LinuxTag 2010 With Many More and Great Talks

I am honestly proud of what the LinuxTag Program Committee achieved. The soon-to-be-announced program for this year’s event will have 25% more talks and even very interesting ones as well.

Keynote speakers such as Larry Augustin (CEO SugarCRM, Angel Investor) and Dirk Riehle (Germany’s first professor of Open Source Software) have already been announced. There are some more who have just confirmed their attendance, but I am not allowed to name them yet (surprise, surprise).

The committee has invested a lot of time pro-bono in directly contacting OSS projects and speakers and in evaluating talk proposals. Our goal was to make sure the program will feature some of the key projects and persons, providing a mix of introductory as well as advanced topics, technical as well as business-related talks. I am sure you will appreciate the program once it has been published at www.linuxtag.org within the next couple of days.

Kudos to my fellows at the program committee and thanks for bringing me in, it’s just so much fun! Many thanks also to everyone who proposed a talk!

LinuxTag 2010: Call for Papers Ends Today

LinuxTag is the most important place for Linux and open source software in Europe. Last year, LinuxTag had over ten thousand attendees, and over 300 speakers. This year, the 16th LinuxTag will be June 9-12, 2010 at the Berlin Fairgrounds in Germany.

LinuxTag seeks exciting and suitable proposals for presentations in the conference tracks. The Call for Papers ends today.

I am proud to be a member of the LinuxTag Program Committee. Although a lot of proposals have already been submitted, there are some topics missing that I’d personally like to see covered. So, if you’re up for a last minute submission, get your inspiration from the following list:

  • Is/was the recent economic crisis an opportunity for Open Source?
  • More real-life case studies on how OSS is being used in mission-critical scenarios.
  • A European or global perspective on Open Source in Public Administration.
  • How to make use of Amazon EC2 or Google AppEngine with Open Source apps?
  • Technical tutorials for beginners, especially for building Web apps (e.g. PHP/Ruby/Java/etc. for beginners).
  • High performance Web environments with Open Source tools
  • Security in the Cloud
  • What’s the status of some of the regional Linux distributions?

I can’t promise that your talk will be accepted if it covered one of the above topics. The review process is of course a joint effort of the whole Program Committee. Anyway, it’s definitely worth a try. Of course, any other topic I did not think of is also highly welcome.

Go here to submit your LinuxTag proposal.

Calendar of Open Source, IT, Industry-specific Events

World-wide Free and Open Source Software EventsInitMarketing has made its calendar of world-wide conferences and trade fairs related to Free and Open Source Software, IT and specific industries available to the public.

It currently includes 122 events in 17 countries taking place in 2009. 43 of them in Germany, 69 in USA. We use this calendar when planing events for our customers, thus we’ll regularly update it. Please let us know of any events which are not on our radar yet by commenting to my blog or commenting at the bottom of the events page.

Two InitMarketing Customers Win Open Source Business Award

Open Source Business Foundation (OSBF) yesterday announced the winners of the Open Source Business Award. Two InitMarketing customers won prizes: todoyu won the 3rd prize (10k EUR) and OXID eSales shared the 1st prize (receiving 32.5k EUR).

OSBF annually awards innovative ideas, thought through concepts and promising business plans with the Open Source Business Award. It is being granted for innovative business ideas based on Open Source Software, which revolutionize the market and can set new standards.

Heise reports about the award in detail (German only).

Supporting Internal Open Source Evangelists

Free and Open Source software is often being introduced through the back door in SMBs as well as large corporations. In-house developers can any time download it at no cost and install it to see if it fits the requirements for internal projects. Due to this kind of go-to-market strategy, MySQL’s Marten Mickos once stated: “We don’t believe in converting.”

The question is: How about internal converting? How about the day, when in-house developers need to justify the use of FOSS to their managers when they seek to consolidate the corporate IT infrastructure? Will FOSS speak for itself?

That’s the day, when enthusiastic in-house developers should start to act and regard themselves as internal Open Source evangelists. They will attempt to build support for FOSS within their organization to establish it as part of the IT landscape. What can they do in favor of FOSS and what should FOSS vendors and projects do to support them?

As much as it is important in the public to achieve a critical mass of FOSS supporters, it is critical within organizations to convince the critical minds, i.e. the decision makers. Here are some points how internal evangelists should be supported:

  1. Internal Open Source evangelists might face the problem of being “the prophets in their own land”. They need to be supported in any possible way by external “objective” sources. For example, through publicly available marketing and sales material highlighting the business benefits of a certain FOSS product. Furthermore, FOSS vendors could have sales staff visit on site and talk to management directly. In general, it is highly important that there is enough easily accessible marketing material provided by FOSS vendors and projects that allow internal evangelists to pick or develop good arguments. A common mistake, especially by FOSS vendors is to hide valuable information, asuming that it will make potential clients call them, while it actually hurts the back door go-to-market strategy.
  2. The still growing momentum and usually positive media coverage helps internal evangelists to advocate FOSS within their organization by refering to success stories.
  3. The best argument in favor of FOSS is a working implementation. Given the easy availability and access to FOSS source code, in-house developers can quickly set up a proof-of-concept or even specific simple solutions for internal use.

