The project aims to develop a common internet-based platform for SMEs from the construction sector to provide an effective combination of two general functionalities: (a) Customer Needs Management (CNM) System: an innovative decision making support system regarding the products characteristics, applications and other consultancy services for SMEs' customers applying the "web enabled dialogue", and (b) Knowledge Communities Support (KCS) System: a system for SMEs to support an advanced form of co-operation through the creation of Knowledge Communities of SMEs in CI. The system should support the integration, management and reuse of the area specific knowledge via a common knowledge base. The platform will be owned by associations, and will offer members a means to establish individual CNM systems and benefit from the KCS System. The system will be used within the Associations to collect and exchange the business area specific knowledge among the members (SMEs) in a form of essential expertise, reachable anywhere, at any time. Such a system applying the common knowledge base and KM tool will be a low-cost solution, affordable for SME community. It will satisfy SMEs' urgent need for a radical improvement of communication with customers and will offer an effective knowledge sharing with other SMEs as a base for further implementation of new co-operation forms. The system will be tested in project partner (and other similar) organisations from the CI. For a successful solution it is obviously necessary to establish a multidisciplinary S&T approach combining research activities in different areas, such as KM, particularly creation of the adequate ontology, effective forms of on-line interaction among customers and SME (web enabled dialogue with expert/technical advisor), as well as product classification system for this sector, new forms for a representation of the CI knowledge (e.g. experience-based), investigation of efficient approaches for training etc.
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