectivity is also a constraining factor.

References

Callon, J 2006, Competitive advantage through information technology, 6th edn, Irwin/McGraw-Hill, Texas.

Cheung, C & Lee, M 2012, ‘What drives consumers to spread electronic word of mouth in online consumer-opinion platforms’, Decision Support Systems, vol. 53 no. 1, pp. 218-225.

McNurlin, B & Sprague, R 2005, Information systems management in practice, 6th edn, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

Turban, E, Leidner, D, McLean, E, & Wetherbe, J. 2005. Information technology for management: transforming organisations in the digital economy, 5th edn, Wiley, Hoboken, New Jersey.

Wang, H, Wei, Q & Chen, G 2013, ‘From clicking to consideration: a business intelligence approach to estimating consumers’ consideration probabilities’, Decision Support Systems, vol. 56 no. 1, pp. 397-405.

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