Pivoting from A Traditional, Proprietary Software to Open Source Go-to-Market

Publicly-traded BI and performance management application company looking to monetize investment in an open source distribution they created but did not control.


  • Reporting
  • Open Source | Business Intelligence
  • Java Developers
  • Eclipse IDE
Open Source marketing consultant
  • Incubate an open source go-to-market strategy in a separate business unit and then integrate into all sales and marketing functions
  • Find effective way to monetize users of BIRT, an open source reporting technology distributed through the Eclipse Foundation IDE
  • Transfer first half of sales cycle online and significantly reduce sales and marketing costs
  • Accomplish pivot while not jeopardizing the market value of this publicly traded company
  • No company branding was in open source reporting technology distribution
  • Company did not receive any contact information for the 33 million downloads of the open source distribution
  • Users of the open source distribution were Java developers, intrinsically averse to traditional sales and marketing techniques
  • Created technical content-rich community site, BIRT Exchange, optimized for search engines
  • Assured that any user of the open source distribution searching for technical help online would find the community site
  • Had technical evangelists monitor the site activity and engage with visitors to establish credibility and understand their needs
  • Branded all marketing efforts as the community site for users of the open source distribution not the company
  • Attended conferences and events where Java and Eclipse developers congregated and promoted community site
  • Evangelists needed to establish credibility with the site visitors first before discussing commercial products
  • User needs for scheduling, service and scalability were indicators that enterprise sale could occur
  • Had to sell the value-add on top of the open source, not the deficiencies of the open source
  • Rebranded company as Open Source BI from proprietary software vendor
  • Collaborated cross-functionally to craft key product marketing messages and materials, and redesign corporate and community web sites
  • Instituted metrics and related processes that tracked ‘first touch” entry points for prospects, the path they took from initial lead to sale and leading indicators of new model success
  • Conducted worldwide sales training programs to align sales with new products, messages and value-add open source selling methods
  • Grew license revenue 50% year-over-year based on open source BIRT (Business Intelligence Reporting Tools) product line, concentrating marketing efforts around online-based sales initiation and inside sales
  • Reduced the cost of sales and marketing by improving lead-generation programs, ensuring that 50% of all leads, new opportunities, and sales transactions began with the open source BIRT offering or self-service evaluation process
  • Fostered active, high-volume user community and website; attracting 30K+ registered users, 38K monthly visitors, 3K quarterly forum posts, and multiple-thousands of product downloads in short three year time span
  • Established Actuate as the #1 leader in Forrester Research’s first Open Source BI Wave Report

Related Works