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Notes From the Floor; Day 1, The Customer Rules

Aug 04, 2004, 05:00 (6 Talkback[s])


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Let me get one thing straight--I am a cubby holer. This comes from the the fact that I like to organize as a writer, I used to work in a library in high school, and I am just plain judgemental.

So, when I get into a show like this one, I try to sum it up in one sentence or so. You know, a theme. This show was particularly tough to define. I saw a lot of things while judging the open source awards, most of it demonstrations and sales pitches. But one thing kept coming up more and more in my meetings today: the customer is always right.

In case after case, companies were telling me that they were making their product decisions more and more about what their customers want.

Now, I understand that this is what companies always say. But, in this case, this is really happening. This isn't the old "here is what we think the customers will want" line. This is the "customers have told us what they want, and we are repsonding."

This responsive nature was prolific on the floor. Is this a post-recovery form of gathering new/old customers? Maybe. But I would like to think that the methodology of open source is starting to rub off on these businesses.

This makes some sense, in a not-too-Pollyannish way. If you use open source software, or develop it, after a while I think you can make the argument that these executives are actually going to start seeing the advantage of openness in all aspects of their business. Thus, the higher level of responsiveness I have seen.

Don't believe me? Think about Ingres. Or Open-Xchange. Or Cloudscape.

Speaking of Cloudscape, I met with Scott Handy from IBM to speak about this latest release of open source-ness. The interview went well, but when it was over the door of the little room we were in woulkd not open. I was thinking about hoarding the little bowl of candy in the room when they finally got it open.

I also managed to see the briefing book on of the companies has about me before our interview. It was very bland. I need some sort of personality quirk--beyond working on this site. Suggestions welcome.

Coolest thing I saw today: a Linux pre-loaded HP notebook. Runs SUSE 9.1, has wireless, Bluetooth, and FireWire support, and plays DVDs with a commercially-licensed copy of LinDVD. Happy day!

More tomorrow.