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CIO Forum on open source

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I attended the Northwest Ohio CIO Forum on open source yesterday. I learned a lot about open source (vs. open standards, how various companies are treating it, and the common misconceptions about it), what CIOs care about (saving money, saving money and, um, saving money, and not very much about the "I" in their title nor creating value for the business), and met many interesting people. It was definitely the most-happenin' IT event in the Toledo area in several years.

Although "user experience" was only mentioned once, by Ron Eller, the overall themes that open source leads to choice and open standards allow companies to agree on the basics so that they can compete at a higher level, were prevalent.

Simple example: if you are locked into a certain vendor based on a word processor file format, you do not have much freedom to select a different vendor with a better experience for your users. If you have an open standard for file format, now you can pick your vendor based on more important needs, like quality of the word processor user interface. That vendor with the lock on the file format does not have very much incentive to improve the user experience because they already have your business. Finally, open source options that fit in with other software because of open standards let you mix-and-match the technologies, enabling you to create novel user experiences on your own, instead of waiting 5 years for a vendor to build it from scratch.