By Doug Bartholomew Imagine being able to continuously gather both demand and supply data from all points within a manufacturer's network, and to react accordingly to balance orders with production needs. That's the lofty goal of SAP AG's intelligent agent technology expected to be released a year from now as part of the mySAP Supply Chain Management system. "The ultimate goal is to create a truly adaptive supply network that can sense and respond to rapidly evolving conditions so that partners can intelligently cooperate to keep demand and supply in close alignment and efficiently coordinate the fulfillment process," says Claus Heinrich, SAP executive board member. "We believe that intelligent agents will be key to resolving the increasing challenges companies are faced with in participating and managing global adaptive supply networks." SAP is working with BiosGroup Inc., a consulting and software firm specializing in the use of complexity science (see Going Chaotic) and agent-based concepts, to define and create adaptive intelligent agents. SAP plans to release the first version of intelligent agents during the second quarter of 2002. "The supply network of the future will closely resemble complex adaptive systems, where multiple independent agents make local decisions leading to complex interactions," says Stuart Kauffman, founding general partner and chief scientific officer of BiosGroup, based in Santa Fe, N. Mex. "As we have seen from our work with clients like Procter & Gamble Co., intelligent agent technology can reduce out-of-stocks and excess inventory by as much as 75%."