Reorient your business, strengthen customer relationships, reduce costs, and supercharge your IT

by Charles Groce, CEO of Pearl Street Consulting

OpenSourceOpen source technology is changing the business landscape in every industry. For business leaders, recognizing which technologies are emerging standards and which technologies will only slow your business down will become a critical market differentiator in the very near future.

What is open source technology? I like to think of open source technology like an automobile. If you want to work on your car, you’re free to do so. Pop-open the hood and fix a problem yourself. Make the car yours by installing a new stereo, better tires. Change your own oil and save a few bucks.

Closed source technology, in contrast, is like an automobile in which the hood is locked. Popping the hood on your own violates your warranty. If you want access to what’s under the hood, you have to drive down to the dealership and pay them for the key. Sound ridiculous? That’s exactly what closed-source software does.

This doesn’t mean closed source technology doesn’t play a important role in your IT arsenal! Quite the contrary, closed source, highly specialized systems often serve mission critical functions. The key is integration between key closed source and open source systems, and filling in the gaps with open source software where closed source systems come up short.

Open source software is often community maintained, and supported by hundreds or even thousands of developers. Developers profit from supporting these systems by offering premium plugins, or contribute simply for the added credentials of having contributed to a successful open source project.

Most importantly to business leaders, open source software is often free to install and deploy onto any network. IT staff can tweak the systems as they see fit. Businesses can even resell open source software solutions, as long as they abide by the spirit of open source embodied in open source licensing. This licensing model orients the entire open source software industry to providing Software as a Service solutions, or SaaS, and it ensures a very rapid production cycle. Many open source software solutions have new releases every day.

You’d be amazed by the breadth of problems solved today by open source software, and the list keeps growing with every year. Technology solutions that only the big boys of industry could provide, like digital storefronts, are now solved with completely free, open source eCommerce solutions that are built from the ground up for customization. Companies used to have to pay web hosting providers on a per-page basis for edits that anyone who can use a computer can do now with do-it-yourself web publishing platforms.

And  the  same  goes  for  other,  more  cutting  edge  technology solutions.  Take cloud-based file storage.  Think only Google and Dropbox  can  offer  that  kind  of  solution?   Think  again.   There are  very  sophisticated  free  and  open  source  cloud-based  file exchange platforms.  Some of them even come with their own mobile apps for Android or iPhone, which you can brand with your company logo, and tie in to your information systems.

What  about  Customer  Relationship  Management  (CRM)?   The open  source  community  has  solved  this  problem  too  and because you can integrate an open source CRM with virtually any system out there, including your management information system (MIS) or your scheduling system, these solutions are in many respects vastly superior to what’s available on the proprietary market.

Furthermore, if you think CRM is really just a spreadsheet of company-wide contact data, think again. Open source has evolved the concept into a highly flexible workflow automation solution, complete with integration with email servers and a powerful  scheduling  engine  for  rules-based  task  assignment and reminders.  This allows businesses to automate processes today that used to require managers to oversee, such as adherence to  compliance  standards  like  those  required  for  FSC  paper certification.

And the list goes on and on.

Even the major players of the technology industry like Microsoft and Apple are watching with a certain amount of horror as Google open-sources its way through the mobile operating system market. In 2009, Android powered 2.8% of the mobile market globally. By 2012, Android powered 75% of the mobile market.  Today it’s even higher.

Why is this good for Google? Because they can add on premium services, like enterprise-level Google Maps for mobile  developers, and charge for them. They’re not just players in the mobile market, they are the market.

It’s good for consumers because mobile phones that are powered by Android don’t have the added cost of the operating system, which brings the overall price of the device down.  This is why Android phones are so much cheaper.

One common criticism of open source is that solutions are not mature enough or stable enough to provide companies with reliable solutions.  Open source projects are portrayed as amateur projects.

Google disagrees. Even Microsoft is starting to disagree, although in terms of the mobile operating system market it’s too little too late.

Open  source  is  here  to  stay. Companies that understand these vital lessons will be the companies that differentiate themselves in the market. Companies that utilize open source solutions to satisfy customer needs can offer lower pricing,  just  like  Google  does,  passing savings on to their customers, and undercutting the competition. Companies that adopt open source technology internally enjoy the  efficiencies  that  arise  from  community-maintained, continuously developed solutions.

Health Insurance

Health Insurance

BCBSM has individual health insurance plans available to PIM members. Association Benefits Company, an authorized independent agency with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, is here to help you take care of your families and your employees. Call them today to discuss the individual and group options available to you. They work with all agents!

Description for Individual Coverage:

Introducing MyBlueSM– Individual Coverage direct with BCBSM

Printing Industries of Michigan now offers new BCBSM health care plans for individuals and families at all stages of life. Whether you’re single, a recent college graduate, self-employed, starting a family, or considering early retirement, BCBSM has a plan to meet your needs and budget. Click here for eligibility, review plan options and to enroll on line!

Description for Group Coverage:

Employers providing health insurance for employees

Printing Industries of Michigan now offers new BCBSM health care plans for individuals and families at all stages of life. Whether you’re single, a recent college graduate, self-employed, starting a family, or considering early retirement, BCBSM has a plan to meet your needs and budget. Click here to get started with our BCBSM/BCN Administrator!

Fee Schedule

Fees schedule for PIM Active Membership

Annual sales volume Monthly Membership Dues
Under $100,000 $25
$100,001 – $200,000 $25
$200,001 – $250,000 $25
$250,001 – $300,000 $25
$300,001 – $350,000 $30
$350,001 – $400,000 $35
$400,001 – $450,000 $40
$450,001 – $500,000 $45
$500,001 – $550,000 $50
$550,001 – $600,000 $55
$600,001 – $650,000 $60
$650,001 – $700,000 $65
$700,001 – $750,000 $70
$750,001 – $800,000 $75
$800,001 – $850,000 $80
$850,001 – $900,000 $85
$900,001 – $950,000 $90
$950,001 – $1,000,000 $95
$1,000,001 – $1,500,000 $105
$1,500,001 – $2,000,000 $115
$2,000,001 – $2,500,000 $125
$2,500,001 – $3,000,000 $135
$3,000,001 – $3,500,000 $145
$3,500,001 – $4,000,000 $160
$4,000,001 – $5,000,000 $185
$5,000,001 – $6,000,000 $195
$6,000,001 – $7,000,000 $210
$7,000,001 – $8,000,000 $230
$8,000,001 – $9,000,000 $260
$9,000,001 – $10,000,000 $280
$10,000,001 – $11,000,000 $300
$11,000,001 – $13,000,000 $315
$13,000,001 – $15,000,000 $340
$15,000,001 – $17,000,000 $365
$17,000,001 and over $390
Join the PIM

Become a Member

Become an Associate

Request Info About Our Benefits

Name (required)

Email (required)

Telephone (required)

Company Name (required)

Are there specific member benefits about which you'd like to hear more?

Contact PIM

Name (required)

Email (required)

Phone (required)