Open Source vs. Closed Source Software – What’s the Difference?

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In the age of technology and automation, software is being used more and more in day-to-day tasks. No matter what type of uses the software has, there are two overarching types: closed source and open source. This article will take a look at the two different software, and compare them through the topics of development, support, flexibility, and cost.

First, let’s understand exactly what they are.

Closed source software is software that holds the source code safe and encrypted. Meaning, the user can’t copy, modify, or delete parts of the code without some type of consequence. It can go from voiding the warranty to even legal repercussions.

Open source software is software that does the complete opposite. It allows users to copy, modify, or delete parts of the code under their own discretion. The user is able to use functions of the open source on their own program with no consequence.

Which one works best? Choosing the best type of software depends on your business needs and objectives. The best way to compare is to look at some of the biggest differences between the two types.

Development:

Closed source software creators are the ones that generally handle the development and fixes, meaning it is under their discretion if they continue their ongoing development or not.

Open source development is handled through ‘mass collaboration’. As a result, development and fixes usually continue as long as the community is active.

In this, open source has the advantage. Closed source could end support of software at almost anytime, leaving you with whatever you have at that moment. Meanwhile, for open source software, if the community is fairly large and active, you can expect new updates, features, or fixes for a fairly long time.

Support:

Closed source software will usually have a dedicated FAQ, manuals, and options to contact someone. If there is a problem with the software, you can submit a ‘support ticket’ and get a response in one business day in most cases. All of these things will be organized and well documented as well.

On the other hand, for open source software, there are not many support options such as a dedicated and organized FAQ or contacting someone may not be available. Some of the only support options would be going through forums, reading articles, or hiring an expert.

Closed source has the advantage in support. Since a lot of the support costs have been factored into the price of the software (excluding special support types like 24/7 or personal expert). This allows for there to be a lot of different self help options such as FAQ, an organized user manual written by the developers, or an organized forum with experts. On the other hand, open source software usually doesn’t have this level of DIY support systems. Although, there might be third-party forums and explanations from the community, which could help.

Flexibility:

Closed source software tends to have only as much flexibility as the creators intended. The flexibility only extends to the front-end because the functions are limited to what was programmed. Changing these things could void the warranty or cause even greater problems.

Open source software tends to allow a lot more flexibility. You can modify the functions and even add community created modifications or features to suit your needs.

Depending on your need for flexibility either can be a viable option. Although, due to the increased flexibility open source offers with their option to change their code, it tends to scale up easier.

Cost:

This could be the biggest difference between the two types. There are a few different pricing models but the two that we’ll focus on are regular purchase and subscription services. Generally, closed source software tends to have some type of cost for the software. Closed source’s pricing model includes the right to use the software, whether it be as an upfront cost or subscription.

Open source, on the other hand, doesn’t have a cost associated with the core functionality. It can, however, have costs for additional features, assistance, or added functionality.

Based on these factors, both closed and open source are on equal grounds. Closed source has a high cost associated with the software, whereas open source has little to no cost associated with the software but has costs associated with additional features.

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Overall, if you want scalability, flexibility, and to cut costs as much as possible, open source is a great place to start your software journey. It can be difficult to choose a technology solution that best fits your wants and needs. Many organizations are turning to Liferay, a leading open source platform, to help them build a fully integrated intranet that connects their people and systems. For more information, feel free to reach out to us.

 

The Business Case for Liferay DXP

 

Should I consider an intranet for my business?

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In a constantly evolving and innovative digital world, you always want to be searching for the next best thing. If you want your business to gain a competitive edge and keep your employees engaged, an intranet may be for you. After all, a happy worker is a productive worker and that keeps your business moving forward.

Below is an infographic showing just some of the uses and benefits of an intranet for your business.

Intranet

If you like this infographic about benefits of an intranet let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ !

4 Key Takeaways as Financial Services Go Modular

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This post was authored by Martin Yan and originally appeared here on Liferay.com

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Since the late 90s, banks and other financial institutions have witnessed a steep decline in customer loyalty. With high fixed costs due to branches and personnel, the traditional options are no longer as appealing to consumers as they once were before.

