Adoption of Open Source Software for Enhancing Customer Satisfaction: A Case Study from Canadian Educational Sector

Article excerpt

This paper aims to examine the adoption of open source software (OSS) for enhancing customer satisfaction. A well known Canadian university adopted OSS for enhancing their services to the students which increased the level of satisfaction. In this paper we intend to use a case study approach to explore the adoption of OSS for increase in customer satisfaction. This paper would help to further enhance our understanding regarding the issues and challenges faced by organizations while adopting OSS. It would also illustrate the objectives of the organizations for OSS adoption for improving customer experience and engagement which ultimately leads to customer satisfaction. This paper describes issues, and challenges faced by organizations in adopting OSS and how this new technology can be efficiently used for increasing customer satisfaction. The other organizations in the service sector can adopt OSS to increase the customer's level of satisfaction. The targeted audiences are (i) the organizations in the service sector who are planning to adopt open source software to increase their customer satisfaction (ii) academic researchers examining the OSS adoption.

INTRODUCTION

The open source movement has brought a revolution in the development of software. Traditionally, proprietary software is developed by the in-house developers. The trend to outsource the software development to countries where skilled developers are available at inexpensive rate picked the momentum (Glass, 2004). The open source software (OSS) phenomenon over the last decade had a substantial impact not only on the software industry, but also on the service-intensive organizations. The software industry is moving towards service industry. The software developers are using the OSS development community for developing new software and growing core competency in providing services to its customers.

The OSS development process makes use of collaborative development model followed by OSS communities and hence the process introduced a new software development model. The presence of freely available software permits the organizations for faster adoption of software technology, increased product and service innovation, reduced cost of developing the systems, and reduced time-to-market (Bonaccorsi and Rossi, 2006; Morgan and Finnegan, 2007). Moreover, the OSS development process has an answer to the "software crisis" faced by the proprietary software developers as cost and time required for developing proprietary software is increasing (Feller and Fitzgerald, 2000). As a significant number of proprietary software projects fail because of increased developmental cost and time (Reel, 1999), the OSS development process seems to be the solutions to these problems. Though the OSS movement started with different objectives and not to find a solution to these problems faced by the software industry, the broad and widely spread developer base in OSS development reduces the required time and the cost significantly. The members of the OSS community are working at different time zones at different parts of the globe which makes the development process much faster. The OSS development cost can be reduced and high quality reliable software can be produced because of the strong peer review process. Open source community is also producing higher quality software at a low cost compared to the traditional proprietary software development approach (Haruvy et al., 2003). For instance, the cost of development of Linux would have been more than $1.0 billion if it had been developed as proprietary software (Wheeler, 2001). Besides, scalability and flexibility are the other main reasons for the popularity of the OSS (Leibovitch, 1999). The flexibility to modify the source code to perform a specific task is probably the biggest advantage associated with any OSS.

OSS is an alternate to the costly proprietary software providing superior quality in terms of features, reliability and security. …