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Adaptive Zones for Interregional Electronic Commerce based on the concepts of Request-Based Virtual Organizations and sector-specific Service Level Agreements

Deliverables

PRODUCTS AND SERVICES The products and services of the Messinian SC as far as the aims described above will be the following: - Provision of Technical Support and training to the LAURA system user-businesses. - Provision of e-Commerce services through LAURA system. - Provision of e-Commerce services and more generally broader Internet services. - Creation and maintenance of database and creation and publication of audiovisual informative material from the database content for distribution and sale to parties interested. - Organization of informative events in relation to the electronic and Internet business activities. ORGANISATION OF THE COMPANY DEPARTMENTS ETAP of Messinia, through its existing departments, will be able to provide and cater for most of the sub-departments of its new endeavour. - Sub-Department of customer reception and sales - Sub-Department of Technical Support - Secretariat - Administration WORKING POSITIONS In the beginning the ETAP of Messinia e-Services department will be covered by one person. This person will be fully knowledgeable of the LAURA processes and will be charged with contacting and informing the potential customers. This person will be supported by a secretary and at a later stage by another person for customer support so that the first person can involve themselves with new customers. The final working structure of the ETAP of Messinia e-Services department will be: Secretary - 1 (secretariat shared with other ETAP departments) Customer Support - 1 Technical Support - 1 PREMISES The ETAP of Messinia e-Services will be based in the base offices of ETAP of Messinia and will be using facilities and equipment of ETAP, which will be appropriately configured and further enhanced in order to facilitate the requirements of the new department. BUILDING PREMISES REQUIRED BUILDING PREMISES For the activities of the ETAP of Messinia e-Services, the requirements for area and building premises are 20 m2 air conditioned office room which will facilitate a complete office and appropriate space for the installation of a PC. SPECIFIC SPECIFICATIONS/REQUIREMENTS ADSL internet connection is installed as well as all necessary equipment (printer, UPS, scanner, networking, etc.) ETAP of Messinia has at its disposal and will make available meeting spaces so as to provide proper facilities for private meeting with customer company representatives. SPECIAL EQUIPMENT A server, hosting the SC system is already operational, in conjunction with other services provided by ETAP and the Messinian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It has the following characteristics: CPU - Intel P4, 3.0GHz RAM - DDR 256MB HDD - 2x40MB hot-swap RAID Peripherals - CD-RW 10/100 LAN Back-up System UPS OS - Linux Web Server - Apache DBMS - MySQL
The LAURA Prototype implements the chosen architecture and instantiates the framework in practice. It also builds on modern Peer-to-Peer communication paradigm. Traditionally, modern e-business applications were being built (both technically and conceptually) with a client-server interaction paradigm in mind. There are different flavours of client-server interactions in e-business ranging from fully centralized hub-and-spoke solutions to point-to-point links between the peers. In most cases, the structure of a traditional VO is assumed to be relatively static and the explicit presence of different intermediaries or static knowledge of participants is taken for granted. However, the true anatomy of interaction within virtual communities, especially highly dynamic ones such as RBVO, is peer-to-peer by its nature. The participants do not seek 'a server', a 'centre' or a 'hub'; they seek partnerships irrespectively of the underlying infrastructure, partner location, etc. In other words, the actual value-added interactions occur between collaborating peers, whereas the supporting infrastructure carries greater or lesser overhead, reflecting the way it happens in off-line business practices. This phenomenon, also known as peer-to-peer communication, has been successfully exploited for consumer-oriented purposes, and can be also applied to B2B virtual communities as the necessary technical provisioning becomes widely available. This idea is not entirely new, a P2P network resembles a small business community (virtual community), this sort of web of shifting and temporary interconnections is exactly what decentralised P2P systems are good at. In the LAURA network context there are two types of peers: - Domain Hubs, acting on behalf of SMEs, which are not capable of using LAURA business collaboration