‘Autonomous negotiation between computer systems offers great economic benefits in purchasing,’ says UT researcher Holger Schiele. Schiele is involved in researching the alignment of customer wishes with the possibilities and restraints of supply chains and is one of very few scientists in the world working on negotiation avatars. ‘The current avatars are still negotiating simple products. But in the future they will be able to negotiate highly complex products and services. Think, for example, of products with so many facets and so many suppliers, that as a buyer you would never be sure of reaching the best negotiation outcome: it would take too much time. Negotiation avatars will be able to identify the most desirable solution from a huge variety of options in a minimum of time – and tailored to the negotiation criteria agreed upon by the user or the chain. This kind of solution will benefit the whole chain.’
Schiele is also involved in developing other examples of smart supply chain solutions. One of these is blockchain technology, a computer solution that ensures complete transparency throughout the whole supply chain. This allows all the participants to have the same information on prices, markets, contracts and much more – so everyone benefits from the most favourable prices and deliveries.
Another example of a smart supply chain solution: a learning system that can predict buying behaviour. Schiele: 'This kind of predictive system can ensure that the products or product characteristics buyers want are immediately available, for example, at the supermarket. One of the immediate results will be a reduction in cost, as there will be fewer unsold products left over, which means less waste and a lower price. There is a lot to be gained in the supply chain by learning to apply these kinds of technology better.’
Want to know more? Contact our Behavioural, Management and Social sciences (BMS) department.