October 26, 2010
Regarding ‘EU to push patent-free eGovernment':
When discussing eGovernment and interoperability, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are often overlooked. The fact is that innovative SMEs such as mine play a role that is at least as important as any of the so-called ‘software giants’.
Effective eGovernment requires innovative, tailored and flexible solutions. European SMEs are well-placed to offer the most competent IT solutions – but for that we need an environment receptive to innovation which allows the best technology to compete on an equal basis.
For example, competing against Open Source solutions, and using our knowledge about the Microsoft Platform, we were able to cut the total cost of ownership of a Human Resources solution for a Spanish Regional Government to less than 20% of the total cost of the equivalent Open Source solution. At the same time, their payroll process improved from hours to minutes, without requiring any significant investment in hardware or software, due to better design and appropriate performance tuning.
We could have not achieved these results if we were constrained by an Open Source platform, and the customer would have not benefited from the improvements we were able to provide. The decision of this regional government to not limit their options to Open Source only has improved their processes and saved the money of their citizens.
Policies should not limit procurement options by excluding certain technologies and giving preferential access to open source. They should analyse which specific tools perform better in the most cost-effective manner – even more so in the current economic situation. Only then can we be ready to offer the best solutions on the market.
If the EIF includes a preference for open standards, many technologies will be excluded from participating in the procurement process, thus limiting competition and diminishing the opportunity for innovative and cost-effective solutions.
Fernando G. Guerrero