It would be comfortable to think that “open source software” can’t do what “real company software” can. But, that would be shortsighted, verging on bunk.
Open source solutions not only do what proprietary solutions do, they do things better for a laundry list of compelling reasons that are long as your arm. Let’s consider.
To start, open-source solutions aren’t burdened with the inflated costs of proprietary frameworks. This means that you can add things to your system as cost neutral features because open-source frameworks like WordPress are free.
It also means that you, as an open-source user, are part of a huge family of the best coders and innovators on the planet. My company, for example, rolls with WordPress. We are small, but we have 600,000 co-developers worldwide at our backs supplying widgets, plugins, and scripts that we would otherwise have to write ourselves at hefty costs to our clients.
As an open-source user, your solutions are always up-to-date and your investments are always secure. While other destination marketing organizations feel the familiar pain of doing ground-zero system upgrades every three to five years because expensive proprietary solutions become hopelessly stale and out-of-date, open-source users never fall behind because 600,000 coders update their system architectures every minute of every day. In fact, in the time it takes me to write this article, a dozen new plugins will appear in a WordPress open-source library that is already 25,000 objects strong.
There is also the issue of framework stability. This trumps all other reasons for using open-source over proprietary solutions. A framework is the glue that holds your solution together. I liken it to the little knobs and holes that keep Legos from falling apart. A proper framework is never obsolete or weak. It is a platform upon which objects can be added. One of the serious problems that most proprietary system owners have is that technology grows and each new solution needs to be duct-taped to their system in order to keep pace. At some point, the system that was so easy to operate and maintain when it was new, collapses into a Rube Goldberg contraption of objects that were never meant to work together. This framework obsolescence becomes a reoccurring nightmare. From the day the new proprietary system hits your office, it is on a steady slide that requires constant and costly cash infusions to keep it temporarily afloat. These capital infusions are not prudent investments. They are reluctant band-aids applied to stop the bleeding at the foundations of frameworks that failed to meet their ongoing expectations. Using open-source code and frameworks, obsolescence can’t happen. Every contribution to an open-source system unifies the whole in the same way that every new block unifies the Lego construction. Moreover, each Lego piece makes structures stronger. I don’t know if you’ve been to the Logo store at Rockefeller Center in New York. What you’ll find are dragons and dinosaurs made of millions of tiny blocks that wrap from room-to-room. That’s framework stability and strength against which no proprietary solution can compare.
Friends, there are some serious things at stake as destinations look for better, cheaper, and more agile systems. If the answers don’t keep pace with the questions posed in a technology climate that moves so rapidly that no one company can keep pace on its own, destination marketing organizations will get kicked to the curb of irrelevance no matter how strong their claim is to local knowledge curation.
George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.” Remembering is what the open-source is about. Do you remember Micromaps? They were the cock of the walk at DMAI for years until Google blew them out of the water with free maps and an open source API.