Context-aware workflow management for virtual enterprises based on coordination of agents
Although virtual enterprises (VE) make it possible for small flexible enterprises to form a collaborative network to respond to business opportunities through dynamic coalition and sharing of the core competencies and resources, they also pose new challenges and issues. Creation of VE involves dynamically established partnerships between the partners and relies on a flexible coordination scheme. The dynamic organizations formed in VE present a challenge in the development of a new methodology to dynamically allocate re-sources and deliver the relevant information to the right people at the right time. A key issue is the development of an effective workflow management scheme for VE. Multi-agent systems (MAS) provide a flexible architecture to deal with changes based on dynamic organization and collaboration of autonomous agents. Despite the extensive studies and research results on MAS, development of a design methodology to support coordination and operations is critical to the success and adoption of VE. The objectives of this research are to propose a design methodology to facilitate coordination and development of context-aware workflow management systems and achieve effective resource allocation for VE based on MAS architecture. To achieve these objectives, a scheme for coordination of agents is proposed. Petri net models are used in the coordination scheme to describe workflows and capture resource activities in VE. The interactions between agents lead to a dynamic workflow model for VE. Based on the aforementioned model, we propose architecture to dynamically generate context-aware graphical user interface to guide the users and control resource allocation based on the state of VE. An order management example is used throughout this paper to illustrate the proposed design methodology.
KeywordsVirtual enterprises Workflow Multi-agent systems Negotiation Petri nets Contract net Context-aware computing
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