Since the first decision support systems came into existence in the early seventies, software vendors have focused most of their attention on meeting the needs of a relatively small number of technically competent "power" users. These users spend hours, days or weeks analyzing important strategic business issues. They require access to huge amounts of raw data, often culled from multiple sources, and robust analytic tools to transform that data into informational content--primarily reports and graphs.

Although early mainframe-based decision support tools provided powerful analytic capabilities, they were complex and difficult to use, seldom reaching beyond the core group of power users within an enterprise. In the mid eighties, vendors began to introduce client/server technologies that extended decision support capabilities to users who were somewhat less technically knowledgeable than the traditional power users.

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