The European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP) provides rich information and services that enable better and more targeted interactions between cluster organizations and their members. ECCP seeks to improve performance and increase competitiveness through the stimulation of European and international cluster cooperation.
The ECCP must keep pace with changes in the needs of the users in order to maintain its usefulness over a long period of time. As a result, it was vital to create an integrated, permanent means for users to provide their ideas.
Inovex GmbH, in cooperation with ZENIT GmbH and Clusterland Upper Austria GmbH, were responsible for the development and implementation of a collaboration platform on behalf of the European Commission.
The goals to be fulfilled with the platform included:
- Providing information of various kinds (e.g., profiles, documents, multimedia) to players in the cluster community, including powerful search facilities.
- Enabling individuals in the cluster community to share and maintain their social networks, e.g. by providing various communication and collaboration tools.
- Enabling the sharing of events (e.g., meetings, conferences, presentations) between members of the cluster community.
- Providing a project marketplace for the cluster community to search for potential projects of interest as well as project and collaboration partners.
Key requirements included:
- Representation of more than 1,800 cluster organizations in the European Union and abroad in a graphical map and a standard table view, including enhanced filtering and searching.
- Simplicity in administrating the cluster organization through decentralized operating cluster administrators.
- Providing comprehensive communication and social exchange functionalities for each cluster organization as well as for spanning interest groups.
- Benchmarking the cluster organizations' KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) in the dimensions of organizational, financial and activity aspects.
- Support of issue-specific social objects like event calendar, media and document libraries, online chat, and message boards.
- Decentralized and workflow-based administration of content.
The European Cluster Collaboration Platform is a user-driven instrument. The platform was developed from the results of a large survey among European cluster organizations and cluster policy makers. More than 400 cluster players provided detailed input regarding their expectations from an online portal. This information was analyzed and structured. Relevant social objects were identified and incorporated into the detailed requirement specification.
A number of portal frameworks as well as document management systems were evaluated. In the end, Liferay Portal was chosen for the advanced social media support and flexibility of its strong customization capabilities. Within a period of three months the core functionality was implemented using the Scrum process model. Every two weeks the product owner reviewed the implementation results and defined the backlog for the next development iteration.
Liferay's strong, workflow-orientated content management system, in combination with its role and rights concept, has been adapted to support crowd-sourcing for entering and administrating content of interest. These social media approaches by far exceed the capabilities of traditional phone and e-mail communication. The resulting portal was a Cluster Collaboration Platform with portlets for dynamic organization mapping, communication, workflow management, event planning and discussions around social objects such as documents, videos, blogs and events.
"The European Cluster Collaboration Platform based on Liferay empowers the European cluster managers to revolutionize their daily business with a significant increase in effectiveness," said Juan-J. Carmona-Schneider, Senior Consultant, ZENIT GmbH. "Social activities are concentrated in a single platform and benefit from an international reach."
Business Value Added
The Liferay solution streamlined communications for ECCP and its users, enabling inter-cluster communications based on crowd sourced content in a central knowledge base. For the first time, European decision makers can base their strategic cluster development on real community information while using state-of-the-art social media to reach its members, no matter the size and budget of their organizations.