Imaras© (InterNeg multi-attribute reverse auction system) is an online auction system powered by Invite©. It allows for the specification of preferences, assessment of offers, management of communication, graphical display of the auction's progress, and other functions. The system is flexible and can be used as:
- a game,
- a demonstration decision support system (DSS),
- a auction simulator,
- a demonstration auction support system, and
- a research and training tool.
Using Imaras requires following a sound approach to auction. There are three basic phases of a auction:
Specific terms used in auction analysis and in Imaras are explained in our glossary.
As a game, Imaras provides an opportunity to practice and sharpen your auctioning/bidding skills. For inexperienced auctioneers or bidders, Imaras's clear steps provide a guide through the auction process. For more experienced practitioners, the system allows the player to graphically track the development of the auction through numerous rounds of offers/bids. As an auctioneer or buyer, you may elaborate arguments for your position through the message facility.
- DSS for the pre-auction phase
One of the key features of Imaras is that it can act as an individual decision support system. Before beginning the actual auction, players must consider the importance of each issue as well as the acceptability of each option within an issue. This forces the bidder to define her/his preferences over issues and to consider what trade-offs may be required. The system also presents estimates of the utility of the various combinations of options and overall utility of complete packages.
- Auction simulator
Imaras can also act as a simulator to prepare you for a particular auction. The system is designed so that cases may be entered by users. When faced with an upcoming auction, the user can engage in mock auctions to understand how the issues may emerge once the auction has begun in earnest. One could even use Imaras to parallel an ongoing auction. After each bid or each round other bidders' bid could be entered to understand what progress, if any, is being made and what trade-offs are emerging.
- System for real-life auctions
Imaras can also act as an NSS and support and facilitate real-life auctions. The system is designed so that several parties who can agree on the issues and the possible options for those issues can bid over the Web. This is an obvious advantage when the parties are widely separated and may have difficulty arranging meetings.
- Research and training tool
Finally, Imaras has an international dimension. The current implementation of the system links players from around the world. This reflects the current reality of economic organizations. Through Imaras users can study and practice auction involving people from diverse cultures to help understand how different values and expectations may influence the auction process.
There are three basic phases that are usually followed in any auction:
- Preparation for the auction, during which you assess the situation, identify the stakeholders, and develop a very clear understanding of the issues and interests involved. To help you through this phase, Imaras provides you with a detailed description of your auction case, and then it guides you through a sequence of steps in which you state the importance of each issue and each alternative. This phase is also called preference elicitation. In some situations, the preferences may be given so you will play as an auction agent on behalf of the principal. The information obtained is used by Imaras in the next phase to give you helpful feedback when constructing new offers or evaluating your counterpart's offers.
- The actual auction phase during which the parties exchange a series of bids and messages, creating a suitable atmosphere for the auction, presenting your side of the case, and bidding until you reach an agreement. Imaras gives you menus by which you can construct bids and messages. It further supports you by displaying a rating (score) beside each bid based on your preference information from the first phase, and by plotting a graph of the history of your auction (entirely from your perspective).
- The conclusion is reached when the buyer accepts an offer from one of the bidders. Following this there is a brief questionnaire and an opportunity to make comments.