Norbert Lambing is CEO and founder of grommunio. (Source: grommunio)
Groupware increases the efficiency of collaboration, but only open source unleashes the full potential of the tools: then they are open to customisation, grant real data sovereignty and enable innovation. Groupware pioneer grommunio explains why proprietary solutions almost always lose out.
What should groupware be able to do? Of course, to increase the productivity of teams. But if you take a closer look, you will realise that its obvious advantages conceal a completely different asset: it promotes innovation. Under certain circumstances.
The fast-paced digital economy is forcing companies to constantly innovate if they want to remain competitive. Nothing is more fatal than software that is supposed to support collaborative teams in finding ideas but ends up slowing them down. And so inflexible collaboration tools, usually closed proprietary systems, are actually a complete no-go for companies. Only open source can offer them real added value.
The Viennese groupware pioneer grommunio explains why open source is almost always far superior to proprietary solutions in a direct comparison.
1. customisability. Change is the need of the hour for companies and groupware, the basis of corporate communication, must be able to adapt smoothly at the same pace. This adaptability has many aspects: adaptation to growing IT perimeters – everyday life since the enthronement of mobile working, to changing and different tasks in the teams, to increasing demands on the user interface, to constantly new features, workflows and business processes. IT can hardly develop this number of regular requirements itself if APIs are only available to a limited extent and system code remains hidden – as is, by definition, the case with proprietary tools. Waiting for manufacturers to implement new functions at their discretion is also not an option: it can take years, if ever. In other words, proprietary tools do everything they can to actively slow down the dynamics of teams and companies. Unrestricted adaptability, on the other hand, requires the open code of open source solutions.
3. availability. The lifespan of software is a critical factor, especially when companies have invested heavily in it and teams have become familiar with its usability. The availability of proprietary software is unpredictable, because if providers go bankrupt, are taken over or withdraw products from the market, their customers are left out in the cold. They then have to search for new solutions involuntarily and under time pressure. However, the purchase alone does not solve the problem, as this is followed by a whole slew of tasks: Testing, implementation, data transfer, familiarisation, training. Subscription models don’t make things any better, of course. Open source, on the other hand, offers the security that users can continue to develop their groupware themselves, even if products are no longer available; this gives them a comfortable time cushion should they want to switch to new platforms after all.
4. costs. Licence fees or subscription costs for proprietary solutions are often horrendously high. Although open source groupware is generally free of charge, it still incurs expenses, for example for maintenance, servicing or further development. In return, however, it gains flexibility and adapts perfectly to the requirements of companies and users. All in all, open source groupware promises a significantly lower total cost of ownership than proprietary solutions: it often only accounts for a fraction of this.
“Many users have become accustomed to working with inflexible proprietary solutions and no longer realise how much this restricts their freedom and creativity,” emphasises Norbert Lambing, CEO and founder of grommunio. “On the other hand, many companies have entrusted their critical data to vendors who can neither guarantee them digital sovereignty nor sovereignty over their data. How can the managers of these companies sleep peacefully? However, if you want to be successful, you have to innovate together and develop brilliant ideas, and the only basis for this is ultra-flexible open source groupware with a guarantee of data sovereignty.”