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The Yin and Yang of Open Source Commerce - page 14

Introduction

  • November 1, 2005
  • By John Terpstra

Our world is full of clich�s, one of which says: Business is all about making money. The presuppositions that underlie this simple clich� are truly revealing. It is often used in a context that implies justification for treating people as less than human, and as if ethics do not matter. Business should be most concerned about serving customers to enrich their world, and the measure of how well this is achieved is the profit (money) made out of doing it well. You see, the question is one of what or who is central to a business. If the sole purpose of a business is self-enrichment, and if ethics and morals do not count, then why not just rob a bank?

So, reflecting back on the earlier discussion regarding channel conflict, it must be recognized that business involves relationships and trust. Any company that wishes to build a long-term stable and profitable business must protect its business relationships. This means that a hardware manufacturer, or a software development house, must respect and protect the relationships it has with its VARs, as well as those of the VAR with its customers. Anything that undermines that trust is ultimately destructive of the market as a whole.

Linux has not failed in the market at which it has been directed, it has performed like a star! But it can not be denied that Linux has failed to address the most significant market from which it could have grown exponentially.

The market for Linux-based business solutions has not gone away. The market has changed over the past decade, but it is still abundantly to be found in the breadbasket of a nations' productivity--the major contributor to its Gross Domestic Product, the SMB/SME market.

There is a saying, that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Another way this is sometimes expressed is, that with every change in the market there is a reaction that seeks to cancel out the net effect of the change. There is no substitute for clear perception, action with conviction, persistence and determination to succeed. There is also no-one who can catapult a business towards stardom than willing and committed customers and consumers.

It must be recognized that in the entirely unlikely and unreasonable event that Linux might totally replace all competitors in the enterprise segment of the market, in the grand scheme of things, it would still be a minority player. If any Linux or OSS business wants to stand a chance to succeed in the larger market it must tackle the opportunity as close as possible to where the tap-root of its greater financial well-being is found.

Nothing can be gained by whining and complaining about the problems of doing business in particular market segments. Even if the whole IT industry and many power-brokers within it are diametrically opposed to everything it will take to be successful, the business that moves forward with dedication, determination and self-discipline will find the road to success. Every great journey begins with the first step.

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