Supporting Innovative Competitive Strategies as Mass Customization by Pairing E-Commerce Techniques with Agent Technology

Supporting Innovative Competitive Strategies as Mass Customization by Pairing E-Commerce Techniques with Agent Technology

Klaus Turowski (Otto-von-Guericke-Universitëit Magdeburg, Germany)
Copyright: © 2000 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-878289-76-6.ch017
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The Internet has created a tremendous opportunity to conduct business electronically. By this, innovative business concepts—such as virtual enterprises, supply chain management, or one-to-one marketing— and advanced competitive strategies—such as mass customization which encompass these business concepts—may be followed up much more efficiently. However, competitive strategies like mass customization require sophisticated information infrastructures to support the indispensable business-to-business electronic commerce—even for small and medium enterprises taking part in a virtual enterprise that pursues mass customization (MC). Especially electronic data interchange (EDI), understood as a means to exchange business data, is crucial to set up and maintain virtual enterprises. Thus, there is a high demand on software that provides an inter-application system exchange of business data between companies, and which is inexpensive as well as easy to install and use. In this contribution we propose an approach to support distributed, but logically integrated inter-company business processes by applying e-commerce techniques paired with agent technology. Doing so, inter-company data exchange, procurement, and coordination of production in case of MC are improved by means of a multi-agent system. After discussing specific business requirements of companies that cooperatively produce a specific good or service, we show how an automated inter-company communication can be provided, and how this further develops into an agent-based system that automates procurement and inter-company coordination of production. By using the extensible markup language (XML) as an important cross-section technique, together with common business communication standards, we show how the border of heterogeneity between different (distributed) application systems can be overcome. With this, the business communication protocol is set up. Taking this protocol as a basis, we further present a component framework, which is implemented using the JavaBeans technology, that supports an efficient inter-company communication. In addition, we show how this approach may further develop to a means for inter-company coordination.

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