The July issue of the OSBR marks two major milestones. First, the OSBR enters its fourth year of publication, as the very first issue of the OSBR rolled off the virtual press on July 23, 2007. Since then, we've explored 37 editorial themes and published the works of over 200 authors.
The second milestone involves an announcement and an introduction. I'll be stepping down as Managing Editor in order to start a new position as the Director of Community Development for the PC-BSD project. PC-BSD is an open source desktop operating system, based on the popular FreeBSD operating system. It is designed to be an easy-to-use open source desktop and has a vibrant and growing community of users, developers, translators, and documentation writers.
I'm pleased to announce that Chris McPhee will be taking over the helm of the OSBR. Chris' previous experience in management, design, and editorial roles will serve him well in his new role of Managing Editor. Having worked closely with him over the past few months, I'm confident that his sharp attention to detail, sense of humour, and eagerness to expand his knowledge of open source issues will ensure that the OSBR continues to be a quality and informative resource. Please join me in welcoming Chris to the OSBR.
It has been a great pleasure to see the steady growth of the OSBR from a nascent idea to a monthly publication that consistently brings value to its readership. While I'm looking forward to the challenges of my new position, I will miss working with the OSBR advisory board, the guest editors, the authors, and those readers who provide valuable feedback.
The editorial theme for this issue of the OSBR is Go To Market. The authors in this issue provide insight into target market selection, the advantages of a volume market strategy, strategies for aligning with business partners, improving product-market fit, and traditional as well as emerging open source business models.
The editorial theme for the upcoming August issue of the OSBR is Interdisciplinary Lessons and the guest editor will be Mekki MacAulay. Submissions are due by July 15--contact Chris McPhee if you are interested in a submission.
Historically, the concept of going to market is fraught with misinterpretation, doubt, and anxiety. In Canada, the term "go to market" typically means the task of readying a product for market. In this context, it is interchangeable with "commercialization," which is another concept suffering in Canada from a definition that generally does not go beyond a software maker’s front door. In other parts of the world, and specifically in the U.S., the term "go to market" is clearly interpreted as meaning all the activities required to successfully launch a product into the marketplace and realize both market share and profit.
Going to market is about bringing the right benefit to the right market at the right price through the right channels. Ideally, the entire go-to-market process begins with the identification of a problem or sought-after benefit that a market segment has deemed a priority. More realistically, though, it begins with identifying the segment that best suits the software offering and then determines the business model, positioning and message, pricing, channels, and engagement techniques that will work best in building share in that segment. This issue attempts to take some of the doubt and anxiety from what seems to be the daunting task of pushing a product out of the door and into the harsh realities of a demanding market. It provides clear-eyed discussions of some of the main components, tips and advice from the "battle-scarred," and useful tools that can be readily used.
As author of this issue’s first article, I discuss the importance of segmenting the larger market and then determining the right target segment in which to move, which is perhaps the most critical moment of a go-to-market process for start-up companies. Choosing a good target segment and then focusing effort and resources on that segment significantly reduces go-to-market risk. The article explores what it means to segment an addressable market and provides six steps to help young companies sort through its options and make an intelligent, informed decision.
Fred Holahan, founder and president of Open Source Advisory, discusses how open source has changed traditional ways of connecting with prospects and customers and recommends a move away from more traditional software vendor market approaches toward a volume market strategy. Building from the premise that the familiar, old sales funnel does not work in open source markets, the article explores the lifecycle of open source relationships through a "progressive engagement" model that all makers and sellers of software, open source or not, should pay attention to.
Susan Riekki-Odle, Founder and President of ChannelGain, highlights the importance of treating the degree of alignment among your business partners as a key performance indicator. Effectively taking a new product to market is not a solitary task and usually involves a range of different types of business partners. Riekki-Odle looks at the degree of alignment among partners as a key performance indicator and provides insight into how a long-term view of partnering combined, with concrete steps such as ecosystem analysis and economic modeling, can improve the success of partner strategies. Using best practices and actual examples, this article provides core take-aways that can make an immediate difference for emerging companies.
Craig Fitzpatrick, author and entrepreneur, follows by keying onto a unique aspect of the open source world: community. His article delves into how open source, community-based software projects can improve product-market fit by integrating users into the development process. Fitzpatrick uses the experience of Shopify, a maker of e-commerce software, as it turned to its community for help with enhancements that were beyond the company’s ability. The result was a product that better suited its users and provided a range of benefits for the company, which spanned from tighter customer engagement to a supportable continuous-improvement model.
Thomas Prowse, a legal expert and business advisor with deep experience in open source software, answers questions about currently prevalent models, particularly dual licensing and services, as well as emerging models such as open core, hybrid, and entersource. Prowse’s conclusion is telling: trying to identify who is and who is not an open source vendor is not is becoming increasingly difficult as software vendors of all stripes incorporate some aspect of open source in their processes, applications, and usage.