Being free from vendor lock-in and inflated promises

The benefits, the troughs and empowerment.

Christopher Simpson

Vendor lock-in

 Buy good service, not a license fee.

Karma Computing is a young company, despite this, we've seen our fair share of shoddy business practices in the software industry. We see this most in product based or 'off the shelf' software offerings. The model is simple: you buy a licence for some software in the hope that the software you buy is all that its stacked up to be. The challenge, is to raise the following questions- 

  • How free are you to alter this software?
  • How quickly does the company respond to changing the product for your business needs?
Bad software takes you out of the divers seat of your business, good software supports you to grow.
A recent clients business was entirely beholden to a closed source piece of software called Mamut which ran the tills, stock, and even the website. Because of this, it set the rules as to how the business should run, how internal processes should be done including activities and communication. 
It was a substantial piece of software which, in the 90s, would have been considered innovative. Unfortunately, its development slowed, and what was impressive then no longer makes the software seem all that special. It had become a cash cow, its days numbered.
Odoo image and text block

Open Source Can Set You Free

But be prepared to think for yourself

Interesting common traits emerge from clients used to the 'off the shelf' software business model. 
They aren't used to the flexibility open source brings, this has some good and bad ramifications, either: 
  • They get excited about this new found freedom- finally they have control!
  • They're overwhelmed by the sheer number of options, and flexibility they now have
Essentially, the old black-box software that they used to use provided comfort as it would impose its own business rules onto the business owner. Yet,  this time, the table has turned. Now the business owner is back in control and the software is letting them customise it to their business needs. 
Fight or flight is a common response to this situation. For some clients its too much, they're happy to bite the bullet and stay stagnant using their black box software. Others, (the more daring or better informed), will see the benefits of taking on a little initial pain in order to reap the benefits of taking control again of their business. The computers are no longer running the show, you orchestrate them. 

Final food-for-thought

Computers shouldn't be controlling your business, you should.

There's a tendency in software to think that it's somehow unattainable, overly complex, and therefore expensive. 

Know that the software industry has rapidly changed since the 90s.
Software is an iterative process. We now use tools to automate the testing of new features, upgrades. Its simply a lot faster to change, refine software. Yes you still need a programmer, but you don't need someone to sell you a 5 year project. The real challenge remains and is largely outside the domain of computing: To understand the problem you are trying to solve. This is vital to choosing the right tools and software to get the job done right. 

Procure based on service not licence fees.
 How supported do you feel by your vendor? There's no need in this day and age to leave your company beholden to a license fee. Instead, have your service provider beholden to you. By seeking open source tools you are buying the professional skills and advice of a company and not a licence fee for a product.     

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