B2B Electronic Commerce: Where do Agents Fit In?

M. Brian Blake

With the inception of the Internet, huge opportunities have arisen for intelligent automation of business-based transactions. Intelligent agent architectures have gained acceptance in implementing this domain and supporting electronic commerce and other Internet-based transactions. This use of agents in electronic commerce has mostly been directed toward applications that support transactions between businesses and consumers (B2C). Another important domain is the automation of transactions that occur between businesses (B2B). Historically, legacy B2B systems have operated over private networks that are both inflexible and expensive. The success and acceptance of B2C applications over the Internet coupled with the expense and inflexibility of legacy B2B systems has led to the call for more research in B2B technologies that occur over the Internet. Moreover, agent researchers must rise to the challenge to offer agent-based solutions for the intelligent automation of B2B interoperability. In this paper, the problem space of the B2B domain is characterized and areas are suggested where agent researchers can initiate the development of agent-based B2B technologies and systems.

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