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Local Intelligent Agent as Informed Sales Expert

Objective

The LIAISE funded project aims to produce a commercial tool to aid in the configuration and quotation of complex highly configurable multivendor systems along the whole systems value chain.
The LIAISE system suggests a new approach to e-commerce providing a new solution to implement B2B system and consequently new services.
The Business Model beyond LIAISE is something in between the fully open and short-term collaborative model of a marketplace, where the traditional value chain model is substituted by the most dynamic value constellation one, and the fully close long-term integration model of a rigid supply chain, where enterprises play a well definite role of long-lasting suppliers or customers in a static manner.
LIAISE new philosophy pushes a free idea of e-commerce where unlimited actors participate as in the physical reality to the competition. LIAISE philosophy is customer-centric therefore providing customers with a potentially unlimited choice of offerings, and so possessing the desired third party objectivity and industry visibility. LIAISE also comes up on the value-added analytical content needed for customers to make informed, empowered decisions.
Mechanisms of competition, negotiation and co-operation are supported by the LIAISE architecture, implementing the new paradigm of value federation.

Objectives:
To improve the supply chain by developing an extended enterprise sales assistant system for the supply of products based on a modular approach implying complex and diverse configurations following the real and exact customers' needs. As test bed the system will be applied to the selling process of Industrial Automation Systems, where complexity and modularity of the configuration and allowed architectures are strongly increasing. The end-user should be able to interact locally, easily and conveniently with a sales agent to specify a suitable equipment configuration ensuring that the set of components are compatible and sufficient for the required application. The sales agent should supply the configuration requirements to the sales department of the supplier, allowing human contact to be initiated by supplier or customer. It should also be integrated with back-office functions and upstream organisations in the value-chain. Help-desk support is to be improved by access to this stored data about installed customer equipment and software versions, enabling faster updates and thus better customer service. Internet based technologies and n-tiers architectures will constitute the infrastructure of the project, ensuring the distribution of LIAISE along public as well as private communication networks.

Work description:
The LIAISE architecture comprises 5 main modules: Configuration, Composition, Communication, Decision and Amalgamation. The communication and amalgamation modules are generic and perform lower level functions. The Composition module is designed to send queries for product data and make decisions based on this. Again, it is fairly generic. The major modules in terms of the product will be the Configuration module and the Decision module. The Configuration module is split into two parts. The first allows the user to enter their requirements in a simple and intuitive manner. It includes a visual design tool that has been developed to make it as easy as possible to adapt to new applications. The second stage uses artificially intelligent components to turn the user's requirements into a complete configuration document. By changing the rules, this can again be adapted with little effort. The Decision module uses Multi-Attribute Utility Theory and more artificial intelligence to select the best products for the user.
The Infrastructure Layer is in charge to manage the workflow created dynamically by the exigency to deal with an user's request for quotation and providing the timing and correct activation sequence of the services inside an individual node in the LIAISE scalable architecture.
There will be one special node of the federation, not corresponding to any company in the supply chain, but representing the Master LIAISE Site (LIAISE Portal), where one can find a catalogue containing the products supplied by the firms participating to LIAISE.
The catalogue will be on line and users (thin clients with a browser) will be able to browse and search it in order to choose a specific supplier for a product. Furthermore, it will be possible to access the catalogue through a servlet from any LIAISE Web Server, in order to find possible suppliers for a specific product or service having part of an user's request.

Milestones:
Modular Development: six major modules will exist within the LIAISE architecture, supported by separate databases and repositories.
Scalable architecture: the system will not need to know how many suppliers are within the LIAISE environment and so can grow and shrink dynamically.
Innovative negotiation process: LIAISE will operate a cyclical negotiation system, allowing customers to improve their offers in the light of their performance against each other.
This system will incorporates artificial intelligence in the form of rule-based and case-based reasoning.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

SIEMENS ORSI AUTOMATION S.P.A.
Address
Via Piero E Alberto Pirelli 10
20100 Milano
Italy

Participants (5)

BRITISH MARITIME TECHNOLOGY LIMITED
United Kingdom
Address
Orlando House Waldegrave Road 1
TW11 8LZ Teddington - Middlesex
EUROPEAN DYNAMICS ADVANCED SYSTEMS OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS INFORMATICS AND TELEMATICS S.A.
Greece
Address
Kifissias Avenue 209 & Arkadiou
15124 Maroussi, Athens
KORONA INZENIRING D.D.
Slovenia
Address
Cesta V Mestni Log 88 A
1001 Ljubljana
PROCI, S.A.
Spain
Address
Parque Industrial Pisa, Calle Brujula 62
41927 Mairena Del Aljarafe (Sevilla)
TXT E-SOLUTIONS SPA
Italy
Address
Via Frigia 27
20126 Milano