Thursday, February 23, 2006

Open Source us

Some trends seem very obvious; therefore it's pretty perplexing to me that I meet so many marketers that have not reflected on one of the most important trends for the next decade: "The Open Source Movement".

What is the Open Source Movement? It originated in the software industry around 1998, when developers started to dislike proprietary systems and gathered online to write “Open Source” software (e.g. Linux, Mozilla). Open Source combines the elements of collaborative development, individual contributions from a wide range of individuals, and the free access to anyone. The movement tries to bring the best minds together on a global scale in developing a particular solution and demands that the outcome is shared without any fee with as many people as possible.

Since its beginning stage, the concept of “Open Source” has aggressively moved beyond software applications. Great examples are Wikipedia (Free Online Encyclopedia), Google’s free software applications like Google Earth, or the tremendous free picture and video libraries of any of the major Web Portals. Now it’s less about building better software than Microsoft as it is about building platforms enabling individuals to create and provide relevant content for a much larger audience.

Over the next years this Open Source movement will further penetrate consumer marketing and influence strongly many value aspects of the marketing services industry. The proprietary value notion of any marketing service provider will be challenged. I believe that three key elements of marketing will become more and more open source:

  • Data - The foundation of any communication is “Information”, which is nothing else than interpreted data. This Information is more and more readily available, 24/7, free, and can be combined with any other Information to provide even richer Information. Think “Craigslist” on top of Google Earth, think Real Estate Information connected with household specific value indicators (
  • Ideas - Google, Yahoo!, and any other aggregator of created Content (either by individuals or corporations) enable our access to billions of Ideas. The nature of proprietary ideas and concepts will be challenged by the ubiquity of any kind of ideas, most of them boring, but some of them very interesting.
  • Applications - Proprietary software are under heavy attack by multitudes of open source projects ( counts more than ten thousand open source projects). Look at the Open Source statistical software package R that matches proprietary software applications like SPSS or SAS.

This will lead to a democratization and proliferation of information and software applications that will fundamentally change any aspect of the so often “proprietary” marketing industry. The chance for us marketers lies in the opportunity to utilize and combine all three areas of open source to build smarter insight driven marketing solutions, all for the benefit of the customer.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Shane said...

Generally I agree there will be an impact but I'm not sure what you mean about Google Earth, it is far from Open Source.

Open Source does not mean free, the essence is more in the license that states anyone may copy, modify and distribute the software as long as they provide the code. This way whenever the software is improved it is improved for everyone. This principal has been applied to wikipedia, as you said. Anyway, check out

You've already mentioned R, but here is a pretty good blog that lists some open source analytic tools:

3:06 PM  
Blogger Michael Fassnacht said...

Thanks for your comment. Google Earth has an open source version where you can overlay a limited amount of data through their open APIs. But you are right, to do anything real with Google Earth, you have to buy the entreprise version which is still pretty cheap.

I checked out your the opensouceanalytics website, looks interesting. Check out , if you don't know it yet. I am involved in the company who helped launching it. There is some good things happening beyond Jaspersoft and Pentaho.

8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Almost every small business owner wants growth - including me. For some reason many of us have difficulty achieving that growth. We know what to do - but putting it into action is more difficult. marketing small businesses is all about solutions that help put our marketing efforts into action

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

However, R does not have similar data crunching
stuff(like the SAS datastep or SPSS).

You should check out my new data crunching programming language, free download:
blog is: "data helper" at

It's the best!


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