Open Source Products and Compliance

James McGovern, writing in his February 18th  IT
toolbox blog
, asks for more analyst engagement and coverage regarding open
source options for users.  He suggests …

Maybe the next step is to get several analysts who blog to expose themselves to a vocal audience. Maybe they could ping this entry’s trackback and let the dialog begin. Online audiences routinely discuss, debate and refute industry analyst research.

I think that would be great.  Sign me up … I would be happy to
contribute.  But, what what would be even more useful, for me — certainly
more useful than discussions of industry analyst research — would be hearing
more about what open source platforms and tools are turning out to be most
valuable as companies implement compliance solutions.

In my own work as an analyst/writer over the last decade I have discovered
some things that match up–at least in a rough way–with McGovern’s
concerns.  I started out sizing markets, projecting growth, figuring up
market share, and so on.  I learned a couple of things after a few years of
this.  One is that it is hard to predict the future.  A second thing
was that the methodologies available for estimating current market size and
market share in markets that are relatively young and still emerging are subject
to a lot of error.  You can do it for toothpaste or cola, but there is a
lot of guesswork and making of assumptions when you are looking at something
like "content management" or, heaven forbid,
"compliance." 

But perhaps the most striking, humbling thing that I learned is that the
market sizes, growth projections, and so on that I worked so hard to create are
typically not useful to the people and firms that actually USE technology. 
It is critically important stuff for technology vendors … but
technology users are more concerned about what works than they are with
the size of the market. 

So, I don’t do market size estimates anymore.  I am much more interested
in finding out what people are doing and what works.

As I look at Sarbanes Oxley and other compliance issues, the question of
"what works?" seems more important than ever.

So, James, I really like the idea of using trackbacks and other tools to get
a discussion going that brings more open source tools to the forefront. 
But, rather than worrying about what the analysts think, I would be more
interested in finding out more about what companies are using, for what
applications, and what is working. 

I see that James
Governor of RedMonk
is also interested in joining the conversation.  (I
will say a bit more about RedMonk’s interesting thinking about "Compliance
Oriented Architecture" in a separate post.)  With James on board,
along with some people who are using open source approaches to compliance, I
think we could have a conversation that would be both interesting and really
useful.

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2 Comments

  1. You write:
    It is critically important stuff for technology vendors … but technology users are more concerned about what works than they are with the size of the market.
    Actually, I disagree with you here. It is true that users like stuff that “works”. On the other hand people like to “go with the flow”. If you are stuck with an excellent CMS that’s very useful but lacks the ONE big feature you’d need right now and it doesn’t have a strong community behind it, you have a problem.
    René C. Kiesler

  2. Industry Analysts and Open Source

    I recently had a conversation with Andreas of Nemertes Research and uncovered something very interesting about this particular firm. Usually when I talk with industry analysts in which we are not clients, they usually attempt to sell us their service…

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