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Smart E-Business research group

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Algorithms and Software for Centralized Supply Chain Management (SCM)

Easy 24 X 7 access to the internet promises an unprecedented level of information sharing throughout the supply chain. Our goal is to develop highly intelligent software to be hosted on an Application Service Provider (ASP) that can provide a host of services for partners in the supply chain such as:
  • Demand/Sale forecasts at any node in the chain by analyzing long and short-term trends, seasonality, cyclicity, etc.
  • Triggers and alerts which inform entities of sudden surges or slumps in sales of different items
  • Computation of re-order points and quantities based on updated POS (point of sale) and lead time information
  • Payment gateway functionality to effect funds transfer from buyer to seller account by having direct connection to the banking network
  • Facilities to mine sales information to identify, for example, co-relations between sales of related items, the effect of promotions/discounts on sales volume/profits, etc.
  • Information regarding transport vehicle availability to the supplier and information regarding capacity planning, optimal routes/scheduling, delivery quantities (in the case of partial shipments), etc. to the 3PL provider.
The object-oriented approach is ideally suited to ASP-based SCM. A typical node in the supply chain will include role-based components such as purchase, sales, inventory, transportation and forecasting departments with both, intra as well as inter-node linkages. Since the design will incorporate complex and possibly changing user requirements, there is much scope to exploit a number of structural and creational design patterns. Some of our clients may already be using an in-house ERP system. Advanced techniques in enterprise application integration would be needed in that case involving the use of integration patterns.


Different forecasting techniques for a variety of applications such as retail sales, electric power consumption, share prices, etc. are researched. Techniques experimented with include variations of Holt-Winter forecasting, ARIMA (Auto-regressive Integrated Moving Average) and neural networks. We study the effect of decomposing a time series into trend, seasonal and irregular (noise) components. Multiple "experts" are used to forecast each component separately and then the forecasts are combined to yield superior forecasts. We are also actively investigating short-term forecasting of electric load. Here, three dimensions of seasonality are in evidence - during the day, week and year. We also factor the effects of temperature and humidity - these are positively correlated with power consumption in the Bombay area. Finally, to address the numerous application domains, we are creating a high-performance forecast engine that can "talk" to multiple packages (such as SAS and others that we are building) and then use combining.

Network and Database Security

Should DB access control be enforced in the application or database tiers? In the traditional application development model, applications and the database are within the same boundary of trust. In the case of centralized SCM, however, multiple business partners in the SC are permitted to host their custom-designed software on the ASP. For this reason, we propose a database tier firewall which filters or transforms each SQL query generated by the applications. There are a number of relevant issues such as the specification/representation/updation of access constraints, translation of high-level access constraints to a level understood by the firewall and DBMS, performance implications, etc.

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