Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Death of Mission-based Software Developers?

Groundspring's announcement that they are getting out of the software development business marks a sad day nonprofit technology. Combined with the recent firing of Microedge's CEO, there are some interesting cracks appearing in the proprietary commercial model of nonprofit technology. Lucy Bernholz makes a great observation:

"Looking over the landscape of markets, vendors and products, I can tell you what I think will happen next. And it won't involve the customers (read: foundations, nonprofits, donors) getting what they want or need UNLESS they act faster than they've ever acted, in ways they haven't before, and with an eye to the motivations of market forces that are virtually foreign to them."

She's still stuck in the paradigm of proprietary commercial software vendors, but she well articulates the need for mission-based software developers to serve the desires and needs of nonprofits. The commercial world hasn't and probably won't be able to meet those needs.

We think the future is a network of commercial and nonprofit entities that drive an open source community that develops software. We think nonprofits need to:

  1. Act faster than they have ever acted before in adopting alien technologies and business models (open source).
  2. Act in ways they have yet to understand (partners in open source communities that develop software).
  3. Keep an eye on market and social forces that are foreign to them (open source ecosystems).
It's a radical thought, but one with significant potential to meet nonprofit technology needs in an affordable, ubiquitous, effective,and understandable (to nonprofits) way.

No comments: