Sunday, June 1, 2008

Taking a risk on open source

Sit back and let me tell you a story about a game-changing open source e-commerce project, an emerging web development firm in Bloomington, and how folks there discovered this project and I, in turn, discovered them.

(Open source is a model that provides access to a product's underlying technology and any specialized knowledge it took to create it. In the case of open source software, the underlying computer code --called "source code" -- is made available under some form of copyright license that adheres to the Open Source Definition.)

What I learned is illustrative of how Internet and web connections are changing everything from value discovery to customer satisfaction — and to how awareness of an emerging company can happen if they're in-the-game and leveraging new social media tools.

Last year, I was performing some due diligence for a client on e-commerce software. Stunned by how poorly executed most open source e-commerce projects were, I was delighted when happenstance brought me to this blog with a link to an open source e-commerce package called MagentoCommerce. After 30 minutes on the site, scanning posts in the forum and looking at the demos, I realized that the sheer scope of the energy, effort and enthusiasm the community was exhibiting around this open source project was going to raise the bar quite high for any other e-commerce offering ... whether commercial or open source.

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