Subject: Re: Order entry application user group
From: "Tim O'Reilly" <>
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 1999 15:55:41 -0800

The barriers to entry are in the data and in the business relationship
modelling, not in the code.  Having a data warehouse where you can
easily transform the data helps, but it's still non trivial.  For
example, there are business rules based on the weight of individual
cartons, and how they are shipped, that depend on who is receiving the
shipment.  There are so many variables that need to be supported, and
not all are generalizeable.  I've heard that some publishers have as
many as 64,000 different royalty schedules...  (Most of our complexities
are in the shipping and warehousing area.)

Brian Bartholomew wrote:
> Tim writes:
> > If I thought it likely that I'd be doing work for the benefit of
> > free-riding direct competitors, it might give me pause.  But in
> > fact, there are fairly high barriers to entry to implementing one of
> > these systems, such that someone will keep an inferior system for a
> > long time just because of the conversion costs.
> Are these barriers technically unavoidable, or do they come from the
> vendor being mediocre or deliberately obtuse?  If your new vendor did
> something outstandingly brilliant with the packaging or ease of use,
> could you become hesitant about sharing?  Could you structure the
> redistribution terms such that the new vendor can make the best
> product possible, and any barriers you need are provided solely by the
> terms?  If the direct competitors must pay to play in the pool, they
> are no longer free riders.  And the bigger customer base is likely to
> give you more money to evolve the software faster.  Order entry
> software no longer becomes a basis of competition, but you aren't
> actively penalized for sharing it, either.  Then my question becomes,
> 'how do you prevent the order entry software coop from degenerating
> into a for-profit self-justifying bureaucracy'?  But I suppose by this
> point civilization has moved forward one notch.  Ka-thunk!
> A member of the League for Programming Freedom (LPF)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Brian Bartholomew - - - Working Version, Cambridge, MA

Tim O'Reilly @ O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
101 Morris Street, Sebastopol, CA 95472
+1 707-829-0515, FAX +1 707-829-0104,