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Iceland goes Open Source March 21, 2012

Posted by Mark Hillary in Current Affairs, Internet, IT Services, Software.
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The Open Source software movement has always suffered an image problem because people brought up to respect copyright and trademarks struggle to understand the concept of how intellectual property can be free.

Advocates of Open Source argue that free generally means freedom rather than free of cost – the software itself may be free, but users will always need to pay for installation, maintenance, upgrades and customisations. It is never entirely free.

Open source has long been in the mainstream for those who specify and design technology systems. WordPress is a free content management system – often used for blogs – and yet brands like CNN, Reuters, Sony, VW, and UPS use it as the basic framework for their websites.

But there are also Open Source operating systems and office tools – replacing the need for licensed products such as Microsoft Windows and Office… Excel and Word for example. These have not really taken off in the enterprise because everyone works using those formats – you want to use Word and be able to send a document to anyone else.

But if the Open Source tools can recognise those file formats and work in just the same way then perhaps the end is in sight for expensive licenses in the enterprise? The government of Iceland certainly thinks so. As a cost-cutting move they have just ordered all public bodies to ditch licensed products from companies like Microsoft and Oracle and to migrate to free solutions instead.

Iceland needs to save cash, but if an entire government can plan for a migration across all departments with just a one-year time frame for migration then just imagine what most companies could achieve too…

dancing  Auroras
  Photo by Álfheiður Magnúsdóttir licensed under Creative Commons

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Does multi-channel retail really deliver the goods? March 14, 2012

Posted by Mark Hillary in Current Affairs, IT Services.
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Call Centre Focus magazine recently published a survey of senior executives involved in retail with some interesting findings for those interested in how the multi-channel concept is changing retail.

A full 65 per cent of retailers believe their in-store experience defines their brand and over 50 per cent say it is the most profitable channel. Interestingly 70 per cent believe it delivers the highest level of customer service.

This shows some bias in favour of the high street store – better profits and better service, but the survey also showed that 98 per cent of retailers recognise that a broader multi-channel strategy is vital to remain competitive in the current market and 77 per cent of respondents stated their reason for pursuing a multi-channel strategy is to drive an increase in sales.

These are quite interesting statistics because they show an overwhelming support for the multi-channel concept as something that has to be done even though most of these executives see most of their branding, customer support, and profits coming from the traditional channels.

Over two-thirds of the survey respondents admit that their service levels are not consistent across all channels – so the experience with the brand will be very different depending on how the shopper engages.

Thomas Eggar is currently working on our own research in this area and we will be publishing our results soon, but based on the results of this other survey it would seem that retail executives are steering through uncharted waters.

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Photo by Graham Holliday licensed under Creative Commons