Sunday, October 26, 2008

CRM - Open Source or Regular Software?

Open Source is great - for software that is being used en-masse around the world. It works well when

* there are millions of users around the world for that need
* when there is a strong core that stays frozen and innovation is limited to open areas
* when there is a powerful consortium playing the role of a regulator and innovator
* when there is enough motivation for partners and individuals around the world to have their own successful business models around it

I love Open Source models when it comes to Operating Systems and Databases e.g. Linux or MySQL.

For CRM, I am skeptical of Open Source doing well in the long run. This is primarily because Enterprise Applications & CRM vary depending on the industry vertical, organization model, country specific statutory needs, different product and customer models and hence there is a need for a large number of flavors. There are hundreds of vendors and most are surviving because there is a need to serve these variations. Open source solutions may appear to be adaptable to these variations, but when deeper modifications are to be done, partners in the consortium will find the going tough. Vendors who know their code and provide good tools do better.

At the surface CRM may be the same, but if you are a distribution company one CRM may be better, if you are a financial services firm something else may be better and if you are in real estate you may need a version that specializes in that vertical.

The open source model relies on partners and it is not easy for partners to modify the source code even though they have access to it. Such applications may have half a million lines of code and wrong modifications may make the applications unstable. A product with strong core functionality, business relevance to your vertical, good adaptability features and good services around it may be the better choice.

Don't be swayed by the freedom of open source - finally it is parameters like relevance to your business, reliability, service levels and affordability that matter. These do not change - open source or not.

That is why KServe is not an open source model, but an open customer model. We make sure that your business is served well by our CRM product, the associated utilities and the implementation service model.

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