service themselves - Advanced SMEs, using the LAURA collaboration service connected to their back-office and/or ERP systems Project JXTA provides a framework that would allow developers to concentrate on providing high level, business-oriented functionality, rather than implementing the underlying infrastructure. Project JXTA also has an advantage of being open-source, and supported by an active community. Sun introduced JXTA technology in 2001 with an open-source, royalty-free license model and more than 80 known JXTA-based projects are currently in development. The JXTA technology is particularly applicable from the RBVO point of view and especially with regard to the multi-domain nature of our solution. The JXTA Virtual Network, which allows flexible mapping between the physical resources and the logical entities, required for a multi-domain e-business network such as LAURA.The slogan "JXTA Technology: Creating Connected Communities" captures the essence of JXTA technology, and also particularly matches the essence of the RBVO concept. Existing peer-to-peer protocols are characterised by unreliable messaging especially in the context of the Internet, where the overwhelming majority of communication channels are unreliable. Messages disappear, connections break, servers crash and viruses attack. In short, the main issues to be addressed by reliable business messaging are: Asynchronous messaging at the application level Three reliability features: - guaranteed delivery - duplicate elimination - and message ordering The other principal decisions we made are the following: - WWW interface and HTTP(S) protocol is used for SME end-user access to the LAURA network. - Open Source e-business component framework from The Open For Business Project - OFBiz is used for the basic functionality such as catalogue management, user registration, business transaction monitoring, reporting, etc. - Discovery of the remote domains by a domain hub is encapsulated into a generic interface, which allows different discovery techniques. For example, one of them is based on emerging Peer-to-Peer (P2P) technology and its Java implementation in particular - JXTA. Domain hubs use JXTA to exchange their meta-data and build lists of remote domains for subsequent product search within the selected domains. - Domain hubs perform search of products and partners on behalf of SMEs by propagating the queries to the selected remote domains. Secure and reliable messaging is needed in this case to ensure the required degree of accuracy and, inherently, trust in the system. The transport option chosen for this task and subsequent business conversations is ebXML messaging. In order to be able to use other business messaging options a generic interface is also used here. - Business processes specify the choreography of business transactions in collaborations between the partners and these are modelled and specified using ebXML BPSS. - Business documents are modelled according to the Open Applications Group Integration Specification - OAGIS
The Regional Analysis Results are the outcomes of Tasks 1.1 and 1.2 defined in the technical annex of the project. In order to fulfill the activities under Task 1.1 "Definition of the regional actors needs and requirements" ARC Fund undertook the following actions: - Exploitation of existing knowledge ARC Fund scanned for existing surveys and reports the Ministry for Regional Development and Public Works, the Ministry of Economy, the Agency for SMEs, the Agency for Economic Analysis and Forecasting, the Center for Economic Development and many other Bulgarian organisations. The outcomes were summarised in a 25 pages report. - Direct survey ARC Fund selected 444 companies from the region in the predefined 4 LAURA sectors. These 444 companies were selected from the IRC-Bulgaria database, the databases of the Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA), the Bulgarian Tourist Chamber (BTC), the Bulgarian Association of Tourist Agencies (BATA), the Bulgarian Association of Food and Drink Industry (BAFDI), the Bulgarian Branch Chamber of Woodworking and Furniture Industries (BBCWFI), the Bulgarian Building and Construction Chamber (BBCC) and BIC Capital Market Ltd. This selection represents all possible active companies from the sectors in the region according to these databases. The elaborated questionnaire was distributed by post and e-mail to 344 companies from the agriculture, food-processing, timber, wood-processing, furniture and tourism sectors. The electronic version of the questionnaire was also uploaded on the ISPO website (Information Society Promotion Office) - www.ispo.bg/laura-online.doc. The breakdown of the companies is: 98 Agriculture companies, 101 Food-processing companies, 57 Timber and Wood-processing companies, 41 Furniture companies, and 