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.

 

 

Who writes white papers?

A social network diagram
Image via Wikipedia

There are four main types of commercial white papers:

  • Business benefits: Makes a business case for a certain technology or methodology.
  • Technical: Describes how a certain technology works.
  • Hybrid: Combines business benefits with technical details in a single document.
  • Policy: Makes a case for a certain political solution to a societal or economic challenge.
Name the best white paper you ever read? (comment that in the field)..
What categoy of white papers is the best?
Do you think white papers are too expensive or they give adequate ROI?
To be continued- including

  1. demographic and social network analysis of analysts and white paper sponsors to measure interaction effects.
  2. white papers segmented by type of software company
  3. proc freq analysis of the words frequency data viz in white papers written by same analysts for different companies on same topics.
  4. Race and ethnic analysis of influencers and analysts in Business Analysts and Business Intelligence. – Null hypothesis – it is not a white mans world, women, Hispanics and other minorities are adequately represented.
Why I am doing this?
I am writing a white paper on WHO writes a white paper? 
Sponsorships are invited- but academics and startups in analytics may be preferred.

What is a White Paper?

Christine and Jimmy Wales
Image via Wikipedia

As per Jimmy Wales and his merry band at Wiki (pedia not leaky-ah)- The emphasis is mine

What is the best white paper you have read in the past 15 years.

Categories are-

  • Business benefits: Makes a business case for a certain technology or methodology.
  • Technical: Describes how a certain technology works.
  • Hybrid: Combines business benefits with technical details in a single document.
  • Policy: Makes a case for a certain political solution to a societal or economic challenge.
——————————————————————————————————————————————————



white paper is an authoritative report or guide that helps solve a problem. White papers are used to educate readers and help people make decisions, and are often requested and used in politics, policy, business, and technical fields. In commercial use, the term has also come to refer to documents used by businesses as a marketing or sales tool. Policy makers frequently request white papers from universities or academic personnel to inform policy developments with expert opinions or relevant research.

Government white papers

In the Commonwealth of Nations, “white paper” is an informal name for a parliamentary paper enunciating government policy; in the United Kingdom these are mostly issued as “Command papers“. White papers are issued by the government and lay out policy, or proposed action, on a topic of current concern. Although a white paper may on occasion be a consultation as to the details of new legislation, it does signify a clear intention on the part of a government to pass new law. White Papers are a “…. tool of participatory democracy … not [an] unalterable policy commitment.[1] “White Papers have tried to perform the dual role of presenting firm government policies while at the same time inviting opinions upon them.” [2]

In Canada, a white paper “is considered to be a policy document, approved by Cabinet, tabled in the House of Commons and made available to the general public.”[3] A Canadian author notes that the “provision of policy information through the use of white and green papers can help to create an awareness of policy issues among parliamentarians and the public and to encourage an exchange of information and analysis. They can also serve as educational techniques”.[4]

“White Papers are used as a means of presenting government policy preferences prior to the introduction of legislation”; as such, the “publication of a White Paper serves to test the climate of public opinion regarding a controversial policy issue and enables the government to gauge its probable impact”.[5]

By contrast, green papers, which are issued much more frequently, are more open ended. These green papers, also known as consultation documents, may merely propose a strategy to be implemented in the details of other legislation or they may set out proposals on which the government wishes to obtain public views and opinion.

White papers published by the European Commission are documents containing proposals for European Union action in a specific area. They sometimes follow a green paper released to launch a public consultation process.

For examples see the following:

 Commercial white papers

Since the early 1990s, the term white paper has also come to refer to documents used by businesses and so-called think tanks as marketing or sales tools. White papers of this sort argue that the benefits of a particular technologyproduct or policy are superior for solving a specific problem.

These types of white papers are almost always marketing communications documents designed to promote a specific company’s or group’s solutions or products. As a marketing tool, these papers will highlight information favorable to the company authorizing or sponsoring the paper. Such white papers are often used to generate sales leads, establish thought leadership, make a business case, or to educate customers or voters.

There are four main types of commercial white papers:

  • Business benefits: Makes a business case for a certain technology or methodology.
  • Technical: Describes how a certain technology works.
  • Hybrid: Combines business benefits with technical details in a single document.
  • Policy: Makes a case for a certain political solution to a societal or economic challenge.

