Why open source companies dont dance?

I have been pondering on this seemingly logical paradox for some time now-

1) Why are open source solutions considered technically better but not customer friendly.

2) Why do startups and app creators in social media or mobile get much more press coverage than

profitable startups in enterprise software.

3) How does tech journalism differ in covering open source projects in enterprise versus retail software.

4) What are the hidden rules of the game of enterprise software.

Some observations-

1) Open source companies often focus much more on technical community management and crowd sourcing code. Traditional software companies focus much more on managing the marketing community of customers and influencers. Accordingly the balance of power is skewed in favor of techies and R and D in open source companies, and in favor of marketing and analyst relations in traditional software companies.

Traditional companies also spend much more on hiring top notch press release/public relationship agencies, while open source companies are both financially and sometimes ideologically opposed to older methods of marketing software. The reverse of this is you are much more likely to see Videos and Tutorials by an open source company than a traditional company. You can compare the websites of ClouderaDataStax, Hadapt ,Appistry and Mapr and contrast that with Teradata or Oracle (which has a much bigger and much more different marketing strategy.

Social media for marketing is also more efficiently utilized by smaller companies (open source) while bigger companies continue to pay influential analysts for expensive white papers that help present the brand.

Lack of budgets is a major factor that limits access to influential marketing for open source companies particularly in enterprise software.

2 and 3) Retail software is priced at 2-100$ and sells by volume. Accordingly technology coverage of these software is based on volume.

Enterprise software is much more expensively priced and has much more discreet volume or sales points. Accordingly the technology coverage of enterprise software is more discreet, in terms of a white paper coming every quarter, a webinar every month and a press release every week. Retail software is covered non stop , but these journalists typically do not charge for “briefings”.

Journalists covering retail software generally earn money by ads or hosting conferences. So they have an interest in covering new stuff or interesting disruptive stuff. Journalists or analysts covering enterprise software generally earn money by white papers, webinars, attending than hosting conferences, writing books. They thus have a much stronger economic incentive to cover existing landscape and technologies than smaller startups.

4) What are the hidden rules of the game of enterprise software.

  • It is mostly a white man’s world. this can be proved by statistical demographic analysis
  • There is incestuous intermingling between influencers, marketers, and PR people. This can be proved by simple social network analysis of who talks to who and how much. A simple time series between sponsorship and analysts coverage also will prove this (I am working on quantifying this ).
  • There are much larger switching costs to enterprise software than retail software. This leads to legacy shoddy software getting much chances than would have been allowed in an efficient marketplace.
  • Enterprise software is a less efficient marketplace than retail software in all definitions of the term “efficient markets”
  • Cloud computing, and SaaS and Open source threatens to disrupt the jobs and careers of a large number of people. In the long term, they will create many more jobs, but in the short term, people used to comfortable living of enterprise software (making,selling,or writing) will actively and passively resist these changes to the  paradigms in the current software status quo.
  • Open source companies dont dance and dont play ball. They prefer to hire 4 more college grads than commission 2 more white papers.

and the following with slight changes from a comment I made on a fellow blog-

  • While the paradigm on how to create new software has evolved from primarily silo-driven R and D departments to a broader collaborative effort, the biggest drawback is software marketing has not evolved.
  • If you want your own version of the open source community editions to be more popular, some standardization is necessary for the corporate decision makers, and we need better marketing paradigms.
  • While code creation is crowdsourced, solution implementation cannot be crowdsourced. Customers want solutions to a problem not code.
  • Just as open source as a production and licensing paradigm threatens to disrupt enterprise software, it will lead to newer ways to marketing software given the hostility of existing status quo.

 

 

Author: Ajay Ohri

http://about.me/ajayohri

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