I’m just back from the Open Source Solution Centre’s Information Evening at the Seagoe Hotel, Daniel Bled has obviously worked hard at sharing his passion for open source software, he and the rest of the team from Southern Regional College & InvestNI put on an evening they should be proud of.  Daniel did a sterling job of trying to convey the Open Source philosophy to the gathered non-technical, business oriented audience.  He focused on:

  1. Open Source – the source code is available for all to view.
  2. Open Licensing – zero licensing costs for using the software, although support costs.
  3. Open Access – your data isn’t locked away.
  4. Open To Change – you have the source code, you can make it fit your needs.

I’m paraphrasing all of this as I didn’t take notes and this is all from memory – Daniel please feel free to correct me.  I’m sure Stallman & Co would be spitting blood by now, but Daniel’s pitch seemed to strike home with the audience, I think The Four Fundamental Freedoms would have been lost on them in the 10min Daniel had.

After a substantial meal, we had a talk from an InvestNI representative who attempted to convince us that the current economic environment is tough, but we have some come through tougher aspects in the last few decades, and he did a fairly good job – the outlook is gloomy, but a lack of confidence will only make things worse.  He repeated a comment I have heard before, “the project was good last month, it’ll be good next month, if it makes sense, do it.  Don’t let the bad outlook on the news put you off”.  Here here.

The next stage was a little more depressing, the idea was for local businesses who have worked with the OSSC to talk about there experiences & benefits, unfortunately Bowman Group’s Marketing & Sales Director couldn’t resist a captive audience and squandared the bulk of the time to tell us all about the group and what great windows they make.  Luckily their HR & IS manager was more direct & to the point, explaining that data lock-in, a lack of flexibility & rocketing costs helped them select SugarCRM as their CRM platform, helping them track there sales process and possibly even drive part of their manufacturing processes.

Next up was one of the owners of a local HR outsourcing firm, it was a similar story of meeting with Daniel and Daniel & his team helping them use SugarCRM to manage there growing list of prospects, customers, projects and related tasks.  The speaker put across her point well, explaining that even her as a non-technical user could see the benefits and use the software easily.

A brief wrap up from Daniel was followed by the usual attempt at a panel Q&A session, which failed miserable as they usually do in this part of the world.

What I’m looking forward to next is discovering what the next step is for the Open Source Solution Centre is, how do we in the Open Source community enagage with the OSSC and how do local businesses do the same.