Our profound OSS questions

I first met him… at a dinner my mother had put together. On my way there, I thought, ‘Why would I want to meet this guy who picks stocks?’ I thought he just used various market-related things—like volume, or how the price had changed over time—to make his decisions. But when we started talking that day, he didn’t ask me about any of those things. Instead he started asking big questions about the fundamentals of our business. ‘Why can’t IBM do what Microsoft does? Why has Microsoft been so profitable?’ That’s when I realized he thought about business in a much more profound way than I’d given him credit for.”
Bill Gates
speaking about Warren Buffett.

Have you ever noticed how most people in our industry talk in the OSS equivalent of a stock-picker’s, “volume or how the price has changed over time”? We get stuck asking questions such as:

  • What programming language is it written in
  • What database does it use
  • What interfaces does it have
  • Does it follow certain standards
  • Can it do function X
  • Will it allow me to integrate with product Y
  • Do I need to customise it to support feature Z
  • Does it have an elegant GUI (Graphical User Interface)
  • Should I use a messaging bus

But we often overlook the more profound questions, the ones that justify the existence of OSS or the ones that really separate one product / vendor / integrator from another.

  • What problem/s does this OSS solve
  • How does this OSS support the CSP’s broader mission / vision
  • How will this OSS make the CSP better
  • How will this OSS make the CSP more valuable to its customers
  • Why can’t other solutions (eg EMS, NMS, command-line configurations) do what this OSS does
  • How can this OSS provide a competitive advantage to the CSP and its customers
  • How can this OSS help the CSP withstand, or prosper from, the massive changes underway in technology industries (ie to be more flexible)
  • How do I reduce the costs / risks / time / effort
  • How can we make all things OSS simpler
  • How can it help me to derive truly valuable insights from all the information it collects… and what types of insights are they

What are your profound OSS questions??

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4 Responses

  1. Hi Ryan, these are some very good points – I haven’t checked them against your Business Case generation material but they seem quite relevant? (obvious question.. 🙂

  2. Good to hear 🙂 Product agility & service chaining (mash-ups?) seem to be getting a bit of airplay these days (these could be considered to fall under a couple of your points above though 🙂

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