Method for Optimizing Resource Allocation

In many service businesses, providers need to allocate their resources, which typically consist of a finite number of resource slots, to their customers through either an appointment process or a booking process. However, conventional resource allocation process has intrinsic inefficiency because of the resource fragmentation. The fragmented slots may become difficult to accommodate the customers' requests. Moreover, the fragmented slots may also cause lower utilization rate of the provider's resources.

This patent provides a novel approach for analyzing and ranking a number of available options within a data processing system with the goal of improving the utilization rate of service providers' resources or available units. Specifically, this patent embraces the concept of “defragmentation” to effectively manage limited resources. In one implementation, the method considers both the supply of a resource/preference and the demand of a resource/preference (e.g., service provider available time) and provides the guidance on allocating time slots to reduce schedule fragmentation. To accomplish this goal, this patent identifies slot fragmentation as one of the root causes of resource allocation inefficiency and provides an innovative solution to optimize the resource allocation by means of resource slot defragmentation. Consequently, the reserved slots/units are aggregated, leaving more open slots/units bundled together, thus allowing easier accommodation of new service requests.

An example of its application in clinical appointment scheduling is described in IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine (

Ideal applications include those markets that have a finite number of services that need to be allocated to customers through an appointment booking process or e-commerce platform. For example, customer relationship management (CRM) software revenue reached the $12 billion mark in 2011, according to an Economic Times survey by the research firm Gartner. That is a revenue boost of 13.5%, making CRM No.8 on the technology priority list for businesses, up from No.18.

Envisioned market applications disclosed in this patent include:

• Service Providers – Appointment Scheduling
- Healthcare - For example, a physician's working schedule is a resource that consists of finite time slots. Patients normally need to make appointments by selecting available time slots to see their physicians.
- Additional Examples - Telephone/cable/internet service providers, primary or specialty clinics, hair solons, auto maintenance shops, consultants, technicians, instructors, etc.

• Tickets Booking Websites
- Airlines - Passenger seats in an air flight are finite resources. Travelers typically need to book the seats (available slots) in advance through travel agencies or online.
- Similar slot booking is also common to many other service providers, such as movie theaters, sport arenas, test centers, hotels, exhibition halls, etc.

Attached files:

US 8,239,231 issued 2012-08-07   [MORE INFO]

Inventor(s): Jie Lian

Type of Offer: Sale or Licensing

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