A serious shift in how people choose the best small business software for their company is occurring; what people want and expect from software is changing and the effects of this movement can be seen in the news on a regular basis. Many governments, schools, and other public institutions have switched over to a type of software described as open source to cut costs. Open source means that the software is free to use, distribute, and modify however you see fit; the catch is that if you do change it, you must make your code available for everyone.
The writers of open source software have a different philosophy regarding what we should be able to with our computers, and what it should cost us. People all over the world, mostly in their free time, organize and collaborate on software projects that anyone who can lend a hand can become a part of. There is complete transparency in regards to how the software operates because its internal mechanics are on display for all to see. This benefits the small business owner in many ways, some of which we are going to discuss. The first and most obvious benefit is that of the huge amounts of money you’ll save on licensing fees. I think this is self-explanatory and needs no elaboration. Really, one could end the argument there and likely still convince the average person that the best small business software is open source, simply due to the fact that it’s free! There exist numerous other benefits as well, though.
When what is called the “source code” of open source software is able to be freely examined, you will find that the software is never malicious or ridden with spyware/malware as is the case with many trial commercial products; the program will never do anything you don’t explicitly tell it to. You are in complete control over your computer. An example of the infinite adaptability of open source can be described as follows. Say you’ve just found this wonderful piece of software that you’re ready to roll out company wide so that everyone can take advantage of it, but there’s one little detail that you wish had been attended to. Maybe there’s a certain functionality that you would like to see which would be very useful to you. Unlike closed source software where you just have to take what you get, with an open source program the potential exists to tailor it to your specific needs with the help of someone who is able to program. This is an impossibility with commercial software.
There are, of course, some obstacles to converting from a commercial to non commercial software environment. Most people are unfamiliar with Linux and other open source operating systems, and this means that your business members will have to be trained to use the new software which can be costly and time consuming, but it’s a one time thing. The cash you save from making this investment far outweighs the energy required to undertake it. The system will pay for itself very quickly and the community that surrounds it is growing exponentially. There is no doubt that now and in the future, open source will be the place people look for the best small business software, and will only become more prevalent as time goes on. You will soon find after conversion that the flexibility and expandability afforded to you by such a setup far surpasses the environment you were accustomed to operating in.