5 7-sven abels

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Benefiting from early RTD phases in ICT SMEs
An example from the FP7 Adventure project within Ascora GmbH
Dr. Sven Abels, abels@ascora.de

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5 7-sven abels

  1. 1. Digital Enterprise and Business Innovation Benefiting from early RTD phases in ICT SMEsAn example from the FP7 Adventure project within Ascora GmbH Dr. Sven Abels, abels@ascora.de Ascora GmbH, http://www.ascora.de
  2. 2. Overview• Background – Participation in RTD projects during PhD – Also a lot of activities in a bigger SME – But: • Big change: Started entrepreneur business in 2007 • Different perspective on RTD projects • Especially as things like exploitation, time-to-market, etc. are majorly important in the first years for an SME • Now = 5 years later • First feedback based on our participation in ADVENTURE Ascora GmbH, http://www.ascora.de
  3. 3. Overview• Ascora GmbH: – SME ICT company – Own company building in 2011 – Offices in Lower Saxony (Ganderkesee, Delmenhorst) and Berlin – 20 People in total: 18 Full Time + 2 Freelancers Almost all of them with an IT-Background – What do we do? 1. IT Business Solutions – Data Management and Integration / Interoperabilty – Services / SOA and Cloud based systems – eHealth 2. End User App development (mainly Desktop, but also Mobile, Web) 1.3Mio active and registered customers (~8 Mio users) Distributed under own labels and under third party white-label approaches Reaching from 9.90 € to 39.90 € Ascora GmbH, http://www.ascora.de
  4. 4. Overview• High number of users means: – Large amount of web server requests (avg ~475.000 per day) – Large amount of support tickets / CRM requests – Large amount of license checks – Large amount of messages – Large amount of … well… everything. ;-)• Management of customers and licenses via an old MySQL-Based solution – Managed customer data – Managed licenses – Managed invoices, emailed payment reminders etc. Ascora GmbH, http://www.ascora.de
  5. 5. Overview• Status: – Created for managing ~20 k users – All data interlinked, many different languages, horrible DB design. ;-) – But it workedAfter a while…• The solution started to become inflexible: Many different scripts, etc. accessed it. It was safer to not change the data model• Also: The solution got slower and slower, mainly because of Joins that came with the old Hibernate solution Ascora GmbH, http://www.ascora.de
  6. 6. Overview• What happened: – We went international in 2008  We started using the comment field to note the language of the user – Payments had to be international and we needed credit cards. So we cooperated with a payment service in 2008  We started using the comment field to note payment service reference ID – Customers came in (no idea why that has happened) and growth became a problem. Some people had different accounts and we had to merge them.  We started using the comment field to note the reference between users – …• A good advice: We found out that it gets chaotic when you start using the comment field for more than 5 things at the same time. ;-) Ascora GmbH, http://www.ascora.de
  7. 7. Overview• The normal way would be: – Get a new DB design, based on proven and scalable SQL database – Create a new and holistic system on top of it – Ensure that things like joins are minimized – And ensure that the data access is always encapsulated, e.g. via an ORM• However, we did it differently, because of our participation in ADVENTURE• ADaptive Virtual ENTerprise ManufacTURing Environment Ascora GmbH, http://www.ascora.de
  8. 8. ADVENTURE – The Plug-and-Play Virtual Factory• Virtual Factory – Multiple factories may form a virtual factory – Integrated ICT • Leverage information exchange – Interoperability at a deeper technical level • Definition of data formats for exchanging information • Ensuring that factories can be technically connected• Plug – Factories provide information • Semantically enriched descriptions of offered manufacturing capabilities and products • Exposed as services• Play – Factories model manufacturing process • Semantically enriched descriptions of required manufacturing capabilities and products • Manufacturing processes modeled as composition of services – Identify particular partners who offer a distinct product Ascora GmbH, http://www.ascora.de
  9. 9. Overview• For more info see: http://fp7-adventure.eu• Or download the FP7 ADVENTURE app in the Apple App Store or in Google Play Ascora GmbH, http://www.ascora.de
  10. 10. Overview• Early phases = Meaningless for SMEs? – Too much research – Mainly preparation – No possibility for reuse – Mainly for academic partners – …• Does it ever pay off from a commercial perspective?• Wait a bit… here is what happened to us… Ascora GmbH, http://www.ascora.de
  11. 11. Overview• In the course of the FP7 Adventure project, we have been studying different storage engines• We have been working with the other partners on cloud based data storages based on different technologies including NoSQL solutions.• This insight has allowed us – to compare multiple storage solutions – to experiment with new storage technologies (NoSQL) – to take the time to measure their performance and stability It gave us a much wider view. Ascora GmbH, http://www.ascora.de
  12. 12. OverviewWhat was the result?• We decided to redevelop our customer and licensing solution based on the MongoDB NoSQL solution• Remember: This is our core business component. The most important thing that we have• It was the biggest internal project that our relatively young company has performed so far.• In beginning of September this development has been finished and the new system went online Ascora GmbH, http://www.ascora.de
  13. 13. Overview• Experience so far: – Much more flexible – Better integration with eCommerce payment providers (costs dropped by nearly 50%) – Better conversion rate inside our shop (lift in conversions) – Very easy to extend as there is no fixed database schema – Life view, etc.  Base for many many experiments – New AB-Test each week Ascora GmbH, http://www.ascora.de
  14. 14. Overview• Overall, we have clearly benefited from several activities in the early phases of ADVENTURE:• We have benefited from – The vision and requirements report Because it brought us to think about new storage engines at the first place – The architecture and the functional specification Because it has allowed us to experiment with new technologies and to carefully measure the behavior and performance of them – even though it was for a different context – The cloud storage design Because we have been able to integrate some of it into our solution – Messaging experiments Ascora GmbH, http://www.ascora.de
  15. 15. Overview• Plus: Soft-Benefits – Being “open minded” – Cooperating with different cultures – Different working environment – Good to exchange… …especially when there are different opinions on the table – etc• We benefited much more from the early phases than we would have tought. Especially because we‘re an SME Ascora GmbH, http://www.ascora.de
  16. 16. Questions? Dr. Sven Abels, abels@ascora.deAscora GmbH, http://www.ascora.de

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