Si Chen

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Top Stories by Si Chen

In this part of our series on An Open Source Business, let’s take a look at our friends in the online music space and see what we can learn from them. The Deal recently had an article about online music startups which should strike a chord with anybody who’s thinking about or trying to make a business out of open source.  Look at what they had to say: “huge numbers, lots of hype, a surfeit of hope and a major chance of failure… some of the business models are inherently economically unfeasible… It’s completely unsettled and more and more fragmented…The rules of the industry and the economics of the industry have completely changed…Technological advances offer more and more delivery mechanisms, user options and wizardly new features…However, just who can make money off all this is almost as uncertain now as it was five years back…Everyone is gambling there will be a ... (more)

Should You Customize Open Source ERP?

When I first found out about open source software, I felt the sky was the limit — with the source code, I could do anything now! But after working on open source ERP for the last seven years, I’ve come to realize that customizing software, even open source software, should not be taken lightly. I recently spoke with Phil Simon, long-time enterprise software veteran and author of The Next Wave of Technologies and Why New Systems Fail, and asked him for his thoughts on when you should customize open source software such as ERP and CRM. Here’s what he had to say: Customizations and... (more)

A Brief History of CRM

This is actually pretty cool: a timeline history of CRM, from Software Advice.  From the early days of the PC: To our much heralded (hyped?) social web 2.0 future: It’s fun to trace the history of technology and Customer Relationship Management applications: Early 1980’s: Personal Computers -> ACT!, desktop single user sales automation software, 1986 Late 1980’s: Client/Server -> Siebel, multi-user CRM, 1993 1995: Netscape and the Internet -> Salesforce.com, web-based CRM, 1999 2010: Web 2.0 and Cloud Computing -> ? What, indeed, will the future bring?  Even bigger changes. If y... (more)

Android vs iPhone: A User-Happiness War

A recent GigaOM post about iPhone’s momentum vs Android was interesting, because it suggests that the Laws of Software may have been overturned. Since the early days of the PC, the software industry has operated according to a pattern described in Michael Cusumano’s classic The Business of Software: The successful software companies are the ones which gathered the largest number of users.  The best practitioners were Microsoft and, later, Google.  Both followed similar strategies: lower costs, add distribution partners, add users, and branch into related products. Apple was the o... (more)

Mail Merge in Google Apps, Javascript, and Open Source

I followed this tutorial on how to do mail merge in Google Apps, and it taught me a lot about Javascript and the future for open source applications. Doing mail merge in Google Apps was a lot of fun!  With a little copy and paste and about 15 minutes, I had was sending emails attached with customized letters as PDF’s.  Could programming always be this easy? I think so: Javascript is easy, fast, and flexible.  It’s great for implementing single-task automations.  It’s great for copy-paste-customize development.  If we can provide Javascript developers with a domain-friendly API th... (more)