Dr. Markus Stolze
IBM Zurich Research Laboratory
Saumerstr. 4 CH-8803 Rueschlikon Switzerland
phone: +41/1/724 8263 fax : +41/1/724 8953
Electronic Product Catalogs enable users to find, compose, compare, and buy products electronically. Catalogs for insurance products have to account for the fact that these products have a rich and customisable structure. This is why existing cataloging tools do not work very well for insurance products. In my talk I will illustrate how the structure of insurance product knowledge can be used to improve catalog searching and catalog maintenance. I will also point to two important challenges which I see as related to the issue of knowledge management: the creation and management of insurance ontologies for open catalogs and the cataloging of unstructured product information.
For a number of years I have been performing research dealing with the problem of how to develop knowledge based systems in such a way that it is easy to "get knowledge into them and out again".
I first got interested in this topic when I developed an "expert maintainable" knowledge based system (Bunke, Stolze (1989) INDEX - A Diagnostic Expert System for a mail inserter machine, Microcomputer Applications 8(1), 27-33). Later my interested shifted to include also the usage aspects of knowledge based systems and how to enable users to make best use of the knowledge contained in a such a system. (Stolze (19994) From system requirements to appropriate knowledge representations: a case study. Proceedings AI for Applications, 156-162).
While being at the University of Colorado I worked in a research group that investigated evolutionary approaches to the problem of knowledge based system development and how such systems can be used as resources for communities of practitioners. (Fischer, G., Lindstaedt, S., Ostwald, J., Stolze, M., Sumner, T., Zimmermann, B. (1995). From Domain Modelling to Collaborative Domain Construction. Proceedings DIS'95.)
Here at IBM research in Zurich I am now involved in a project where we create technology components for flexible product catalogs.