47 Tourist companies. Experts and interviewers from the research company (Vitosha Research) were used to perform the face-to-face survey with 100 companies from the construction sector. The questionnaire was disseminated also to all participants in the 4 sectorial group meetings held in the selected LAURA sectors. The needs and requirements of regional actors were analysed in broader terms to cover not only the technical issues of industrial innovation but also economic and organisational aspects like management, marketing, innovation financing, etc. A standardised questionnaire was elaborated for the purpose and was used for all participating regions, which allowed for collecting detailed and precise information on actors' needs, as well as for easy interpretation. The study provided information for assessing the regional business environment with regard to interregional e-commerce development based on the concept of adaptive zones and with respect to the employment of the enabling technologies for developing RBVOs and SLAs for carrying out business operations and transactions. The work under this task ended up with identifying regional priorities and elaboration of recommendations for measures for regional actions. The training needs of the organisations were also addressed. The activities of ARC Fund under Task 1.2 "Analysis of technology- and market-related trends" were mainly focused upon detailed study of the sectors in the region and on gathering information on the technology- and marked-related trends by organising Sectorial Group Meetings. ARC Fund prepared detailed reports on the 7 sectors (Agriculture, Food-processing, Timber and Wood-processing, Furniture production, Tourism, Construction Materials and Construction) for the 6 South-Central Regions (Plovdiv, Stara Zagora, Pazardjik, Smoljan, Haskovo and Kurdjali). These reports refer mainly to: - Size and structure of the sectors in the region; - Main companies in the sector and their characteristics; - Major markets and factors favouring or hampering market performance of the companies in the sector. Analysis based on opinions of experts from branch chambers and associations was prepared on the Priorities of the innovation strategy of the firms in each sector and the Collaboration between the sector and the research community. ARC Fund produced also a detailed analysis of the sectors in the South-Central Region of Bulgaria, which was separately reported as an Annex to the Deliverable 2.1. The outcomes of the abovementioned activities were summarised together with the outcomes of the studies of the other partners held in their regions in Deliverables 1.1 and 1.2.
As the main outcome of the activities under the tasks in the project LAURA, Trend established a LAURA Support Centre in the Western Pomerania region of Germany. The products and services of the Epirus SC as far as the aims described above will be the following: - Provision of Technical Support and training to the LAURA system user-businesses. - Provision of e-Commerce services through LAURA system. - Provision of e-Commerce services and more generally broader Internet services. - Creation and maintenance of database and creation and publication of audiovisual informative material from the database content for distribution and sale to parties interested. - Organization of informative events in relation to the electronic and Internet business activities. - Related Publications. Customer support procedures: - Setting up the contacts with potential customers - Individual appointments with the potential customers to explain the role of SC in greater detail - Marketing campaigns - Support or customers at SC premises SC Organisation: There will be four departments in the SC initially: - Department of Sales and Customer Support - Department of Technical Support - Secretariat - Administration Working positions: - The SC will be operated by one person in the first phase - Subsequantly this person will be supported by a secretary and an associate for customer support - Fully established SC will include: -- CEO - 1 -- Secretary - 1 -- Customer support - 2 -- Technical support - 1 -- Part time accountant - 1 Targeted market sectors: Initially the targeted industrial sectors are: - agriculture - food-processing; - construction materials - construction. These sectors are an outcome from the initially made survey. The targeted customers have to be export/import-oriented. The other industrial sectors will also be addressed, as the opportunities emerge. The establishment of a LAURA Support Centre is a very important and innovative activity for the region as they contribute to the regional economy and support the improvement of the local SMEs competitiveness and business efficiency through the introduction of state-of-the-art electronic commerce.
