INDEPENDENT, AND ACCESS-
INDEPENDENT DISTRIBUTED QUOTE
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to the field of distributed computer systems. Specifically, the present invention relates to the field of distributed computer systems for configuring and providing pricing and quotation information regardless of usage or access model and independent of platform type.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Pricing and quotation information is produced at different 15 points and different geographic locations in the sales process. Some of the key triggers used to produce this information include product sales, volume discounts, warranty terms, sales/lease contract terms, contract renewals or modifications, or special customer requests. Often times, 20 quotations or quotes produced as a result of these triggers vary substantially based on the business unit or geographic location for which a particular quote is targeted. These variations are also caused by the different computer platforms, systems, usage models and networks used to 25 assemble the quote information. Variations can also be caused by lack of, or differing, in-depth knowledge of the specific business rules and discounts that apply to each scenario, location, and business unit. In some cases, duplicate and redundant information must be reformatted or 30 translated to a form compatible with a component of the quote generation system. In other cases, information must be manually entered. This is due in large part to the rigid data input requirements of conventional quote configuration systems. 35
The limitations in current quote configuration systems result in quotes that are difficult to generate and maintain, which contain errors that impact the customer and the business units, and require manual entry of redundant information at each step of the process. 40
Thus, a platform-independent, usage-independent, location-independent quote configuration systems which is capable of encapsulating the business logic and business unit expertise to produce consistent, accurate results is needed. ^
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
A platform-independent, usage-independent, locationindependent quote configuration system is described. The present invention, operating in a computer network, is a 50 quote configurator comprising, 1) a client module, the client module having a platform-independent user interface for receiving quote input and command selections from a user, the quote input and command selections including product selection and selection of information indicative of business 55 rules, and 2) a server coupled to the client module across the network, the server having access to quote data and business rules, the server including a platform-independent server interface configured to receive the quote input and command selections from the client module, the server validating the go quote input based on the quote data and the business rules.
Thus, it is an advantage of the present invention over conventional systems that the present invention is based on a non-procedural data-driven work flow design. It is a further advantage of the present invention that the point of 65 service provides a real-time, interactive model for interaction on all components with the user. It is a further advantage
of the present invention that all business rules and expertise needed to provide intelligent quoting are encapsulated within the quote configuration system, and are transferable and usable anywhere on any platform. This enables the design to be scalable with localization possible to accommodate variations in attributes such as currency and price list. It is a further advantage of the present invention that the present invention is based on an open architecture to enable integration with other systems, business processes and technologies. It is a further advantage of the present invention that the present invention is platform-independent (ex. SPARCTM, RISC, X86). It is a further advantage of the present invention that the present invention is independent of usage model (ex. nomadic, remote/dial-up, internetworked, intra-networked). It is a further advantage of the present invention that the present invention is independent of access model (ex. stand-alone application, networked application, web-based application, web-based applet).
The features and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the accompanying drawings and from the detailed description of the preferred embodiment of the present invention as set forth below.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The present invention is illustrated by way of example and not limitation in the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 illustrates the system architecture of a prior art quote configuration system.
FIG. 2 illustrates the architecture of the quote configurator of the preferred embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 3 illustrates the operation of the quote configurator of the preferred embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 4 illustrates a typical data processing system or platform upon which one embodiment of the present invention is implemented.
FIG. 5 illustrates a sample screen display of the graphical user interface of the preferred embodiment.
FIGS. 6 and 7 are flowcharts illustrating the operation of the preferred embodiment.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
The present invention is a platform-independent, usageindependent, location-independent quote configuration system. In the following detailed description, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the present invention. However, it will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art that these specific details need not be used to practice the present invention. In other instances, well-known structures, interfaces and processes have not been shown in detail in order not to unnecessarily obscure the present invention.
FIG. 4 illustrates a typical data processing system or platform upon which one embodiment of the present invention is implemented. It will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art, however that other alternative systems of various system architectures may also be used. The data processing system illustrated in FIG. 4 includes a bus or other internal communication means 101 for communicating information, and a processor 102 coupled to the bus 101 for processing information. The system further comprises a random access memory (RAM) or other volatile storage device 104 (referred to as main memory), coupled to bus 101 for storing information and instructions to be executed by processor 102. Main memory 104 also may be used for