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CRM, ECM Applications Increasing in Open-Source Popularity, Forum Finds

December 12, 2007

The Open Solutions Alliance, described by the Alliancers as "a nonprofit, vendor-neutral consortium" promoting interoperability and adoption of comprehensive open products, today announced the key findings uncovered during its 2007 Customer Forum Series.

The forum found the most widely used open-source applications included the application server Jboss, the commercial databases MySQL and Postgres and the Eclipse development platform. Software products such as Customer Relationship Management and Enterprise Content Management applications are also increasing in popularity.

After meeting with more than 100 customers in five cities throughout the United States and Europe, the OSA found that "interoperability between open products" tops the list of requirements among customers and channel partners who are deploying these products.

"These findings represent a clear opportunity for the OSA to out-Microsoft Microsoft by offering a fully interoperable suite of business tools," said Dominic Sartorio, OSA president. "If we can help our members' products work well together it makes it easier for our channel partners to sell open-source software and it will translate into more revenue for vendors and even more options for customers."

Key interoperability issues with small organizations include single sign-on and authorization, data integration and synchronization, UI and portal integration, and content management integration.

Larger enterprises also raised business process integration, production management, and legacy/proprietary integration as key issues. Across the board, non-technical interoperability issues, such as how to support and manage integrated products being sourced from multiple vendors, were also raised.

This summer the Open Solutions Alliance announced the availability of its first interoperability prototype. The OSA's debut prototype includes specific standards and best practices for delivering a Common Customer View across open applications and is on display at LinuxWorld San Francisco.

The CCV prototype integrates data from diverse front-office, back-office and planning applications to present a complete view of customer activity and interactions. The CCV prototype is being built, tested and demonstrated with products from Adaptive Planning, Centric CRM, JasperSoft, Openbravo, Talend and Unisys.

"The OSA was formed this year to address interoperability among open solutions. The CCV prototype is the first major fruit of our collaborative labors," said Barry Klawans, OSA spokesperson and CTO at JasperSoft. "We see the adoption of open solutions increasing, and with it the demand for these point products to work together."

According to a SpikeSource user survey conducted last fall, business customers rank "acquiring new customers" and "increasing customer loyalty" above all else. Meeting these goals can be difficult when business applications supporting various customer interactions are disconnected and diminish the end customer experience.

Companies that can integrate relevant customer data between the increasing number of open source applications they're using will have the most success in attracting new customers, retaining the existing ones and ultimately, increasing revenues as a result.

Other findings from OSA's 2007 Customer Forum Series include customers saying they are embracing more open products because open standards offer more options for integration and functionality. "In a world of frequent corporate mergers, open source also offers an assurance that the product will outlive the company," OSA officials noted.

Concerns about the GPL were discussed, but open-source software users largely felt the GPL was a help to their business -- discouraging competitors and facilitating collaboration. A white paper detailing the findings is available on the OSA website,


David Sims is a contributing editor for ContactCenterSolutions. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.