As the main outcome of the activities under the tasks in the project LAURA, GTZH established a LAURA Support Centre in the Saxony-Anhalt region of Germany. The products and services of the Epirus SC as far as the aims described above will be the following: - Provision of Technical Support and training to the LAURA system user-businesses. - Provision of e-Commerce services through LAURA system. - Provision of e-Commerce services and more generally broader internet services. - Creation and maintenance of database and creation and publication of audiovisual informative material from the database content for distribution and sale to parties interested. - Organization of informative events in relation to the electronic and internet business activities. - Related Publications. Customer support procedures: - Setting up the contacts with potential customers - Individual appointments with the potential customers to explain the role of SC in greater detail - Marketing campaigns - Support or customers at SC premises SC Organisation: There will be four departments in the SC initially: - Department of Sales and Customer Support - Department of Technical Support - Secretariat - Administration Working positions: - The SC will be operated by one person in the first phase - Subsequantly this person will be supported by a secretary and an associate for customer support - Fully established SC will include: -- CEO - 1 -- Secretary - 1 -- Customer support - 2 -- Technical support - 1 -- Part time accountant - 1 Targeted market sectors: Initially the targeted industrial sectors are: - agriculture - food-processing; - construction materials - construction. These sectors are an outcome from the initially made survey. The targeted customers have to be export/import-oriented. The other industrial sectors will also be addressed, as the opportunities emerge. The establishment of a LAURA Support Centre is a very important and innovative activity for the region as they contribute to the regional economy and support the improvement of the local SMEs competitiveness and business efficiency through the introduction of state-of-the-art electronic commerce.
The architecture of the LAURA solution must cope with the specific business issues while also satisfying a set of requirements, dictated by the RBVO model itself, the application domain and the basic software engineering principles. One of the possible ways to model an RBVO is to consider it as composed of a collection of interacting services; this approach fits the "request on demand" concept, which is pivotal to the RBVO. Each service provides access to a well-defined collection of functionality. The system as a whole is designed and implemented as a set of interactions among these services. Exposing functionality as services is the key to flexibility. This allows other pieces of functionality (perhaps themselves implemented as services) to make use of other services in a natural way regardless of their physical location. A system evolves through the addition of new services. The resulting service-oriented architecture (SOA) defines the services of which the system is composed, describes the interactions that occur among the services to realize certain behaviour, and maps the services into one or more implementations in specific technologies. This service-oriented architecture (SOA) approach is the latest in a long series of attempts in software engineering that try to foster the reuse of software components. However, the notion of Services, together with the necessary provision of discovery, binding, invocation modes, etc. make answer only a part of the questions. The discussed application domain is primarily associated with the business processes occurring between the business partners; therefore the solution architecture must explicitly reflect this aspect and take a business process management approach to integration. Emerging e-business models are becoming more ambitious and the ability to support a rapidly changing business environment is obligatory. Companies want to automate and manage complete business processes, not just specific steps of a business process, therefore the services need to be business-oriented. The tools and techniques of the modelling layer aim to graphically represent interaction flows among participants in a process and to abstract the models from the underlying technologies. The resulting business process models can be used later by the integration engines, transformed into the appropriate specific formats and enacted at business run-time. In addition, the architecture must support the emerging notion of e-business frameworks, which specify the coordinated the use of low-level standards and technologies. The aspect of standardisation at every level is very important here, as the architecture must facilitate integration software interoperability, platform independence and portability in order to ensure the widest possible adoption. The two main alternatives for the Internet-ready e-business based on widely adopted standards today are: - Electronic Business XML (ebXML) integration framework sponsored by OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) and UN/CEFACT (United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business) and supported by other influential standards bodies including NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) and W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) as well as the major industry players. - Advanced Web Services Architectures. Building on the success of Web Services for Internet-based platform-neutral application integration, the major industry players (IBM, Microsoft, BEA and others) attempt to make Web services more secure, more reliable, and better able to support transactions while retaining the essential simplicity and interoperability found in Web services today. The two approaches are different in certain aspects. The ebXML framework, for example, is engineered using top-down business process and a collaboration centric approach, while Web Services grow from the low-level integration techniques into the business process area as required. The two frameworks also overlap in certain areas in terms of functionality and efforts are made to reuse as much effort as possible to minimize the overlap. There are also some core technical elements shared by both frameworks (such as XML, SOAP, etc.), which increase the degree of interoperability. While not mutually exclusive, these two approaches are substantially different to the extent that it requires making a choice quite early on when defining the solution architecture. In our project and research work we have chosen the ebXML framework as the primary architectural basis because of its completeness of vision and business collaboration orientation on one hand and the opportunity to start from scratch with our architecture on the other hand.
