Software AG helps organizations achieve their business objectives faster. The company's big data, integration and business process technologies enable customers to drive operational efficiency, modernize their systems and optimize processes for smarter decisions and better service. Building on over 40 years of customer-centric innovation, the company is ranked as a leader in 15 market categories, fueled by core product families Adabas and Natural, ARIS, Terracotta and webMethods. Software AG has ca. 5,300 employees in 70 countries and had revenues of €1.05 billion in 2012.
TECHcommunity is Software AG's new, dynamic one-stop portal that connects the user community with the company's developer assets and channels related to its leading products: Adabas-Natural, ARIS, Terracotta and webMethods. Customers depend heavily on TECHcommunity for the latest product updates, demos and trial downloads, collaborative tools and an ever-growing knowledge base.
In recent years beginning in 2005, Software AG has reported record results and made substantial acquisitions. These developments resulted in enormous growth in all areas of the enterprise. Moreover, the correlating expansion of the company's portfolio and its customer base greatly impacted the needs of Software AG's developer community. The fast-growing employee and TECHcommunity grew a member base of 3.000 in 2005 to currently over 35.000 members. In addition, it was particularly influenced by a younger generation joining the workforce. This generation, which grew up with the Internet and fast-paced technology growth, expected familiar features within the workplace such as personalized content, individual profiles, and social media integration.
With a lean team and equally lean budget, the company had to find a solution to cope with this explosive growth. In 2011, Software AG began searching for a low-cost, high-value solution to improve user experience, provide better social collaboration capabilities amongst community users, and improve personalization. As the community grew over time, new functionalities had been introduced on an isolated, component-by-component level. The situation called for a long-term solution that would integrate disparate information sources and, at the same time, provide a modern look and feel. Additional requirements included customization and networking functionalities.
Software AG has standardized on open source as part of their technology strategy since 2007, benefiting from the resulting low cost and high flexibility. The team researched several open source technologies and in a side-by-side comparison, Liferay met best the 50 core requirements compared to the alternatives. The final deciding factors in favor of Liferay Portal included:
- A strong user community, reflecting the product's maturity and the longevity of the technology.
- A flexible solution with excellent integration capabilities.
- A technology based on open standards.
In 2012 Software AG re-launched the developer community as the brand new ‘TECHcommunity', with Liferay at the front end. It offers a new look and feel, and new functionalities that meet the needs of the next generation of developers. With Liferay, the community portal now offers user registration and profile updates, collaboration tools such as wikis and blogs, social networking capabilities between community members, and a customizable interface that allows Software AG to quickly personalize its campaigns and key assets.
Rather than replacing the existing system entirely, Liferay seamlessly integrated the new functionalities into all major components of the solution. This saved time on development and was also less intrusive than overwriting pre-existing functionalities—an important reassurance for existing community members who were fluent with the previous system. A large set of out-of-the-box tools allowed for the quick development of custom portlets. TECHcommunity was built using a single technical resource in less than six months.
Business Value Added
TECHcommunity began reaping the benefits of the redesign immediately. In its first year of implementation the number of users saw a record 25% growth. The community has greatly benefitted from improved collaboration and problem-solving capabilities and the site now supports over 35,000 registered members.
Software AG has also seen an increase in views and contribution to its TECHniques Magazine. Previously only in print, the magazine content is now available on the TECHcommunity blog and has up to 10,000 readers, providing a measurable communication channel for Software AG. Customer satisfaction and loyalty have gone up, and Liferay has greatly improved the community's usability for both old and new community members. There is an improved perception and interest in TECHcommunity as it has seen a measurable increase in member contribution and engagement.
"Community managers are empowered by Liferay's usability and rich feature set. Small projects at Software AG no longer need to spend rare technical resources," said Gerd Schneider, Vice President, Global Communities at Software AG. "A social media portlet, for example, does not have to be developed from scratch, but can simply be integrated out-of-the-box into the community site. Liferay's staging capability also means features can be tested and mock-ups drawn up quickly when needed."