The financial industry as a whole is becoming more modular, which means that in any major transaction, no single supplier will have sole ownership over a customer—clients will be able to pick and choose from multiple providers. Customers are taking advantage of digital technology to reduce costs of transactions while using mobile applications or platforms to achieve greater levels of familiarity and convenience. Already, some firms are having to make adjustments by settling for smaller roles in a customer’s purchasing journey.

So, what does this all mean for big banks, challenger start-ups and consumers? We offer 4 key takeaways for the financial sector.

1. Operating platforms must undergo transformation

Many large banks and insurers are operating with legacy systems that are costly and outdated. These old, inflexible processes will drive costs through ongoing maintenance and additional “add-ons,” ultimately proving to be unsustainable in the long run. Of course, some firms will attempt to outsource this work for standardized processes (e.g., loan payments processing), but the majority will be tasked with having to completely rebuild their internal systems from the ground up. The challenge is great, but there’s certainly great upside to this—everything from cost savings due to reduced IT maintenance costs to less operational risks moving forward. Either way, firms will need to find an answer for their platforms or risk becoming obsolete.

2. Organizational leadership needs to evolve, too

We’ve explored this point in other posts. A transformation doesn’t merely occur with a new product offering or IT implementation, as important as that is. But a real transformation involves a complete shift in business strategy, and it has to impact the organization from top to bottom, starting with the top executives. They’ll need to embrace a customer-centric mindset that puts a premium on customer experience over immediate ROI. This includes everything from rearranging teams and hiring the right talent, to rewiring business operations across the entire organization. It could also mean determining overall weaknesses and strengths, then seeking opportunities to invest, expand, and strategize with external partners to achieve greater revenues.

3. Modular markets won’t be immune to difficulty

Fintech start-ups and other challenger banks have been capitalizing on this movement, but the fact remains: big, traditional firms still hold an advantage. The barrier of entry for new entrants is high, especially when you consider having to deal with current regulatory compliance, existing customer bases, secure environments and proper distribution channels. The firms that are looking to stay one step ahead will need to manage their operations and invest in creative strategies that allow future flexibility. This could mean partnering with new capital and infrastructure suppliers, lowering overhead and operating costs, and discovering new ways to access more potential clients.

4. Customers are the clear-cut winners 

As the entire industry becomes modularized, it will also be more streamlined and accountable. Firms will become more transparent about their pricing, which will invite competition from both new entrants and old stalwarts. This means business will be driven towards those who simply offer the best overall product or service experience. With lower costs, faster operations, and better service in the horizon, consumers certainly stand to win the most.

Granted, it’s hard to predict just how much of an impact modular services will have on the financial sector. Factors such as consumer behavior, regulatory compliance and disruptive technology are key variables that must be considered.

But what’s for certain is that staying stagnant is no longer an option. Companies need to undergo a ground-up evaluation and reconstruction of their strategy, starting with their legacy systems and back office operations.

The industry is changing—the customers are no longer waiting.

What is the first step in a Website Design? The Customer comes first.

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So, you’ve decided that it is about time to change or re-brand your website. When redesigning your website, what comes to mind first? Do you start thinking about the content, what to showcase on the website, or do you start thinking of the layout and graphics? As tempting as those may sound, you’re ignoring one of the most important things – your customers. The most important step to a website design is understanding your target audience; how they want to use your website, and what they want to see. Or, as Steve Jobs put it, “you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.”

Everything starts with the customer. It is difficult to create a website for a customer that you don’t fully understand. Building a website before getting to know the needs of your target audience can lead to a mismatch of experience. Are you targeting avid smartphone users but don’t keep in mind the variety of smartphone screen resolutions? Is the website able to showcase your product or service’s value proposition in 8 seconds (which is the average human’s attention span)? These questions are asked when building out your product so using the same type of steps seems logical when creating a website for your audience to discover your product or service.

