Open Source Software to Addresses Immediate Need
Pay-as-you-go Business Model
Recent applications that have been built on open source have adapted to today’s popular “pay-as-you-go” business model. This model is all the rage and is allowing both SMB and large enterprises to test drive new and innovative applications without committing to a new technology until it is proven within the organization.
“My advice to companies that are interested in leveraging open source technologies is to start small and focus on their immediate pain points”
Open Source Advantages:
• Quality “More eyeballs” – The more people carefully evaluating the code, usually leads to better quality software.
• Lower Cost – Most truly open source applications are also available free of royalties and fees. The purchase cost of software is only one factor; total cost of ownership (TCO) is what really matters.
• Auditability – Source code is available for review and inspection.
• Business Flexibility & Freedom – Real software flexibility is about being able to choose solutions suitable for the needs of the business. If and when requirements in the business change, solutions should not be unreasonably constrained by software.
• Security – Experts truly feel that in general Open Source development produces more secure applications. Some reasons include, “more eyeballs”, auditability, and “Unix”. There are many more high quality developers contributing and testing the code. This helps identify and expose vulnerabilities early in the development cycle. Once an open source project is released then the auditability factor kicks in.
Open Source Disadvantages:
• Project’s Roadmap - Open source software can tend to evolve more in line with developers’ vision than the real needs of the business user. Some projects may viewed as non-intuitive with poor user interface design.
• Limited Support – Some Open source software tends to rely on its community of users to respond to and fix problems.
• Lack of warranty and liability indemnity – Open source projects that are not backed or offered by a commercial organization can expose a business to legal and financial risks.
• Lack of Future Updates – Open source projects that are not backed or offered by a commercial organization offer no guarantees of future updates.
CIO: A Strategic Business Advisor
From my experience the CIO role has evolved to more of a strategic business advisor. Since technology innovation is at the forefront of business, CIOs are now expected to focus more of their time contributing, realizing and supporting the vision of the C-suite and board of directors. CIOs must be much more aligned with their company’s vision than they were a decade ago. Ten years back the CIO would rarely be part of the senior management team. Today most CIOs are key members of the senior management team and most report directly to the CEO. In recent years we have seen many CIOs appointed as board of directors and some are being elevated to CEOs.
Many of the old CIO’s day-to-day responsibilities have evolved and been delegated to a new layer of specialized technologist that focus on very specific areas (infrastructure architect-CTO, security-CISO, data-CDO, Application Development-EVP, Architecture & Engineering).
The business need for digital innovation to create a more customer-centric approach has put the CIO at the center of most corporate decisions. The CIO is one of the fastest changing roles in business, government and academia. CIOs need to quickly come to grips with this new reality.
Optimum Level of Maturity
The one lesson the stands out the most in the 15+ years as a CTO or CIO is to never become complacent. If you are lucky to guide your organization to a level of maturity and automation that rivals anyone in your industry, it is easy to kick back and let the solutions you’ve put in place run the organization. Allowing this to happen can eventually lead to a stagnant business that is vulnerable to innovation and competition.
In my early years as a CTO I focused to ensure that our Ad serving infrastructure and application could scale and be highly available. My team did an incredible job to ensure of this and we built a platform that was capable of serving 10 billion ad impressions per day, featured global DNS load balancing across multiple data centers, and implemented bi-directional database replication. My CEO was very pleased with what my team had implemented. I thought the hard work was over and all we needed to do was sit back and maintain and monitor our infrastructure. I didn’t realize it but I had become complacent. Unfortunately the ad serving industry was going through a fast pace innovation period and our competitors were introducing numerous new features that eventually left our ad serving product out in the cold.
I was lucky enough to learn this lesson early in my career. My subsequent CTO roll allowed me to adapt and align to the business vision. This business alignment allowed me to successfully manage the development and release of numerous technology products throughout my career.
Implement the Right CRM
Beside the user demand and quality of a product or service offering of any business, the next most important factor for success is the customer. With that said, implementing the right Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution can make or break many businesses.
A CRM solution done right can lead to the following benefits that will certainly help you grow your business:
• Improved Customer Relations – A good CRM solution can facilitate customer service, marketing, and selling products and services in an organized and systematic way.
• Increase Customer Revenue – The data collected can be used to drive marketing campaigns in a more effective way. A strong CRM solution can ensure that the product promotions reach a new set of customers and prospects, thus effectively increasing customer revenue. Sell more by improving the selling processes and opening up new avenues based on the comprehensive view and customer intelligence available from CRM analytics.
• Customer Loyalty – The right CRM solution will help improve your customer retention. Handle new customers with white gloves. Exceed their expectations in terms of service and the customer experience. Use data to ticipate customer needs. Strive for “first experience resolution”. Employ a personal touch.
• Increase Efficiency – CRM should tie together various departments with a single data source to address customer inquiries and concerns fast.
Latest Cloud Innovation
The past couple of years have seen an explosion of new startup companies that are basing their key product and or service offering on open source. These companies are in need of some of the latest cloud innovations that are being offered by many hosting providers.
The key to the success of these new Open Source companies lie in their ability to increase efficiency and marketing efforts while containing operating costs. Here are some innovative technologies that many new open source companies need today:
• Containers (Docker)
• R (The R project for statistical computing)
My advice to companies that are interested in leveraging open source technologies is to start small and focus on their immediate pain points. It is very likely that there is an open source software or project out there that addresses your immediate need. Once you identify the software or project, research and learn everything that you can about it. If you don’t have an in-house technologist that is well versed in open source tools, then consider outsourcing the selection and implementation process. Once you get your feet wet with open source, you will ask yourself why you didn’t get started earlier.