Good things come to those who wait!

Secure and user-friendly training portal for NATO NSHQ

By combining content and customer data into one intuitive platform we gave NATO's Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ) more insight into their training courses and the people that participate in them.
Guust Nieuwenhuis
Managing Director
NATO Special Operations Headquarters
Brugelette-Chièvres, Belgium
MASA CMS, e-Learning Portal, Amazon Web Services
In Tw FB

The project overview

NSHQ provides focused special operations advice to the NATO. It’s the centrepiece of the NATO SOF Transformation Initiative (NSTI) and coordinates the development of SOF capacity and interoperability for allies and partners. NSHQ offers a series of training courses to its employees and partners throughout all layers of the organization. In order to inform trainees about the courses that are offered, they use a training portal. Through this portal, trainees can also find information and prepare themselves for upcoming courses for which they are registered. Every year, more than 2500 participants use the NSHQ’s training facilities.

About the challenge

Dealing with data that constitutes the training platform is a complicated process: many different types of content are used, the platform’s users are spread out over all layers of the organization, and every user has different rights to access certain information on the platform. NSHQ found it was time to optimize and modernize their training portal and start working towards a Customer Data Platform (CDP). To achieve this, they wanted to bring content and customer data together in one platform. In addition, a number of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) principles needed to be implemented in order to make sure all user information is safeguarded. 

About our approach

In consultation with NSHQ, We Are North decided to optimize the existing content management system by implementing a Customer Data Platform (CDP). A CDP makes it possible to offer content to partners and trainees in a more targeted way and give every user access to the information that is relevant to them. 

We Are North’s team started off by gathering information from system managers and end users, and studied the NSHQ’s infrastructural capacity. In order to understand day to day working life at this organization, they sat down next to end users and observed their way of working. Behavioral patterns were also analyzed and measured. Thanks to this gathering of information and understanding, We Are North was able to assess which strategic and technological adjustments were necessary, possible and desirable.

Based on these observations, possible solutions that would increase usability and make people’s work more fun were identified. Looking at the end users’ experiences and the analysis of behavioral patterns, additional functionalities and possible usability improvements were defined. WAO also initiated a performance improvement plan that included both infrastructural and technical points of attention. All of this was summarized in a project plan based on a fixed price and delivery date.

As for data protection, a new functionality was added: personal data is now encrypted and stored in the database. The administrator can delete personal data, taking into account the retention periods of specific personal information. At the moment, We Are Orange is still involved in the further development of the project. They actively create awareness among stakeholders about future scenarios for the deployment of the Customer Data Platform.

About the results

Thanks to We Are Norths’s efforts, NSHQ’s portal is more in line with the instructor’s daily work life. Work processes have been optimized and data from various sources have been integrated into a central dashboard. Combining content and customer data in a Customer Data Platform gives NSHQ more insight and offers end users a better user experience. Guust Nieuwenhuis, Managing Partner at We Are North: “Thanks to a direct, honest and real approach, we managed to gain the trust of both management and end users. As a result, we were able to take measurable steps in a short time span to prepare the platform for its role as a Customer Data Platform.”

Tools we used

The training portal is powered by MASA, an open source enterprise content experience platform. NSHQ specific functionality has been developed as a series of custom plugins and integrates smoothly with the core MASA CMS functionality.

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