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Research Links - May 2008 - Safety and Fairness
Professor Morad Benyoucef
Telfer School Researcher Establishes Lab to Create the Next Generation of E-Commerce Applications.
Anyone who has ever purchased a product from Amazon, conducted a transaction via eBay or set up a personal profile on Facebook understands the importance of trust and transparency in positive online relationships. As such, as consumer demand grows for more complex online transactions, so too will the call for increasingly sophisticated applications that foster greater safety and fairness between participants in online transactions.
No one appreciates the complexities and the promise of electronic commerce more than Dr. Morad Benyoucef. A recognized expert in the field, the Telfer School associate professor recently created the e-Marketplaces for Safe and Fair Trade (e-MP) Laboratory. Sponsored by grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Province of Ontario, the e-MP Laboratory will enable Dr. Benyoucef—along with research colleagues from the University of Ottawa’s School of Information Technology and Engineering—to design, develop and deploy the next generation of applications to conduct safe and fair commercial negotiations online (e-negotiations).
“Electronic marketplaces are the trade infrastructures of the future,” he says. “But to take full advantage of the capabilities of e-commerce, online businesses need to address the lack of trust that trading partners have in electronic interactions by providing them with the tools and services that enable them to negotiate even the most complex deals transparently and efficiently.”
Safety and fairness in online transactions are promoted by reputation and e-negotiation systems. According to Dr. Benyoucef, most current systems rely on simple ad hoc mechanisms which are usually hard-coded into the systems.
“If e-commerce is to truly fulfill its promise, these mechanisms must be separated from the system that implements them,” he says. “In fact, new reputation and e-negotiation systems must have the characteristics of the best kinds of software: web-based, affordable, traceable, reliable, secure, scalable, easy to use and personalize, and open to integration with other information systems.”
If designed in this way, Dr. Benyoucef is confident these systems will boost the fairness and safety of online transactions, lower the costs associated with e-negotiations and generate better commercial agreements between consumers, businesses and other organizations, including governments.
“Perhaps the greatest unrealized potential for e-negotiations involves governments and the way they conduct procurement,” he says. “I can only imagine the opportunities that would be unleashed if we could design e-negotiation systems that gave all governments the assurance to perform their procurement activities online.”
If the e-MP Laboratory is able to achieve this kind of breakthrough success, Dr. Benyoucef contends that the Telfer School should receive the lion’s share of the credit.
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- Sandra Schillo and Diane Isabelle are the 2013 recipients of the Telfer-Sprott Research Fund
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