[Contractors] joint marketdevelopment

Frank Warmerdam warmerdam at pobox.com
Mon Nov 17 12:09:14 EST 2008

Marc Vloemans wrote:
> Frank,
> 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. 


I'm afraid I don't know what FTE's and DMU's are.

> 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.

I have often worked behind a "medium sized integrator" like DM Solutions
as a subcontractor with the medium sized integrator providing the
depth and breadth to take on a comprehensive support solution.  I
do see this role as quite important to our ecosystem.  Certainly I'd
prefer to work under an FOSS4G savvy organization like DM Solutions,
WhereGroup, CamptoCamp, etc rather than some general IT monster like

> 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 don't see the big FOSS4G unsavvy organizations as the most desirable
scenario, but I don't quite follow the consequence you suggest.  It seems
to me that the big organizations can be a viable part of our ecosystem
and that given some education all around FOSS4G can be a desirable
and viable part of their solution suite.  Can you explain why you
think their acting as intermediaries will drive things towards closed
source solutions?

> 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.

I agree completely that we (the FOSS4G developers/integrators) need to
work to increase our credibility and move up the food chain.  Certainly
this was a major rationale for my participation in OSGeo from it's
launch, though OSGeo is only part of the solution.

A few thoughts on my part:

1) I'd like to draw some of the big integrators who try and maintain
some geospatial expertise more into the community.  Get them out to
conferences, participating in projects, etc.   We have had very good
success in this regard with what I'd call "medium sized" integrators
but not so much with the biggies (at least as far as I've seen).

2) When end user organizations seek FOSS4G solutions, we need to
educate these organizations on the benefits of contracting with
organizations that are more involved in the community.  (The benefits
in terms of getting access to the most appropriate technical
expertise, as well as the benefit of sustaining a community that is
providing important benefits to the organization).

3) We FOSS4G service organizations and individuals need to cooperate
in an effort to address bigger contracts.

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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