Towards an Online Distribution Structure?
AgentLink News (5).
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For many years intelligent agents have been seen as holding much promise for e-business. Applications of web intelligence are software programs that execute functions on behalf of a user on the internet, such as searching, comparing, learning, negotiating and collaborating. Intelligent agents combine at least a few of these functions. In the Netherlands agents are receiving increasing attention, good examples being the products of agent builders Tryllian and Smarthaven. Tryllian recently launched the Gossip-agent and has been successful with it in the United States, where huge interest exists for a commercial application of this concept. Tryllian’s ambitions are high: their aim is to set a world standard for agent platforms. The fact that Stichting NLnet and the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam recently obtained a ten-year budget for a research project aimed at the application of intelligent agents to privacy and security issues is indicative of the interest and the importance that is currently attributed to agent technology. The emergence of ecommerce on a massive scale, the mobile internet and the ever growing need for businesses to improve customer contact mean a definitive breakthrough for web intelligence applications and agent technology in particular. Moreover, renewed interest in agents corresponds with the quest to find a fitting interface between the user and the WWW. Within 5 years it might be hopelessly outdated to surf the web - will every business have its own web site, visited by endlessly searching and
clicking customers? In e-business there appears to be a huge gap in the value added of online fulfilment. The aim should be to minimise the so-called sacrifice gap; the difference between what customers want and what they eventually get. Agents will offer a solution to this problem, and will become a discriminating factor in the evolution of an online distribution structure.
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