ams AG develops and produces sensors for applications that require a high degree of miniaturisation, integration, accuracy, sensitivity and performance. Its products include sensor solutions, sensor ICs, interfaces and associated software for the fields of consumer products, mobile, communication, industry, medicine and automotive. With its 11,000 employees at 22 sites in Europe, Asia and the US, ams is active around the world. Due to strong growth and company acquisitions, however, it had no uniform web presence but was forced to rely on several different platforms. This is why ams was looking for a new platform to support all relevant markets, customer groups and languages and to present the company as the leading supplier of sensors.
Wanted: An integrative, user-friendly solution
The existing ams website was in serious need of maintenance. Many processes, such as updating the webshop’s product range, had to be performed manually. These processes were to be automated, for instance by means of interfaces to the product database and the HR system. The goal was to collate and optimally present the entire product and solution portfolio using a newly structured B2B portal tailored to customer segments and industries. In addition, the new design specifications were to be implemented as comprehensively as possible. With a comprehensive catalogue of requirements, the company set out to find a suitable IT service provider. “In the course of the evaluation, we reviewed different providers. We had already successfully completed a project with DCCS and had good experiences. In the end, the high level of technical competence and expertise in the complex topic of Liferay was decisive. This was another area where DCCS clearly stood out. But the short communication channels and physical proximity were also decisive factors,” says Kai Neumann, Vice President of Marketing at ams AG.
Integrated: SAP, product portal and HR tool
Using the detailed requirements laid out in the specification sheet that already specified the Liferay open-source solution as the basis for the new web portal and presented with a tight time schedule, DCCS and ams entered the first project phase. During several workshops, requirements were discussed, work steps reviewed, and a detailed time schedule created. Specifically, the team looked at topics such as linking the SharePoint system, webshop and product system, but also the HR portal. Another important task was to adapt the layout to allow for the web portal to be used on mobile devices. To this end, DCCS created comprehensive specifications that clearly defined the technical implementation on the basis of the design requirements provided. The new platform was to offer improved usability, increased performance, additional functions and significantly more content than the existing website.
Challenges and success factors
Following the workshops, DCCS began the implementation phase made up of several steps. Implementation advanced at a rapid pace, with the topics of layout and interfaces having been particularly challenging. Since one of the requirements was that the portal be optimally compatible with mobile devices, the originally planned layout had to be adapted and modified accordingly. In the first draft, it became apparent that the design concepts could not be used consistently because, for example, displaying them on mobile devices wouldn't work. DCCS was finally able to master this task thanks to its comprehensive know-how. The next step was to link existing systems such as the webshop, product database and HR system including the career platform. The large number of interfaces and usage cases once again presented a hurdle. In addition, the interface to the webshop was only available towards the end of the project, which created additional time pressure. “Thanks to the close cooperation with DCCS on site, we were able to work out suitable solutions together. The constructive, cooperative partnership was certainly a key factor in the success of the project,” says Neumann.
A uniform, multi-lingual portal
The new ams website provides customers with a uniformly designed, clearly structured overview of the entire portfolio that had previously been scattered across several portals. Thus, all information including product specifications, videos and usage examples are now available at a central hub. Product data is now automatically transferred to the web portal which significantly reduces manual maintenance workload, saves time and reduces the chance of errors. Additionally, media content can be displayed in English and several Asian languages. The search function was also significantly improved and equipped with selection options. “The new web portal is an important first step towards personalisation of our information. We aim to further optimise this in the future to provide customers and sales partners with content that is particularly relevant to them,” Neumann explains. The HR Department also benefits from the new website as it allows it to better process the high demand for workers. Vacant positions are now displayed in the career portal which massively relieves Recruiting. At the same time, the new portal provides ams investors with all relevant information on markets, technologies and applications in a clearly laid out fashion.
Cross-channel experience – project phase two
Following the successful completion of the first phase of the project, the second phase is now on the agenda. The aim is to improve the cross-channel experience for customers. To this end, the previously separate portals, such as the Channel Partner Portal for international sales partners or the Resource Centre (for downloading large content packages, such as software), are to be integrated into the new website. The partners’ respective access rights are to be taken into account as well. During the second phase of the project, the portal is to be made even more personalised and customer-friendly. This is aimed at tailoring the information even better to customers and partners and to provide complete solutions. For example, on the topic of home automation, ams not only offers sensors but also the appropriate software for integrating the components. As a system supplier, the company plans to clearly differentiate itself from the competition in the future.