Open Source & The Innovators Solution
by Tom Wentworth
I've spent most of my career working for commercial web content management companies. But over the past few years, something became very clear to me - commercial CMS products are broken. Vendors are spending more time building features to compete with each other than they are trying to solve real-world customer problems.
This idea is captured in one of my favorite books, The Innovators Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen. The idea is that over time, vendors in mature technology markets like web content management have to build niche high end features to differentiate their products and justify pricing models.
Christensen describes the problem this way:
When the performance of two or more competing products has improved beyond what the market demands, customers can no longer base their choice upon which is the higher performing product. The basis of product choice often evolves from functionality to reliability, then to convenience, and, ultimately, to price.
I'd argue this describes exactly what has happened to the web content management market. Vendors are building Web Experience Management (WEM) "suites", trying to lock customers into a single, expensive, platform. But while the problem of WEM is very real, the idea there will ever be "one suite to rule them all", isn't. Customers want the freedom and agility that comes with choice.
And that's why open source is a better way to build software. The community doesn't get distracted by the allure of solving niche problems just differentiate against other vendors. Instead the community builds solutions to real world problems, resulting in better products, better economics, and more freedom. Open Source *is* the Innovators Solution.
And in joining Acquia, I'm thrilled to be part of the solution, and not the problem.