The Laura project is an innovative approach to e-commerce in less favoured regions (LFRs) of Europe. Laura represents a software founded organisational approach to build and run Virtual Organisations (VOs) based on a closed shop pool of regional and branch specific organisations following the extended enterprise paradigm. The project is addressed to Small to Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) operating in Less Favoured Regions (LFRs) of Europe and which most of the times are in a disadvantageous position in relation to their competitors based on urban places. The implementation of modern IT technology that facilitates the development of e-commerce activities is of critical importance for both the prosperity of these SMEs and consequently for the economic development of the European Union. The potential partners, under specific conditions, will form a new integrated VO with a limited life span. Since the appearance of these organisations will occur on demand, they are named Request Based Virtual Organisations (RBVOs). The specific difference with common VOs is that they do not operate on a constant basis but instead they are flexible organisation forms that respond very well and very quickly to emerging business opportunities. At this point it is essential to note that the Laura infrastructure aims at business to business collaboration which might concern e-procurement of finished goods from one SME to another or the formation of partnerships for the development of final products and/or services from sub components. Laura Operation could be divided and analysed in three distinct layers, each one representing a different extent of distance collaboration. Starting from the bottom layer of intra regional e-commerce, there is a transition to interregional e-commerce followed by international e-commerce. In the intra-regional e-commerce layer, the SMEs, the regional support centres and the business organisations are identified as the three key actors, which are analysed extensively in the next section. It is important to mention that in order to ensure the smooth operation and efficient coordination of an agreement between two or more SMEs located in different regions or countries (international and interregional e-commerce zones) both participating SMEs and their corresponding support centres cooperate and coordinate. It is also important to mention that the structure proposed (ebXML architecture) virtually makes no distinction over the physical distance among SMEs during an RBVO and SLA formation.
ECommerce zones are not singular networks with individual offerings, but a more standardized solution of the structure of offering and demand. For making this work there has to be a more uniform group of potential offering companies (customers) within one region that is that advanced to be able to power this intention of an entire group. Interregional eCommerce zones are the intensification of the wish of more than one functioning network of offering companies plus their support centre to cooperate within the idea of bi-directional supply chains. Nine different packages were worked out, that contend different services that LAURA can be used for. The products holding up the entire program are: - Content Manager: the Content Manager is the tool to generate individual homepages and web bases by each user that will be linked to the LAURA platform. Note the surface of this software can be used without knowing HTML. - Virtual Shop: Every product that is to be sold over the Internet can be pictured graphically easily by any user of this tool. Further on the shop is structured as a catalogue to make it easy to find products, branch, price etc. Products being sold over the Virtual Shop are good to handle - talking about the act of selling. The shop can be bought in more than one language. - Variant Generator: The process of buying is made easy by using the variant generator. The individual request toward the product can be typed in a specific structure that provides aspects of the product that help guarding the potential customer to the specific product he intents to buy (as long as the product can be found at one of the LAURA partners at all). - Individual Task Manager: The contract between customer and salesman is made economic by this tool. Every instruction for making a contract is characterized step by step to finally being send to the customer in his language. The partners do not have sing the contract by ink but by typing in the name only, which turns the time taking act into a quick and comfortable on. - Value Edition Service: Designed for the efficiency incensement, this tool provides an electronic news lettering, instructions etc. - Virtual Contact Manager: Every company works with customer-specific data such as addresses, telephone numbers and the last bought articles. The simple act of typing in, connect and pull out the data in time is a very time and personal intensive. The Virtual Contact Manager is a tool to easily handle the just specified activities almost automatically (time reduction of 50% at least). - Marketing Briefing Template: By defining the target group, language, point of interest and the project, by using the Marketing Briefing Template, the offerer can configure the optimal way to perform on the market plus configuring the approximate cost to do so. - eVolution Scanner: A tool to generate a highly adaptive online questionnaire to define the requested service by asking the target group specific online questions. - Virtual Office: Online database to be filled with information that would be stored on the company computers. This data can be reached from any computer in the world without installing any other software. Other services contributed by the Virtual Office are shared calendar functions, user groups, forums, etc. and the ability to terminate and overlook the different ongoing projects by each company individually.
