by Ingo Müller
Preprint series: 02-06 , Reports on Computer Science
Abstract: E-marketplaces are trading platforms that offer e-commerce online trade between several buying and selling companies. They enable good trading possibilities by supporting different business models such as multi-supplier catalog-based e-sales and e-procurement, pinboard or exchange
system as well as several types of auctions. E-marketplaces give their participants the ability on the one side to acquire new trading partners or even new markets and on the other side to simplify their procurement and sales processes for reducing costs. This sector of e-commerce
is growing rapidly and is predicted to reach 37 percent of overall e-commerce, generating total revenues up to 6 trillion US dollars worldwide by the end of 2004 [22, 26].
The main goal of e-marketplaces in their formation phase from the end of 1995 to 1998 was to bring different trading partners together. However, the requirements on e-marketplaces already increased within this phase. Companies demand additional features for lowering costs and for
automation and optimization of their business processes. According to this, the ostensible task for e-marketplaces in the second phase from 1998 to 2001 was to offer more value adding services through intensively support the value chain such as with offering services for initiation,
fulfillment, and completion of trading transactions including shipment, payment and logistic services.
Nevertheless, today’s e-marketplaces lack of fully automated business processes and still require a significant manual effort by human users.
The mobile agent technology might take e-commerce trading to the next phase. Mobile agents are intelligent, independent, and pro active electronic representatives of businesses such as buyers, suppliers, customers, or even whole companies which can relieve marketplace participants
from lots of routine works. The mobile agent technology can be a suitable approach for resolving the given problems. On the one hand intelligent stationary agents add automated trading capabilities and intelligent negotiation models for example for auctions, request for quotes, and request for proposals and on the other hand mobile agents can easily offer connections to mobile devices such as personal digital assistants or mobile phones.
Besides, mobile agents add even more business opportunities because they can represent a company on different marketplaces everywhere in the world at the same time without human involvement. This can lead to a new quality of saving costs while expanding business activities.
The following document describes the requirements for a new approach of an e-marketplace called InterMarket, which integrates the mobile agent technology. A feasibility study, made for two existing software applications, the mobile-agent system Tracy and the e-commerce platform
Enfinity, investigates the ability to combine both solutions to form the new agent-based e-marketplace. In conclusion, recommendations are made for not yet fulfilled features to reach the identified requirements. Finally, a general architecture should be the foundation for further
refinement and for a possible research project.
Keywords: Mobile Software Agents, E-Commerce, Feasibility Study