ERCIM News No.36 - January 1999
Tacton Configurator - Sales Configuration Support
by Lars Bergman
Matching customer requirements with combinations of components from a configurable products line is the core of the Tacton Configurator. As many companies are moving from selling products to selling systems this is a very important area for improving sales efficiency and effectiveness. Tacton Configurator has been developed within SICS, Swedish Institute of Computer Science, in the period of 1992 to 1997. The first industrialized version was released 1997. In 1998 a spin-off company, Tacton Systems, was established. Today the new company employs 15 people as a result of a flying start and rapid expansion. Main customers are four business units of Ericsson where some of the applications are in broad use.
When selling a complex system, as for instance telephone switching systems, composition of the right system as viewed from customer needs and pricing is often a matter of weeks traditionally. Required is a mass of product information and input from knowledgeable people. With an application based on Tacton Configurator the reported time for configuring and pricing is reduced to seconds. This in turn has impact on the vendor competitiveness in a sales situation as well as it gives considerably improved efficiency in the sales process.
Tacton Configurator is a generic off-the-shelf software. It is adapted by creating a product configuration model and by connecting to other relevant software. The model is built by using a component oriented modelling language to describe configurable and fixed components at all levels as well as the properties of the components. Also the conditions for configuration has to be described in the model, as well as the parameters of customer requirements which are used to drive the end-user dialogue.
Tacton Configurator is the result of research and development in the ISL, Intelligent Systems Laboratory within SICS, where the configurator was called Obelics. Domains to be mentioned are logic programming and constraints programming. The powerful and efficient programming systems SICStus Prolog and Oz, have been the enabling tools for the Obelics development. The research group makes the core of the new spin-off company, Tacton Systems, with Klas Orsvärn as the managing director who defended his thesis on Knowledge Modelling with Libraries of Task Decomposition Methods in 1996. The Tacton website can be found at http://www.tacton.com
Klas Orsvärn - Tacton Systems
Tel: +46 8 690 07 50