As the main outcome of the activities under the tasks in the project LAURA, HAYE established a LAURA Support Centre in the Epirus region of Greece. The products and services of the Epirus SC as far as the aims described above will be the following: - Provision of Technical Support and training to the LAURA system user-businesses. - Provision of e-Commerce services through LAURA system. - Provision of e-Commerce services and more generally broader Internet services. - Creation and maintenance of database and creation and publication of audiovisual informative material from the database content for distribution and sale to parties interested. - Organization of informative events in relation to the electronic and Internet business activities. - Related Publications. Epirus SC will essentially be the main centre of its kind in the regional market and will carry out its business in an environment that will face for the first time a vertical operating organisation, which addresses e-business processes for the SMEs in the region. Customer support procedures: - Setting up the contacts with potential customers - Individual appointments with the potential customers to explain the role of SC in greater detail - Marketing campaigns - Support or customers at SC premises SC Organisation: There will be four departments in Epirus SC initially: - Department of Sales and Customer Support - Department of Technical Support - Secretariat - Administration Working positions: - Epirus SC will be operated by one person in the first phase - Subsequently this person will be supported by a secretary and an associate for customer support - Fully established SC will include: -- CEO - 1 -- Secretary - 1 -- Customer support - 2 -- Technical support - 1 -- Part time accountant - 1 Targeted market sectors: Initially the targeted industrial sectors are: - agriculture - food-processing; - construction materials - construction. These sectors are an outcome from the initially made survey. The targeted customers have to be export/import-oriented. The other industrial sectors will also be addressed, as the opportunities emerge. The establishment of a LAURA Support Centre is a very important and innovative activity for the Epirus region as they contribute to the regional economy and support the improvement of the local SMEs competitiveness and business efficiency through the introduction of state-of-the-art electronic commerce.
As a main outcome of the activities under the tasks in the project LAURA, ARC Fund established a LAURA Support Centre in the South-Central Region of Bulgaria (Plovdiv Region). This Bulgarian region is one of the six "regions for planning" according to the Law on Regional Development. The South Central region, covers 27,553 km² and has 2 million inhabitants. Plovdiv, Pazardjik, Haskovo, Stara Zagora, Kurdjali, and Smolyan are the 6 districts within the region. In order to set up the LAURA Support Centre, ARC Fund established close relationships with the Regional Development Agency with Business Support Centre for SMEs, which is located on the fairground in the city of Plovdiv - the main city in South-Central Region of Bulgaria. The host organisation provided the necessary premises for the LAURA Support Centre activities, together with the required infrastructure and equipment. The host organisation is also able to provide the Support Centre with meeting space and when needed larger rooms where training activities will take place. After a short negotiation phase, both organisations reached an agreement and from the beginning of June 2004 the Support Centre is fully operational in the abovementioned organisation. A server with the developed by the consortium partner "Unisoft Bulgaria" SA LAURA software was installed in the ARC Fund's premises. The server is accessible online on the following internet addresses: - User view - laura.online.bg - Support Centre view - laura.online.bg:8088/sc A specific person in the Regional Development Agency with Business Support Centre for SMEs was assigned to operate the Support Centre. ARC Fund provided him with 2 days training on the LAURA system. At the end of the project (month 24) there are 16 companies registered and using the platform provided by the Support Centre. The Regional Development Agency with Business Support Centre for SMEs provides them with the required support. Activities, Products and Services provided by the LAURA Support Centre. The LAURA Support Centre in the South-Central Region of Bulgaria operates as a node of the LAURA Support Centres infrastructure and provides its clients with value added services and products on an intraregional and interregional level. The services and products are: - The main product that the Support