[Contractors] joint marketdevelopment

Marc Vloemans marcvloemans at b3partners.nl
Sun Nov 16 06:25:23 EST 2008


Somehow we seem to agree and disagree at the same time. Perhaps a matter of which way one earns his money. My company employs 10 FTE's and has additional support from individual specialists per project. Decisions around OS GIS introduction in organisations are not any more a matter of a few specialists who fly under the radar. Larger DMU's are nowadays involved. One has to convince also non-specialist managers and the like. Most important, support issues need to be addressed in a satisfactory manner ( a sore item in most OS areas's) In the Netherlands I have co-initiated a group of individual specialists and companies who will be able to contract as a single entity. We attract a lot of interest and present customers are happy to have gained access to a more continu support framework, that does not depend on a few individuals any more.

And as for hungriness. With the booming market in my environment the plates are laden. The body shop business model will surely work for specific temporary customer needs. What I am worried about is that there are too few larger entities in our world that can contract for large turn key OS projects and provide continuity in the longer term. This seems to be the case in The Netherlands, where large integrators are invited for the bigger tenders. Once won, they subcontract most of the technical work to the small OS GIS contractors for a pittance. Also, we barely see any donations to the community from their side. The ultimate negative side is that closed solutions will win out in the long term, as customers will want to do business with large established entities from a (perceived) risk perspective.

I have wondered over the last years how eager specialists are to throw their 'crown juwels' onto the street, but when it comes to jointly developing the market in a commercial manner it is everyone for himself. It is like small farmers working theirs land, without real;ising that they are asked by the market to scale up. Perhaps it is a clash of cultures and business models. After years of hard work we have created the awareness, now it is time to follow up on that an move up to the next level. Away with the hobbyist image and prove the business case that OS provides tangible added value.

Kind regs, Marc

Met vriendelijke groet,

Marc Vloemans
Algemeen nr 030 214 2081

From: Frank Warmerdam [mailto:warmerdam at pobox.com]
To: Marc Vloemans [mailto:marcvloemans at b3partners.nl]
Cc: contractors at lists.osgeo.org
Sent: Mon, 10 Nov 2008 23:31:32 +0100
Subject: Re: [Contractors] FOSS developer marketing benefit, only for developers...

Marc Vloemans wrote:
  > In response to the discussion bij Frank and Robert I would suggest that 
  > their approach could only work if their customer/audience is a developer 
  > him-/herself. Perhaps the discussion should take into account whom you 
  > try to target, in stead of only addresseing the 'how2'. FOSS-duscussions 
  > on the topic 'marketing' often seem to overlook that the majority of 
  > users has no inkling of the engine underneath the bonnet. Pehaps some 
  > market segmentation is helpful.
  > I am curious if others will help broaden the discussion into a regular 
  > brainstorm on How2 market FOSS
  I thought we were trying to market ourselves (aka contractors)!
  On the point of reaching developers vs. end users, I agree that different
  steps can be helpful.
  If "read to use" packages are provided to reasonably savvy end users, then
  I think the same techniques that work for developers can work for users.
  However, additional steps may be helpful to advertise the developers
  involvement and availability for additional contracting.  Often high visibility
  in documentation and on mailing lists is helpful in this regard.
  However, this does not address the market of "end users who are unlikely to
  troll the internet for your open source solution".  These must either be
  reached by more conventional marketing mechanisms (booths at tradeshows,
  cold calls, slightly-warm calls, etc), though ensuring that FOSS solutions
  are in the trade media can also help to reach these clients.
  For myself, it is rare for me to go searching for clients, and to try to
  educated them on my skills and the utility of FOSS solutions for their
  needs.  But more "hungry" contractors then me will likely have to do this.
  Best regards,
  I set the clouds in motion - turn up   | Frank Warmerdam, warmerdam at pobox.com
  light and sound - activate the windows | http://pobox.com/~warmerdam
  and watch the world go round - Rush    | Geospatial Programmer for Rent
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