Bucknell University, a highly respected liberal arts college in central Pennsylvania, is now offering digital cable television service in all of its 1,700 residence rooms. Palisade’s PrecisionTree decision analysis tool was instrumental in Bucknell’s decision to build the network and deploy the service.
Founded in 1846, Bucknell University (BU) is a private, residential institution with about 3,500 students - nearly all undergraduate. The highly awaited cable television service, referred to as BU TV, consists of 57 channels of commercial programming and five international channels.
It all started in the spring of 2000 when the idea of providing cable television services was being discussed extensively within the institution. But it was a perceptive decision sciences student, a member of Bucknell Student Government (BSG), who suggested using quantitative decision analysis to evaluate technological alternatives. The course instructor, Management Professor Keith Willoughby, was delighted that one of his students had identified a practical application for his teaching.
A decision analysis project, led by Dr. Willoughby and Associate Dean Christopher Zappe was initiated to identify the best cable television technology. The team used Palisade’s PrecisionTree software to model the possible options and the risks involved. The five technology options: coaxial cable, fiber optic cable, unshielded twisted pair, data network, and WebTV, were evaluated in terms of installation cost, initial success (would the technology meet service expectations?), and early obsolescence (would the technology require premature replacement?).
According to Dr. Willoughby “We investigated five distinct alternatives and incorporated a variety of costs and future outcomes. The process incorporated opinions of senior administrators and staff members in the decision analysis model to improve the likelihood of acceptance.”
In a study of this nature communication is everything. PrecisionTree’s graphic analysis nature made interpreting and presenting results effortless. Dr Willoughby adds, “PrecisionTree’s graphical representations were quite valuable in communicating our modeling efforts to others. Administrators and staff members could observe the ranges over which particular alternatives were preferred.”
The PrecisionTree decision analysis showed that using Bucknell’s existing data network for digital cable television delivery had the most favorable outcome in terms of Expected Monetary Value as well as a relatively low risk. And today that analysis is a service reality!
The study is the subject of a paper by Keith Willoughby and Christopher Zappe entitled “Using Decision Analysis to Explore Cable Television Delivery”.
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