Resources

  • Stelzner, Michael (2007). Writing White Papers: How to capture readers and keep them engaged. Poway, California: WhitePaperSource Publishing. pp. 214. ISBN 9780977716937.
  • Bly, Robert W. (2006). The White Paper Marketing Handbook. Florence, Kentucky: South-Western Educational Publishing. pp. 256. ISBN 9780324300826.
  • Kantor, Jonathan (2009). Crafting White Paper 2.0: Designing Information for Today’s Time and Attention Challenged Business Reader. Denver,Colorado: Lulu Publishing. pp. 167.ISBN 9780557163243.

A Poem on Demand

On Demand entertainment I need to hear
On Demand information of webcasts, white papers dear
On demand downloads of information I am told I really need
Sometimes it is tough to keep which is shallow what is deep

Is it really on demand or were you overwhelmed and manipulated by the supply
On Demand Supply and estimates of forecasts of influencer of the demand
Friendship is also on demand

But Loneliness is Free and Open Source
And so is Freedom

How many Fans, Followers, Likes can you get
Before your critical mass makes you Viral
Like a Video Bieber whose clothes are torn by crowds

Searching for your 900 seconds of On Demand fame
You want to be paid on demand but work only on a creative fancy
Your on demand laziness is too demanding now
Ceteras Paribus, On demand is too much to demand
and much too on always on 24 7

Give me a book a friend and some peace and quiet
Bet you things arent there on supply but always on demand
Or are they?

Business Analytics Analyst Relations /Ethics/White Papers

Curt Monash, whom I respect and have tried to interview (unsuccessfully) points out suitable ethical dilemmas and gray areas in Analyst Relations in Business Intelligence here at http://www.dbms2.com/2010/07/30/advice-for-some-non-clients/

If you dont know what Analyst Relations are, well it’s like credit rating agencies for BI software. Read Curt and his landscaping of the field here ( I am quoting a summary) at http://www.strategicmessaging.com/the-ethics-of-white-papers/2010/08/01/

Vendors typically pay for

  1. They want to connect with sales prospects.
  2. They want general endorsement from the analyst.
  3. They specifically want endorsement from the analyst for their marketing claims.
  4. They want the analyst to do a better job of explaining something than they think they could do themselves.
  5. They want to give the analyst some money to enhance the relationship,

Merv Adrian (I interviewed Merv here at http://www.dudeofdata.com/?p=2505) has responded well here at http://www.enterpriseirregulars.com/23040/white-paper-sponsorship-and-labeling/

None of the sites I checked clearly identify the work as having been sponsored in any way I found obvious in my (admittefly) quick scan. So this is an issue, but it’s not confined to Oracle.

My 2 cents (not being so well paid 😉 are-

I think Curt was calling out Oracle (which didnt respond) and not Merv ( whose subsequent blog post does much to clarify).

As a comparative new /younger blogger in this field,
I applaud both Curt to try and bell the cat ( or point out what everyone in AR winks at) and for Merv for standing by him.

In the long run, it would strengthen analyst relations as a channel if they separate financial payment of content from bias. An example is credit rating agencies who forgot to do so in BFSI and see what happened.

Customers invest millions of dollars in BI systems trusting marketing collateral/white papers/webinars/tests etc. Perhaps it’s time for an industry association for analysts so that individual analysts don’t knuckle down under vendor pressure.

It is easier for someone of Curt, Merv’s stature to declare editing policy and disclosures before they write a white paper.It is much harder for everyone else who is not so well established.

White papers can take as much as 25,000$ to produce- and I know people who in Business Analytics (as opposed to Business Intelligence) slog on cents per hour cranking books on R, SAS , webinars, trainings but there are almost no white papers in BA. Are there any analytics independent analysts who are not biased by R or SAS or SPSS or etc etc. I am not sure but this looks like a good line to  pursue 😉 – provided ethical checks and balances are established.

Personally I know of many so called analytics communities go all out to please their sponsors so bias in writing does exist (you cant praise SAS on a R Blogging Forum or R USers Meet and you cant write on WPS at SAS Community.org )

– at the same time someone once told me- It is tough to make a living as a writer, and that choice between easy money and credible writing needs to be respected.

Most sponsored white papers I read are pure advertisements, directed at CEOs rather than the techie community at large.

Almost every BI vendor claims to have the fastest database with 5X speed- and benchmarking in technical terms could be something they could do too.

Just like Gadget sites benchmark products, you can not benchmark BI or even BA products as it is written not to do so  in many licensing terms.

Probably that is the reason Billions are spent in BI and the positive claims are doubtful ( except by the sellers). Similarly in Analytics, many vendors would have difficulty justifying their claims or prices if they are subjected to a side by side comparison. Unfortunately the resulting confusion results in shoddy technology coming stronger due to more aggressive marketing.