So, where do you start?

  1. Assess the target market: This is very important, and commonly overlooked. What is the demographic that you’re trying to reach? What are their habits when it comes to researching online? Take the time to research everything about your buyer by interviewing current customers, ideal customers, and even prospects that haven’t purchased your product or service. As Bill Gates once said, “your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”. Gathering this information will help to identify and understand who is visiting your site, what they are doing on your site, and what exactly they hope to accomplish from visiting your site. After all, if you don’t know what your customers want and need, then you won’t know how to give it to them. This will help you identify the main objective and goals of your website redesign. Fully understanding your customer gives each page of your website design a clear purpose and will guide every website decision that you make.
  2. Assess the competitors: What types of websites do your competitors have? Conducting a competitive analysis is an important part of a website design. This will give you a good idea of how to differentiate, how to beat them, or where you should focus your efforts. Understanding your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses is necessary to improving your competitive edge. It is also helpful to assess your competitors’ websites through the eyes of your target market. This will help you to build a strategy on how to effectively design your website with the objective of guiding your target audience through the buyer’s journey.
  3. Focus on implementing your customer’s wants and needs: This is where you start implementing the wants and needs of your target audience. After all, your best salesperson (your website) needs to be equipped to support your buyer’s journey. Take the data you have and use that to guide the design of your website. First, start with the needs. Things like mobile functionality and a responsive design were wants a decade ago, but now they are a universal need. This means that it should be a seamless experience throughout your website when it is used on different platforms. During the initial website creation, think about the goals, questions and concerns your buyers may have along the way.
  4. Build the website, test, launch, then repeat every so often. Creating a website isn’t a static process. While understanding the target audience is definitely the first step in a website design, you can’t just forget about them after your website is launched. After your website has launched, test it with your audience, and use visitor data to constantly improve and evolve your website with the customer journey.

Is Digital Transformation in your Organization’s Future?

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Digital transformation has become an overused phrase in the workplace. According to Forbes, digital transformation is the use of technologies to radically improve the performance or reach of an enterprise. 78% of respondents across a wide range of industries said that achieving digital transformation is a priority for them within the next 2 years (MIT Center for Digital Business). But, what does this mean and how can you leverage digital transformation to your organization’s advantage?

In business, digital transformation can involve changes to the foundational components of an organization; from its operating model to its digital infrastructure. A transformation program touches every function of a business; from marketing and sales to operations. The process of digital transformation can be expensive and risky. Generally speaking, businesses that go through this transformation are the ones that have failed to evolve and keep up with their industry, and as a result, are playing catch up.

For large organizations, digital transformation takes a significant amount of resources and time, a cross-functional set of business skills, and a strong understanding of customer and employee needs in regards to their digital experiences with your organization. Putting your organization through digital transformation can be a risky process, although, if done right, it can produce great benefits for your employees, clients, and organization.

Keep in mind that digital transformation is not for every organization. Organizations that continue to foster a culture of constant evolution and cross-functional collaboration are always transforming. Organizations that aren’t constantly evolving and adapting are generally the ones that need digital transformation to be able to compete with competitors in their industry.

Employee productivity

In recent years, there has been a heavier focus on digital initiatives in most (if not all) industries. Businesses are starting to see digital initiatives as a means to help better engage customers externally and employees internally. 58% of businesses surveyed now look to digital to help sell profitably and 56% of businesses assess the impact of digital in relation to customer experience (Accenture).

On an internal level, digital transformation has the potential to empower your workforce. Implementing the right digital tools can help ease the collaboration process across departments and geography within your organization. Done right, digital transformation can help integrate and streamline entire business processes. A streamlined process means fewer unnecessary emails, errors and delays since workflows are being assigned to the correct employees. Through features like role-based workflows, you are able to assign tasks to specific individuals, which in turn will reduce the amount of work that falls through the cracks. With the ability to add, edit, share and collaborate on essential data, your teams can resolve problems more quickly and in real-time, which in turn can help your organization not only meet, but exceed client needs.

