Filtering and Negotiating Technologies (Intelligent Agents)

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Filtering and Negotiating Technologies (Intelligent Agents)

Intelligent agents are software programs that work in the background to carry out specific, repetitive, and predictable tasks for an individual user or an organization. To accomplish tasks or make decisions on behalf of the user or the organization, the agent uses a built-in or learned knowledge that was obtained from the user or organization. For example, when a person specifies his or her needs, constraints, and preferences, the Internet travel agent would then find some possibilities based upon the travels that have previously been made by the person. We are now seeing many organizations use the intelligent agents as their filtering, negotiating, and coordinating technologies.

As a filtering tool for the digital library, the intelligent agent is used to retrieve information from distributed sources and filter information on contents. As a brokering tool, the intelligent agent finds information not only about products of a specific company but also about prices from another company that provides competing products. By bidding prices based on the competing prices, the intelligent agent helps bidding companies negotiate the prices and specifications of the products. Bui et al. (2002) reported on a Web-enabled hospital that connects its patients to doctors and insurance companies through the Internet. The intelligent agent was used to monitor patients’ health conditions in real time, negotiate costs of treatment between different health-care providers, and verify insurance coverage of a particular medical treatment. Agent-based systems can also be used for intelligent automated coordination in managing inter- and intraorganizational business processes, including task scheduling and resource allocation (Deschner, Hofmann, & Bodendorf, 2000).

Many efforts to develop better intelligent agents are underway. For example, Kang and Han (2003) suggested a broker-based synchronous transaction algorithm that can improve the process of transaction between sellers and buyers. The intelligent agents are now being used to realize mass customization. Burgwinkel (2002) also reported on electronic negotiation and contract using XML that allowed business partners to synchronize obligations, rights, and penalties.

Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon.com, mentioned, “If I have 3 million customers on the Web, I should have 3 million stores on the Web.” It is possible only because intelligent agents can create a unique store for each of the Amazon customers. Turowski (2002) showed how multiple companies used intelligent agents to interchange business data and coordinate their business activities in providing services and products.



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Summary and Conclusions

An IOS is an information and management system that transcends organizational boundaries via electronic linkages with its trading partners. Extranets are the core technology for building IOS. There is a host of other technologies that serve as the infrastructure for managing IOS. They include coordination technologies, monitoring technologies, filtering and negotiating technologies (intelligent agents), and decision-making and knowledge management technologies. This chapter briefly discussed each of these technologies. We examined the architecture and components of both public network extranets and VPN extranets, along with the applications of the extranet. During the late 1990s, an increasing number of companies opened part of their intranets and made information available to their business partners for facilitating business, thereby creating a dynamic wide area network that links suppliers, customers, and other business partners in a secure electronic environment. We are now witnessing the emergence of industrial networks (extended enterprises, integrated industry-wide systems) that link the enterprise systems of multiple firms in the same industry vertically (manufacturers, suppliers, and suppliers’ supplier) as well as horizontally (linking competing firms in an industry).



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