Business is increasingly conducted over the Internet. In recent years various platforms have been established that support the exchange of goods and services over the Internet. One of the most widespread platforms is the Electronic Marketplace. To participate on an Electronic Marketplace the internal and external business processes of an organization need to be adapted or new ones created for doing business electronically (e-Business), but the more complex processes become, the more alignment and regulation effort is needed.
The main drawbacks of Electronic Marketplaces are that they are either insufficiently regulated, resulting in fraud or biased trading, or that they are too restrictive which prohibits participants from efficiently exchanging goods or services. Another issue with Electronic Marketplaces is that the non-standard interaction with the market and its participants might represent a barrier to people who are used to interaction patterns from the real world.
Users need relevant information to decide what to buy, when to buy and from whom to buy to benefit from their participation in the market. In recent years the Internet has become one of the main sources for information. However, information on the World Wide Web, suffers from issues such as the sheer amount of ever expanding unstructured data, the difficulty to differentiate between relevant and irrelevant information and that information is scattered over multiples Web Sites. In contrast, the Semantic Web, which is an extension of the World Wide Web, offers structured information that is interpretable by machines. The advantage of the Semantic Web over the World Wide Web is that it can be accessed more precisely and more accurate searches can be conducted due to its structured nature, but it cannot compete with the World Wide Web in terms of pure data amount. To address the identified issues this work concentrates on (1) the development and implementation of solutions for the formation and regulation of Electronic Marketplaces via a Multi Agent System and (2) the formulation and implementation of approaches to acquire and search relevant information by means of a hybrid search mechanism which leverages information from the World Wide Web and the Semantic Web and a user-friendly interactive ontology-aware user interface.