center offers to its clients (SMEs from this Less Favourite Region), is the possibility to use the B2B LAURA system, which helps to open up the European (and world) markets to them. They are currently too weak and do not have the relevant technological equipment and abilities to make it without the help provided by the LAURA system; - The Support Centre offers training to the regional SMEs on the developed state of the art B2B technology; - It provides the required Technical Support to the LAURA system clients; - The Support Centre promotes the LAURA system, its activities and the EU IST policy through different means (organisation of promotional events, publications in newspapers and magazines, etc.); - The Support Centre is the natural focal point for information and advice regarding B2B e-commerce; - It supports dispute arbitration and supervises trading activities; - It cooperates closely with the other Support Centres thus providing its customers with smooth operation of the system. At this stage, there is one more LAURA Support Centre in Bulgaria for the South-West Region. It was established in the Center for Innovation and Technology Transfer-GLOBAL Ltd. CITT-GLOBAL is a Bulgarian company set up with the aim of facilitating transfer of innovative knowledge and technologies on international level. Official cooperation agreement between CITT-GLOBAL and the consortium partner Unisoft Bulgaria SA was signed on 23/07/2004. Currently CITT-GLOBAL is working on the actions needed to set up the Support Centre - server installation, initial companies acquirement, dissemination activities etc. If there is a demand from companies from the other uncovered 4 regions in Bulgaria, the 2 Support Centres will serve them until a Support Centre in their region is established. Initially the targeted industrial sectors by the LAURA Support Centres in Bulgaria are: - agriculture - food-processing; - timber - wood-processing - furniture production; - construction materials - construction. These sectors are an outcome from the initially made survey. The targeted customers have to be export/import-oriented. The other industrial sectors are also addressed and specifically -Textiles and Machine building. The establishment of a LAURA Support Centre is a very important and innovative activity for the South-Central and South-West Regions of Bulgaria as they contribute to the regional economy and support the improvement of the local SMEs competitiveness and business efficiency through the introduction of state-of-the-art electronic commerce.
As part of the overall evaluation strategy of WP4, the purpose of this report is to examine the UMM methodology, as evidenced in the "LAURA" project, and point out its strengths and weaknesses. Validation of the intraregional and interregional electronic commerce zones is done by means of suggested indicators, however, this report is useful as a background in evaluating the overall methodology used in actually designing and developing these eCommerce zones. In the modern digital era, as the degree of uptake of eCommerce from the involved actors (general public, private companies, public organizations, etc) continues to expand, there is an increasing number of eCommerce systems appearing in the market. Those may include Consumer-to-Consumer, Business-to-Consumer, Business-to-Business, Business-to-Government systems, etc. Those systems have to be developed by following proved and accepted modelling methodologies that have appeared in the field of Information Systems, and more specifically eCommerce systems. One such methodology for the specification of eCommerce systems that has appeared during the last couple of years is UN/CEFACT's Modelling Methodology (UMM). According to the UMM Specification, "...a primary vision of UN/CEFACT is to capture the business knowledge that enables the development of low cost software components by software vendors to help the small and medium size companies, and emerging economies engage in e-Business practices. By focusing on developing business process and information models in a protocol neutral manner, UMM provides insurance against obsolescence by allowing recasting of the Open-edi scenarios into new technologies such as eXtensible Markup Language (XML), or other technologies that may emerge ten to fifteen years from now. Hence UMM "future-proofs" Open-edi scenarios against obsolescence by new protocol standards and technologies..." In modelling the LAURA system, a full-blown definition of the system using UMM was performed. This allowed for the presentation of the system at a high level to interested parties, as well as use of the modelling artefacts at lower levels by the developers for developing the e-commerce system.