The world is becoming increasingly linked, integrated, and complex. Globalization, which arrives
in waves of increasing and decreasing usage, results in a permanently dynamic environment. Global supply networks, logistics processes, and production facilities try to follow these trends and – if possible – anticipate the volatile demand of the market. This challenging world can no longer be mastered with static, monolithic, and inert information technology (IT) solutions; instead it needs
autonomic, adaptive, and agile systems – living systems. To achieve that, new systems not only need faster processors, more communication bandwidth, and modern software tools – more than ever they have to be built following a new design paradigm. As determined by the industrial and business environment, systems have to mirror and implement the real-world distribution of data and responsibility, the market (money)-driven decision basis for all stakeholders in the (real or virtual) market, and the goal orientation of people, which leads to on-demand, loosely coupled, communication with relevant partners (other players, roles) based on reactive or proactive activities.
This chapter provides an insight into the core challenges of todayʼs dynamics and complexity, briefly describes the ideas and goals of the new concept of software agents, and then presents and discusses industry-proven solutions in real-time environments based on this
distributed solution design.