Open Source Strategies

A blog about open source software and business models, enterprise software, and the opentaps Open Source ERP + CRM Suite.

Monday, May 01, 2006

My Sequel for Open Source ERP

Pardon the pun. This is not about how to install MySQL for an open source ERP application. If that's what you're looking for, please read our Using opentaps ERP + CRM with MySQL installation guide instead.

This is about some further thoughts on the future of open source ERP and CRM applications. We were at MySQL Users' Conference last week in Santa Clara, CA and had the opportunity to speak with many different people about our open source ERP and CRM project. During those conversations and during my presentation about open source ERP, I had talked about the open source ERP proposition being the following:
  1. Lower cost - commercial ERP software is simply too expensive
  2. Greater flexibility - with the source code, you can really create a solution that works for you, rather than relying on ugly workarounds on top of an inflexible commercial solution
  3. Freedom from vendor lock in - obviously no longer an issue with open source solutions.
All of the above is still true, of course, but I now think there is more to it than that. Hence, "my sequel" for open source ERP.

What I realized is that for open source to succeed, it needs to be more than just a cheaper and better alternative to commercial software. It needs to serve a need which commercial software simply does not address right now. (Tim O'Reilly pointed out a related phenomenon in his keynote at the conference as well: open source software has not replaced commercial software so much as enabled new business models.)

When you look at the most successful open source projects, this is exactly what they have done. Apache, MySQL, and PHP have become successful not by replacing commercial alternatives, but by becoming the preferred tools or platforms of choice for new web-based applications. Similarly, I now realize that open source ERP and CRM applications need to address a currently dormant need. What that need is, though, is not too clear yet. Maybe I'll think of it at some point. Or, maybe somebody in our community will come up with it first--or better, yet, implement it and send in a patch.

Whoever does would be the one who writes the sequel for open source ERP.

Bookmark and Share