In general, FOSS might benefit from general organizational changes going on in today’s companies that reward inidividual and bottom-up initiatives. Flat hierarchies are supposed to avoid the problem that the person actually purchasing software is not the person actually using it. Technical staff that enjoys building IT solutions with Free and Open Source software that actually works as advertised will not be frustrated by software purchased due to mesmerizing sales presentations.

FOSS as a movement can actually support companies in becoming more efficient and effective, not only in terms of TCO, but also in terms of reduced staff turnover and more innovation, because it supports a more open and egalitarian corporate culture. Once these two phenomena converge, proprietary vendors will have a hard time matching such a corporate culture and yes, then we won’t have to believe in converting any longer.

I am looking forward to discussing aspects of internal FOSS evangelism at the German OSMB workshop on FOSS as part of an IT strategy taking place Thursday, Jan 29, 11-13:00 together with moderator Heinrich Seeger (Heise) and the other panelists Matthew Langham (Indiginox), Dr. Uwe Schmid (McKinsey), Kristian Raue (Jedox).

Dates of Sales and Marketing Workshops Hosted by Open Source Business Foundation

The dates for the OSBF workshops on Open Source sales and marketing are now available online.

I’ll kick off the series of workshops together with Richard Seibt, former CEO SUSE, at February 18th in Nuremberg, Germany. From 10-13, I will introduce marketing Open Source software. Richard will talk about Open Source business models from 14-17.

The workshops will be in German and there will be enough time for discussions with participants.

OSBF members will not pay for attending the presentations, non-members will be charged EUR 150. Find more info on how to register for the workshops at the OSBF Web site.

Workshop at Open Source in Mobile Conference – Get 25% Off

InitMarketing teamed up with Olliance Group and we’ll present a workshop entitled Building an Effective Commercial Open Source Strategy at Open Source in Mobile (OSiM) conference, Berlin, September 19th. My fellow Roberto already posted some details about the OSiM workshop.

I got some 25% discount vouchers for the conference (valid until Friday, Sept 5th) – shoot me an email or leave a comment and I’ll get one to you.

Co-exhibit with OpenOffice.org at Systems

Flo of OpenOffice.org fame just pinged me via email and asked if I knew anyone who would be interested in exhibiting together with them at Systems trade fair. This is what he writes in his Weblog:

OpenOffice.org will exhibit at the Systems trade show in Munich, which takes place from October 21th to 24th, one month after the release of OpenOffice.org 3.0. If you are offering products, services or software related to OpenOffice.org, you are welcome to co-exhibit with us at our booth. Booth management, organization and marketing will be done by the association OpenOffice.org Deutschland e.V.

Given that OOo 3.0 will be released shortly before Systems, I guess there will be quite a hype. Hence, if you are in the OOo business in one or the other way, this seems like a great opportunity to raise your visibility.

Find more information and how to contact Flo in his post about the exhibiting opportunity with OOo at Systems.

Quick Marketing Analysis of Interchange Open Source E-commerce Platform

While at LinuxTag 2008, I met with Jure Kodzoman of Interchange fame. Interchange is a well established Open Source e-commerce platform, existing for over 12 years, and very popular in the USA.

We sat down to discuss from a marketing perspective the Interchange website and a brochure they created for distribution at their LinuxTag booth.

Interchange website

These are the issues I identified and some changes I proposed to Jure (which would still need some more consideration before being implemented):

  1. The current domain name of the website (icdevgroup.org) is extremely hard to remember because it does not relate to the Interchange brand. The domain needs to be in sync with the project name, hence they should move the website to a domain that includes “interchange” in its name. It need not be a .com TLD, .org or .net suffice for a community-driven OSS project.
  2. Today’s tagline ” Powering web-based applications since 1995″ does not tell that Interchange is an e-commerce platform nor that it is Open Source. Better taglines would be “The most flexible Open Source E-commerce Platform” or “The first Open Source E-commerce Platform” or “The Open Source Platform Powering E-commerce world-wide since 1995”. It’s a great selling point that Interchange exists since 1995 and it might be a valid claim that they are – yet another potential tagline – “The first Open Source Alternative for E-commerce”.
  3. The Interchange website lacks a concise welcome blurb on the front page. This makes it very hard to visitors new to Interchange understand what it is about. A sample welcome blurb: “Interchange is powering e-commerce since 1995. Its proven and highly flexible open source platform provides the building blocks to assemble individual online shop solutions. Interchange can be easily configured to grow with your business.”
  4. It is better to communicate only one major news on the front page through a banner especially to guide new visitors. For example, don’t advertise LinuxTag in one banner plus a general banner plus a banner about the Interchange 5.6 release in the same space. Instead, highlight the 5.6 release in a banner, provide a link to a landing page and at that landing page, say: “Come to LinuxTag and get a hands-on demo”.