For more information on elevating employee engagement by going digital, click here.

Customer experience

Being productive, and efficient internally is important for an organization because a good customer experience starts with your internal team. With well-functioning internal processes, your customer experience has a significantly better chance of being successful.

A study done by Forrester Consulting concluded that 63% of organizations planned to improve their online customer experiences this year. Digital transformation is a customer-driven business transformation initiative rather than a strictly technical challenge. Throughout the customer journey, customers will interact with your organization across more than one channel within their journey. It’s important to ensure that the customer experience across all of your channels is consistent and positive, especially on the digital front.

Increase in sales

Companies that have embraced digital transformation are 26% more profitable than their average industry competitors and enjoy a 12% higher market valuation (MIT Center for Digital Business). While sales are important, what is more important is gaining the knowledge of how those sales are made. In today’s digital age, most consumers will almost exclusively interact with and learn about organizations through digital channels. With a better understanding of your customers, an increase in productivity and an improved overall customer experience, your organization will not only become more profitable but will have also build a stronger brand. By having a positive, well rounded brand reputation, your organization is more likely to succeed in retaining clients and converting prospects, especially when they are deciding between you and a competitor.

Promotes a positive and forward-thinking company culture

According to PA Consulting, only 26% of people think their firm has the right mindset to survive and thrive in the digital age. Across the three dimensions of digital transformation – organization, operational process, and technology – businesses are making strides, but they are still struggling with traditional silos and lack of alignment (Accenture). Many firms are stuck offering an “average” digital experience, meaning that they have a limited understanding of what to do next, how to do it, and how to measure the success of each digital experience. Embracing technology and using it to improve your organization’s business processes and engagement rates can create a company culture that encourages creativity and innovation.

Through the process of digital transformation (although it is different for every organization), you are working towards improving the way you run your business, how your employees interact within the organization, and how your external communication channels can improve. The process of planning how your organization will go through digital transformation and enhance business processes can promote out-of-the-box and creative thinking. By taking the initiative to innovate and change big things within your company, you are cultivating an environment that is open to change and improvement. Creating a company culture where development and creativity is encouraged can promote a positive, innovative, and forward-thinking company culture that you can be proud of.

Not one person alone can make digital transformation happen. It requires a company-wide buy in, strong collaboration, and executive advocacy. The motivation can’t come solely from the C-suite. The brainstorming and input on the transformation process must come from all levels of an organization. Take a look at the image below, courtesy of Bobby Albert. 96% of problems are not known to top managers. This statistic speaks to the importance of ensuring every individual in your organization has a say in regards to modifying processes, making improvements, and how to go about your organizations’ digital transformation.

Digital Transformation Iceberg
Now is the time for organizations to re-examine their businesses processes before they are left too far behind in the digital age. In a time where digital is transforming how we do things, it is more important than ever to ensure that your organization is evolving and reacting to the changing digital times.

 

The Business Case for Liferay DXP

4 Ways Technology Can Help Increase Customer Engagement

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Technology isn’t just changing the day to day of many companies by giving them the tools to be more efficient, it is also changing the way that companies engage with the customer. Prior to the Internet, customer engagement was fairly limited to the traditional forms of advertising and interaction. It used to be safe to assume that a customer made a purchase due to a flyer they received, or a referral from a friend or family.

Now, the definition of customer engagement isn’t static. It’s consistently evolving with the company and consumer due to new trends, technologies, and techniques. The broadest definition would be the interaction between the consumer and business through any channel that the business is on. Thanks to the Internet and technology, consumers can and do interact and engage with companies from anywhere and at anytime, 24/7.

