Within the realm of decision support methodologies, two very different paradigms are vying for the attention of enterprise. The first is what I call the embedded approach to decision support. The embedded approach to decision support emphasizes scientific logic and rigor, and is grounded firmly in the traditional disciplines of operations research, systems analysis, decision analysis, and risk analysis.
Embedded Decision Support Methodologies
The second still emerging approach is what I call the embodied approach to decision support. The embodied approach to decision support traces its roots to the information technology movement and enjoys critical acclaim for its potential for automated performance monitoring, business intelligence, and business analytics.
Embodied Decision Support Methodologies
Note that the content-validity of the embedded approach is widely accepted amongst professional researchers and analysts as a body of knowledge. The literature underlying the embedded approach is vast and rich in empirical evidence supporting the validity and reliability of its methods. This extant literature regarding the embedded approach is synonymous with the disciplines of operations research, systems analysis, decision analysis, and risk analysis.
The content-validity of the still emerging embodied approach remains in question. Researchers and analysts are still debating many of the terms used in the embodied approach, and a broad consensus regarding what exactly business intelligence and business analytics entail is not yet evident. The existing literature supporting the effectiveness of embodied methods is mostly descriptive with scant empirical evidence to support its validity and reliability as a proven decision support methodology.
The significance of the differentiation between embedded and embodied methods lies in the warranties that each provide the decision maker. An impressive quality of the embedded approach is that all the terms and concepts used are clearly defined and widely accepted by professional researchers and analysts thus enabling users to articulate universally their findings and recommendations.
In contrast, the lack of consensus regarding the validity and reliability of embodied methodologies limits the utility of what we know to be business intelligence and business analytics. Indeed, the methodological frameworks for business intelligence and business analytics are still emerging in the form of dashboard reporting systems and other untested visualization methods that some researchers argue can lead to cognitive distortions of the evidence uncovered by such methods.
Future consilience between the practitioners of embedded and embodied methods is far from complete or even certain. More empirical evidence will be needed before the embodied approach can be fully converged or enjoined within the deeper conceptual foundations of embedded methodologies. In the mean time, decision makers are advised to take precautions to ensure that embedded methodologies take the lead in verifying and confirming the findings and recommendations of embodied technologies.
 Note that risk analysis is not to be confused with risk management, which is a different function and discipline all together.
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