From our experience, we want to share with you what we took into account to make the decision to "share" our software platform with the Open community. Zahorí, and how we have carried it out.
1. Listen to your customers
It seems obvious, but it is the first thing you should do. In our business experience with Zahorí we find a common characteristic: our clients flee from "VENDOR LOCKING".
When we presented our automation solution, we found ourselves more doubts about what will happen if the company disappears, changes hands, or if it decides for business reasons to discontinue the development of the product, than about the technical solution itself.
Potential clients are afraid to commit to a solution that they cannot sustain over time, so by offering an Open platform we eliminate barriers to entry for new clients and offer much more flexibility.
We also observe in our clients a priority choice of Open Source products to optimize the return on their investment. They do not perceive a return on the payment of licenses, and they need to adjust the cost of their projects ... as long as there is a committed company behind that supports them over time and offers them support. And it is along this line that we wanted to place ourselves.
2. Evaluate your target market
When evaluating our target market, we did not identify a clear Open Source leader in process automation. So we considered that there was a relevant potential opportunity.
This, together with the fact that the digital projects with the most impact currently are based on Open Source products, strengthened our position and encouraged us to do so.
3. The Open community favors Innovation
Being open to a community allows you to receive external contributions regarding ideas, uses and evolution of your product. If we do it right, the Open community will be a source of identification of priorities in the evolution of your software over the years.
On the other hand, having the "guts" of your product available to anyone makes them able to collaborate with you and make you much more careful with its quality.
And on a more metaphysical level, it certainly encourages the adoption of a healthy corporate culture centered on creativity, collaboration, reciprocity, generosity, and empathy.
4. The Open community encourages dissemination
We want our product to be used. Let it be known. Let it be tested. And an Open community is very suitable for the dissemination of your product.
In addition, an Open Source product has better access to podcasts, local talks, conferences, events, than a commercial product. The diffusion of the community itself greatly and naturally improves the branding of your product and its positioning in the market.
5. Generate new sales channels
Well yes, the big question is but how do I generate income with an Open Source product?
The Open community allows us to rely on the “test and use freely” philosophy to first generate market, and then generate income by providing additional services, customizations, applications or payment plugins that complement the base product, through a Self-Service platform. There are well-known examples of this in the software world: Asterisk, RedHat, Ubuntu, OpenShift, etc ...
Therefore, although at first it may not seem like it, an Open Source product favors the acquisition of new leads, business opportunities (leads), and therefore, future income.
6. What about the competition?
The main brake that comes to mind is what happens if they copy us? What happens if a company arrives, and after all our effort, copies us and sells "our" product?
The first thing you should ask yourself is, will it really be your product? 😉 probably not. You must begin to assume that you will always have competition, people who offer the same, perhaps something similar or something substitute. Not having it would mean that there is surely no market for your product, which would be even worse.
There is no special risk in this behavior. Competition is a great gift and being an Open Source tool is a competitive advantage in itself. If they copy you, it is because your product is good. Focus on your strengths, and strive to always be the best.
In addition, being Open Source allows you to know similar experiences, investigate, enrich yourself with your competition, and integrate into other valuable communities. And it will allow you to further develop a proactive, creative and innovative mindset for your product.
7. Where to start?
If you have read this far and are convinced to enter the Open Source world, these are the steps that we took, once we were clear about the 6 previous advantages:
- Lean on the experience of others who have already traveled the same path.
- Start by publishing the source code on a public platform. We have done it in GitHub.
- Generates useful documentation to facilitate the use of the product.
- And keep an active participation in the community to try to lead it.
In short, in the team of Zahorí we have considered the risks a lot. But today, we are clear that it is worth assuming them and benefiting from the advantages of being Open Source.
Do you dare to share your software?
By the way, if you are wondering what is that of Zahorí, I summarize it: Zahorí is a software product for the automation of technical and business flows, with which you will save time and reduce costs. It is indeed an Open Source product, and this is the thread to pull: https://zahori.io/