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Between sales and technology

Haven’t been in a tech workshop with external sales persons for quite a while. Still confusing, from many perspectives. Short notes from scratch, not that sorted:

(1) There are a lot of great technologies that solve valid problems. Apparently, however, in on a business level many situations inviting an external entity to present a particular solution or approach and see how this fits certain internal use cases and issues seems way more obvious than thinking about actual use cases in the first place and talk to your internal business and tech experts first, figuring out which kind of solutions should be considered or thought about. On second thought, too, this is a good idea as these are the people you will have to convince, sooner or later.

(2) Every problem can be solved using more technology and complexity. This includes dealing with all the shortcomings of old applications, broken usability, stupid repetitive tasks and messy old code no one dares to touch anymore. Though this is a valid approach, there seems a massive risk in this. There’s still a valid point in “keeping things simple” and trying to minimize the amount of software to run. What will happen after we covered yesterdays complexity with todays complexity? Will we reach a point for this to collapse under its own weight because the foundation is flawed, after all (and no additional complexity is able to change or support that).

(3) From a FLOSS enthusiasts point of view, life is still difficult if you talk about enterprise software. Despite all new Linux desktop environments, you still all too often end up being told that the software “of course is deeply integrated with Microsoft” to be as easily accessible for the end users as somehow possible. Unfortunately, though, one has to admit that, talking about recent deployments of Windows 10 all along with Office 365, Teams and online integration, this stack has reached a point where, for FLOSS desktop toolings, it’s really hard to compete. There are some approaches but they are way less well integrated and way less to get started “easy-on”.

(4) If you’re on a reasonably high level, things obvious to technical people will start to look like witchcraft and the greatest-ever invention even while they’re actually just revamped and beautified versions of what’s been around for ages. All of a sudden, in example, something “we”‘ve been calling web scraping or screen scraping for ages might immediately come to new life under a new moniker and in a shiny new box. That said, however, sometimes it’s that box that matters, the box that makes arbitrary technology a “product”, the box that defines what’s inside and what’s outside and creates a certain agreement between a producer and a consumer on what (not) to expect.

Two real lessons learnt from that: We need to focus more on making FLOSS solutions a full-scale, enterprise-ready replacement. This is where we really could benefit these days as there still is hardly any competition in this market, and this is our biggest pain point at the moment – desktop FLOSS is still next to irrelevant if you’re talking “full stack” solutions (such as actual Linux clients). And, as “Libre” tech people, we really should consider thinking more along a product not technology understanding – at least if we want to get along within a certain kind of enterprise environment. Like it or not – these, at some point, still are (and possibly for some time will) relevant requirements people see when choosing a particular technology, and these are and have been requirements locking FLOSS solutions out for quite a while…