Enterprise Information Systems


The department of Enterprise Information Systems of ISI conducts basic and applied research focusing on edge technologies for industrial operations and enterprise environments. Α significant dimension is the area of business administration for applications and solutions in production industry demanding management procedures, as for instance the electric power market, the natural gas market and in general the market of commodities and energy resources used by industry. At present the department’s focus is on the electric power market.

The above aims comply with ISI’s vision & goals and are, or planned to be, fulfilled through:

  • Research and Development of high-technology products, as well as services, either autonomously or jointly with industry and enterprises, potentially custom-made if it is required and they offer high-added value and competitive advantage.
  • Support of the Greek industry, in order to be equipped with leading-edge technology and achieve competitive advantage.
  • Cooperation with technology & manufacturing industry in the region and nationally, aiming at better linking of research, production and exploitation of research results.
  • Internationalisation of activities, particularly in relation to EU, through competitive programmes, vis-à-vis direct contracts with industry and commercial exploitation of research results.
  • Elaboration of R&D programmes and market surveys, aiming at participation at large development projects of European/national scope with public/private organisations.

There is often ambiguity for the terms Enterprise Information System (EIS) and information system. The latter term implies a set of interacting artifacts/human activities that perform functions involving the handling of data and information, including data collection, creation, editing, processing & storage; and information selection, filtering, aggregation, presentation and use. Thus, an IS system includes components that are not focused on decision-making. In contrast, enterprises rely on EIS’s in order to manage operations, compete effectively in the marketplace and supply services. Therefore, in business, people & organizations inquire about & utilize information for making sound decisions & for solving organization problems.

The directions ISI had been active in the domain of enterprise systems are: intra-enterprise & inter-enterprise integration. Intra-enterprise integration addresses efficient interoperation for different applications and systems. Inter-enterprise integration refers to interoperation between geographically distributed enterprises enabling the creation of partnerships and even to collaborate closely and/or expose functionalities between one-another, in order to provide for e-business applications. The intra-/inter-enterprise research direction has been expected to provide for the European manufacturing industry a strong competitive edge, with regard to flexibility, adaptability and efficiency, making possible new novel products and services for standalone manufacturing plants and separate participating enterprises.

Yet, the EIS approach is not applicable merely for the manufacturing environment. EIS has evolved to a business management system that seeks to enable enterprise-wide integration of all functional areas of an organization. EIS is one of three enterprise-class applications, besides Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Supply Chain Management (SCM), and fundamentally encompasses the entire enterprise, irrespective of size, number of plants or location. In the EIS rapidly evolving framework, the information subsystems being integrated may potentially be based on Internet technology, data ware-housing aspects, or WW Web-enabled inter-organization subsystems. These include transaction processing systems (TPS), management information systems (MIS), decision-support systems (DSS), office automation systems (OAS) and expert systems (ES). 

Accordingly, at present the research activity of the department is twofold:

A) Development of intelligent integrated systems that offer support of decision-making and business situation awareness for enterprise business development by processing large volumes of data. The target users of such systems are those subjects that are authorized to conduct such activity and can take actions for business development.

B) Management procedures and business administration for applications and solutions in the electric power market vs. the production/transmission/distribution industry.

Collaborative business decision making platforms

Most large information systems (IS) today consist of many independent applications. EIS generates a robust foundation for integration of heterogeneous applications, protocols and formats. Businesses today must deal with new markets, new competition and increasing customer expectations. Growth has often slowed with lower profit margins. This has placed stress on organizations as EIS has to efficiently synchronize demand, supply and production, support product quality, lower total costs in the complete sup-ply chain, provide more reliable delivery dates and better service to customers, diminish stock to a minimum, condense throughput times, etc. The EIS Application is a very powerful tool in enterprise perspectives. It takes into consideration logistics, the financial function, supplier, customer on one side with its differentiated approach and on the others, correlates itself with contemporary integrated systems like CRM and ERP. It also facilitates in analysis of business perspectives and help in building databases assisting business decisions by authorized management personnel. 

From a business perspective, enterprise information networks have invaded our professional lives and have become a key part of activities. Distributed computing and online access to information are changing the way information is shared. Individuals increasingly take cues from one another rather than from other sources like corporations. A number of tools are available that offer new ways of organizing and structuring interactions. Such tools include business management, creation of groups or events, scheduling of polls or meetings, etc.

This effort aims at conducting R&D for platform(s) that can be integrated with EIS to enable the use by enterprises of intelligent collaborative business/market decision mechanisms. Such platforms will also be used by government agencies for market monitoring and regulation. From a technology viewpoint such platforms aim at aggregating business case information from enterprise sources in conjunction with information from a variety of different sources, media formats (text, images, and videos), and different access media communication techniques. To the best of our knowledge, the aggregation of this kind of information for enterprise applications in the framework of EIS has not yet been addressed to this level of generality/flexibility, and the outcome can be regarded as first experiment in this direction.

Management of the electric power market

In the previous decades, the electric power industry in most European countries has transited from vertically integrated monopolies (controlled by governments) towards a free-to-trade and competition-oriented market. In the European Union, the Electricity Directive (1996/92/EC) represented an important step towards market opening in the electricity supply industry. The EU-member states were first driven to comply with this directive in 1999. A subsequent electricity directive (2003/54/EC) required that all non-household customers could freely choose their electricity supplier. A common approach followed was to separate the electricity generating functions from the monopoly functions of the transmission and distribution (still under control of state owned corporations). 

The role of the electricity market has also changed, now allowing trading between generators, retailers and other financial intermediaries. Wholesale transactions in the physical commodity are typically settled by a supervisory authority which is the grid operator. In most European countries, a power exchange is now based on a voluntary marketplace. A power exchange provides a spot market (mainly day-ahead) for transactions in the electricity grid to be carried out on the next day. Participants submit their purchase or sale orders electronically. The supply and demand are aggregated and compared in the power exchange to decide the market price for each hour of the following day. 

Apart from spot pricing in the electricity market, options and derivatives pricing have been established as a mean to manage more efficiently and profitably the financial risk associated with electricity price volatility (which in turn can be caused by variations in the production rates, condition of the transmission and distribution system, pay-off capability etc.) Derivatives contracts traded in power exchanges include the so-called forward contracts, futures, swaps and options. These new pricing schemes need to be supported by efficient computational forecasting and accuracy assessment tools and the role of the Industrial Systems Institute to this direction will be decisive. 

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