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Lesson 6 Search agents and price-bots
Objective Explain the use of search agents in eBusiness applications.

Search Agents and Price-bots

Web bot or Intelligent Agent

A Web bot or intelligent agent is a piece of software that is designed to automate a task that involves searching through large amounts of data to retrieve specific information. Some agents or bots can be used to compare or classify the information that they return to the user.

How bots are deployed

Agents and bots can be used in many different ways in eBusiness applications. The bot-spot below describes some of the ways in which bots can be used.

How Search Agents and Bots are used

1) Bot Spot 1
1) Search for information: the most obvious use is information search. these tools might be provided by a company running an E business website, by third parties as tools for use within a site or group of sites or for general use on the Internet.
2) Bot Spot 2
2) Provide a service: These bots may provide a source of revenue in many different ways, such as by selling or hiring the bot to shop or by charging companies to have their products included in this search either on a monthly or hit basis.
3) Bot Spot 3
3) Seek out a product: a bot may be used to seek out a product or types of product that match certain criteria, perform price comparisons or even act as a broker to purchase items on behalf of a customer. For example, in some auction sites, these tools can be used to automatically place bids for a user whenever he is out bid up to he's set ceiling price
4) Bot Spot 4
4) Locate content: Bots or agents may also be used by ebusiness providers to locate content, compare prices or locate potential customers. They can also act as a semi-intelligent shopping assistant that can reduce the requirement for human ‘manned’ service centers.
5) Bot Spot 5
5) Aggregate content: "Screen scrapers" or content aggregators collect content or account information from sites for repackaging on other sites.

Appropriate use of bots

As we have discussed in the Slide Show above, bots can actively and dynamically cooperate to problem-solve, complete tasks, and arrive at solutions despite incomplete or inconsistent knowledge or data. It has been argued by some that bots are harmless, by others that they are intrusive, and yet others that they are even destructive. Because bots can be intrusive, supply erroneous or redundant information, or slow down the performance of sites, they should be deployed with care. Some sites block-out the use of bots altogether or have trust and distrust lists of approved and disallowed bots. Standards are starting to emerge that specify what a bot can and cannot do. As an architect, you must consider the potential benefit of bots and agents for your solution, but also their limitations. Bots may interfere with content, or interrogate your information in their site; you should consider how the site will be referenced by bots or agents to ensure appropriate representation. For additional information on the use of bots on the Web, check the Resources page.

Intelligent agents and Web bots

Some companies are already deploying intelligent agent technology to turn Web hits into business relationships, to connect suppliers and customers with core business, and to use profiling and analysis to surface emerging patterns in their data. Others use bots to automatically retrieve information (i.e., stock prices, news, sports scores, weather, and so on) from Web sites for repackaging and inclusion in other Web sites. Some of this information is clearly copyright-protected, and some is not. What are the issues concerning copyright, branding, and accuracy/legality for this third-party information? Where else do Web bots and intelligent agents have potential and actual application for gaining competitive advantage?

Potential and actual application of Web bots and intelligent agents

It has been argued that Web bots and intelligent agents have unrealized potential in areas including telecommunications, personal digital assistants, information management, information economics, business applications, air traffic control, entertainment and interactive TV, transportation, and financial management.
In the next lesson, you will learn about the differences between push and pull technologies.

B2B Digital Marketing Strategy