Great customer engagement is not something you can just buy; it is a competitive advantage that can only be earned through continuous improvement and evolution. However, technology is one tool that can help you get there. Here are 4 ways technology can help to increase customer engagement:

1. Technology can help make customer experience more personalized. The new era of technology allows for ‘personalized marketing’. Personalized marketing is advertising to a consumer based on what their interests are – which are collected thanks to Internet cookies and browsing history. Take Amazon for example; if you’ve been searching for headphones for the past 5 minutes, the “recommended for you” section would most likely include headphones. This worked out well for the online retailer as it was able to generate an additional 10% to 30% more revenue. This is not only beneficial for the businesses’ bottom line, but it increases customer engagement. Due to this engagement strategy, 44% of consumers in 2015 started their product searches on Amazon.

Technologies, such as Liferay, allow you to tailor your website to the needs and preferences of each individual with targeted information and segment identification, giving your visitors exactly what they’re looking for. You are able to get a full view of your customers and personalize their experiences from start to finish.

2. Technology can help you to simplify processes. New technologies that compact and simplify complex functions are developed everyday. Implementing these new types of technology, such as a new portal technology, can help to make transactions, searches, or processes more efficient. A great example of this is the new ‘mobile cheque deposit’ feature that mobile banking offers. Prior to the widespread use of this feature, a customer had to deposit the physical cheque at one of the bank’s branches. The mobile cheque deposit feature simplifies the process of physically going to the bank to deposit a cheque to just taking a picture of it, regardless of your distance to the bank. This enhancement in customer experience will also lead to more engagement. Why? The customer is happier that a simple task is convenient and takes significantly less time. These processes could be anything from an online purchase to an email. Another example would be Amazon’s “one-click purchase” This simple improvement increases their engagement by drastically reducing the steps needed to order something which in turn improves the experience and simplifies the process.

The Liferay Digital Experience Platform’s modern interface, built-in features and easy integration helps you create portals that let your customers complete their transactions, access documents and get information online. For example, York University recently implemented Liferay technology to create a Portal for its students. It was flexible enough to implement many features in a fairly simple user interface such as financial account information, personalized exam schedules, and university news. The full case study can be found here.

3. Technology provides you with data to improve the customer experience. Most technology can be monitored in some way through some metric, such as time. Using just the time metric, you can assess what processes take the longest time and improve accordingly. These metrics can be extended to data showing a visitor’s complete journey through the portal or website, or where an individual spends most of their time, which can then provide insight into how to personalize the experience or make it more efficient (relating back to #2). Overall, it can help you improve and evolve the experience to match the buyer journey.

As Steve Jobs once said, “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” The secret to customer engagement lies in the abilities to know your customers inside and out, predict their wants and needs, and build the entire customer experience around this information. With technologies such as Liferay, you can build a website that allows you to create and track highly targeted marketing campaigns that present the right message to your visitors at the right time, based on social profile, behaviour and browsing history. Taking advantage of this technology will help you to evolve and improve upon the customer experience based on the customer’s behaviour.

4. Technology can be a platform for you to help resolve customers’ problems, and provide convenience and control. Technology shouldn’t just be limited to assisting with the business’ day-to-day processes; it can be extended to help the business communicate with the customer. Recent statistics show that if you resolve a complaint in the customer’s favour, they’re 70% more likely to do business with you again. A online self-service portal keeps your customers engaged with your brand and website and allows you to manage customer relationships in a scalable way. Consider the facts below:

  • 91% of survey respondents said they would use an online knowledge base if it were available and tailored to their needs (zendesk)
  • 3 out of 4 consumers prefer to solve their customer service issue on their own (aspect)
  • 40% of consumers prefer self-service over human contact (The Self-Service Economy)

There is a noticeable shift in consumers’ behaviour, and thanks to this portal technology, you will be able to react. From Omnichannel support to tracking the customers journey throughout to ensure they don’t have to backtrack in support when switching channels.  Overall, self service portals can provide your customers service on their own terms, make online answers easy for customers to find, and provide Omnichannel support.

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Taking advantage of technology, in some of the ways mentioned above, can help lead to great customer engagement, loyalty and retention. If you need help sorting through the many technology options, in order to find the right fit for your business, feel free to contact us!