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Friday, August 10, 2012

Sibelius notation software: people plus code equals success

A little background on why I wrote an Open Letter to AVID about their plans for Sibelius software.

AVID had announced that they still fully supported Sibelius software, even though they were "letting go" of the staff in the UK that developed the code and has maintained a continuous and excellent dialogue with users (customers). In a second communication on their blog, titled "Dear Sibelius Community," AVID wanted to assuage criticism of their plans and reinforce their commitment to the software. Customers of the software, whose livelihoods depend on the excellent continued development of the software and the ongoing relationship with the developers, are very nervous the software that has enriched their creative work may lose its focus and excellence. Analysis and speculation by customers of the possible outcomes is widespread. 

I was particularly moved to write my previous blog entry (August 1) after reading the following comment written by John Murdoch  in response to the second communication referred to above, written by Martin Kloiber, VP, Product & Solutions, Audio, Avid Technology, Inc.

"… your balance sheet includes an entry for the value of the asset that is the source code to Sibelius 7 and related products. Your balance sheet does not reflect the value of the knowledge and memory of the software designers/developers who understand those lines of source code and all of the nuances of how they were developed. 

Want the bad news? Even though you count the source code as an asset, the real value is in the people. Lose them, and the source code is worthless. 

Don't believe me? Here's a list of software products that held overwhelmingly dominant market share: Ventura Publisher, WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3, Lotus Notes, dBase III, Paradox. What distinguishes them all? Each was acquired by a group of MBAs who bought the source code--but didn't keep the developers. And every single one of those products disappeared. (Call your colleagues at Corel--ask 'em how sales of Ventura Publisher and WordPerfect are doing.)

Not convinced? Try a thought experiment. Name a single significant software product where the original source code was handed over to a third-party out-sourcer to continue development that actually worked. 

Yeah. None."

Read the original post and comments here:

In my view, these concerns are expressed convincingly and AVID would do well to address the concerns raised.

John Oliver