Throughout the years, open source software (OSS) revolutionized the software development field. Covering a range of software categories from operating systems to mobile OS, servers, databases and enterprise portal solutions, open source grew to become an essential component of everyday life and the modern workplace’s digital infrastructure.
Open source digital workplace solutions started to attract interest in recent years thanks to the number of benefits they provide for organizations.
In this blog post, we will discuss some of the main challenges faced by the public sector and how open source digital workplace solutions can be a good fit to tackle them.
Challenges faced by the public sector:
Governmental organizations and federal agencies often face more or less the same challenges as a typical business, namely a disconnected workforce, an aging intranet portal, employee disengagement and a subsequent decrease in productivity as it relates to using digital workplace tools. However, the difference from the private sector in this regard lies in the nature of the public organizations and the fact that they have to comply with regulations, policies, government recommendations and budget constraints applicable to the public sector.
Public organizations that perform critical operations often look for a digital workplace that can guarantee security and maximum transparency and control through open standards and direct access to the source code (i.e. open source software). This makes the solution safer than proprietary solutions in the sense where there is no hidden information and security vulnerabilities or backdoors and that officials are able to conduct things like security audits at the level of the source code. Things of this nature wouldn’t be possible with closed-source software.
Furthermore, employees within public organizations often have to use different applications and tools to perform their daily activities. These range from third party solutions to in-house-built ones. This can lead to a considerable amount of time switching between these tools and looking for the right information which can be troublesome at scale for organizations dealing with critical missions.
We cannot speak about the public sector without referring to budget spending. Public organizations typically have a predetermined budget that they need to stick to. When choosing a digital workplace solution, public organizations have to take into consideration the systems they already have in place and the different tools used internally. This way they can avoid purchasing expensive software and hardware that may not be compatible with their existing IT investments and which would add costs instead of help reduce it in the long run.
key benefits of open source software for the public sector:
Open source digital workplace solutions like eXo Platform have emerged as a result of the evolution and growing interest in open source. At eXo, we have quite a few public sector clients and they often share with us the reason for choosing eXo. Maximum transparency, flexibility, security compliance and eventually cost savings are the major reasons organizations in general and the public sector in particular tend to prefer an open source digital workplace instead of closed proprietary solutions.
The open source way also reflects the changing dynamics in the modern workplace and align well with digital transformation strategies in terms of control over the software, longer term vision of the organization and sustainability of its IT investments. The open collaboration and input from internal or external contributors to the software drive innovation which in turn helps in shaping a solution that effectively responds to various challenges.
These main benefits of open source for the public sector can therefore be summarized as follows:
Security is a main priority for the public sector as they often deal with critical information. Support open interoperability standards for maximum integration possibilities and access to the source code for transparency and independent security audits are two key benefits. They make OSS a nice proposition for the public sector in particular.
Public organizations need a solution that can integrate with legacy systems and their existing IT investments (i.e. third party software they acquired as well as software built in-house). Open standards, known and proven frameworks and open APIs enable the integration of the platform with existing tools. Acting like a holistic solution, an open source digital workplace platform allows easy and timely access to critical information from one place. This reduces the time spent by government workers looking for information and switching between different apps.
- Cost effective:
Open source software represents an attractive proposition for the public sector cost-wise. Being compatible with third party solutions and infrastructure systems can lead to cost savings as it prevents further investments in IT infrastructure.
- Control and avoid vendor lock-in:
Vendor lock-in is the dependency of an organization on one software provider which makes it difficult to control and integrate with other apps and costly to switch to another vendor. The adoption of open source software helps to avoid such lock-in. Unwanted upgrades, prices increases and additional purchases are minimized or eliminated in the long term. Open source digital workplace solutions are flexible enough to align with short as well as long term strategies. Freedom and compatibility with existing IT setups often make open source a safer solution for the public sector.
Whether a public sector chooses an open source or closed source digital workplace solution, one thing that is always important is digital transformation vision, good governance and successful adoption. Click here to see how eXo won the digital transformation award with one of its public sector clients, the French national guard, after a successful implementation of a wide-scale digital collaboration platform for law-enforcement agents.