Why did Inventures launch the CollabForum?
Inventures launched the CollabForum exclusively to host, facilitate and address the growing demand for project-based collaborations that may not require a stand-alone alliance effort. The CollabForum enables cross-company, industry collaboration in compliance with anti-trust regulations, and with an agreed upon IPR Policy, with easy and quick entry and lower-costs. CollabForum projects can address many collaboration needs such as:
- Validating technology solution approaches
- Executing pilot projects
- Transferring assets and intellectual property from existing collaborations
- Facilitating interoperability testing/demonstration
- Creating specifications
- Developing reference implementations
What is the difference between projects and alliances?
Alliances and projects are both collaborations that can have many similarities but usually differ based most often on one or more factors such as goal/outcome, structure, and processes. Alliances typically form to work on standards that take longer to develop and change so they, and therefore, the alliance, is structured and developed to last for long(er) periods of time. Projects, on the other hand, can develop more quickly, are driven by contribution and meritocracy, ideally from an open and highly varied ecosystem, and can be less expensive.
The working styles of alliances and projects can be vastly different:
- Alliances typically work to define a solution to a relatively complex problem in a way that creates a permanent solution that helps to ensure integrity and interoperability. When the work is complete, alliances typically publish a document for the industry at large to absorb and adhere to when developing their products or services.
- Projects use socially connected tools that allow for co-opting, adapting, and republishing their work and the work of others, under licenses that generally allow for reuse, adaptation and productization of work on a royalty free basis without the need to negotiate terms with each contributor or contributing company.
Why form a project vs. an alliance?
Alliances are traditionally formed for the development of carefully considered and consensus-based standards within well-constructed, controlled and maintained organizations. Alliances typically follow an approach to harmonize sometimes competing pre-standard technical solutions to market needs that helps prevent overlap of work and fragmentation within the industry. Alliances allow insight into the entire system architecture so that solutions coming from multiple vendors are interoperable and backward compatible. Alliances provide a legal and business framework, typically as not-for-profit entities, that ensures fair practices in licensing, participation rights, publication processes and conflict resolution. Clearly, alliances remain a useful and valuable option and method for defining complex systems of reliable, interoperable networks and services.
However, more recently the maturation of the Internet as an application platform has increased the demands and competitive pressures to more rapidly innovate and adopt new technologies. This puts a premium on “code first” best suited for lighter-weight project-based collaborations.
Benefits and Advantages
What are the benefits of project-based collaborations?
Project-based collaborations offer the opportunity to increase business agility and to deliver and extend value creation beyond traditional organizational boundaries and are increasingly recognized as critical to innovation, broader business transformation, business sustainability and profitability. Projects can be used to open technologies up to outside contributions to create new possibilities for growth. Projects provide freedom to share openly, gain feedback, and accelerate development of scalable, efficient, and high quality software. Additionally, project-based collaborations can help companies to:
- Accelerate an open solution
- Share development costs
- Commoditize to reduce prices of non-strategic software components
- Drive demand by building an ecosystem
- Partner with others; engage customers; strengthen relationships with common goals
- Offer customers the ability to adapt code and be self-supporting
- Better and more quickly validate technology solution approaches
- Share and collect new ideas and gather diverse viewpoints and contributions to produce better code and better products
- Innovate faster and achieve quicker time to market
- Develop standards/specification reference implementations
- Facilitate multi-vendor interoperability testing/demonstration
- Execute pilot projects in targeted contexts
- Transfer Intellectual Property
- Recruit developers
- Expose dependencies which need to be managed and maintained
- Gain early mover market access
- Reduce the large and growing cost of maintenance and cost of change to provide and ensure ongoing economic sustainability
What are the advantages of using the CollabForum over other existing organizations that host project-based collaborations like the Linux Foundation, Eclipse Foundation and OASIS?
Significant cost savings is one of the key advantages of the Inventures CollabForum compared to other existing organizations that host project-based collaborations. Inventures has developed a very reasonable membership and project fee structure based on our unique company defining core capability to scale services. This reduces our costs which we are passing along to benefit the industry that greatly needs to both launch and maintain projects at lower costs. Additionally,
- Inventures’ time-tested and proven knowledgebase of best-practices expertise built on 25+ years of experience managing technology collaborations is being employed by the CollabForum for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
- The CollabForum did not start based on a specific technology platform (such as Linux) and therefore is completely technology agnostic and equally open to projects of many differing types such as IoT, cyber security, smart cities, cloud, consumer electronics, blockchain, healthcare tech, and more.
- The CollabForum was carefully formed from the ground-up with the legal structure to equally support both open-source and non-open-source projects.
- The CollabForum meets the needs of projects that want to use alternatives to certain open-source repositories or would like to specify more fully the open-source development environment.
- CollabForum projects that achieve a level of participation that warrants it to "spin-out" into an alliance will benefit from Inventures’ vast experience in launching such alliances.
- One unique capability of Inventures with its vast network of alliance clients and members is that as a new project is in the formation process, we will work closely with existing CollabForum projects, and look to see if there are other interested organizations, as possibilities to join efforts and/or leverage synergies.
Can any requirements be placed on who can/cannot join a project?
Just like most technology alliances or consortia, a project can place requirements as to who may participate in project. Examples of these requirements are for participants to be in a certain industry or market. Each project is able to define the requirements for participation, but those requirements are subject to approval by the CollabForum Board of Directors and must adhere to anti-competitive regulations.
Will the CollabForum provide funding for projects?
The CollabForum provides some funding for basic project infrastructure and support. For example, funding for a program manager is provided to support the Project Steering Committee and the Collaboration Portal that provides a document repository, email list server, and calendar tool for the project. Additionally, other communications infrastructure such as a web and audio conferencing tool is provided.
Can projects set their own governance structure?
Projects are governed by a Steering Committee selected from among its participants. Within the project, multiple workgroups can exist (up to the discretion of the Project) and each of those workgroups reports to the Project Steering Committee.
Technologies and Open Source
Are there any limits to the types of technologies and/or missions of projects?
One of the key benefits of the CollabForum is that it is completely technology agnostic and equally open to projects of many differing technologies and missions. That said, the CollabForum is primarily designed for, but not limited to, technology collaborations such as IoT, cyber security, smart cities, cloud, consumer electronics, blockchain, networking technologies, healthcare tech, etc., and the Board of the Directors is responsible for reviewing and approving proposals for all new projects.
How do I get a project started with CollabForum?
Joining the CollabForum is a simple process with a standard membership application, agreement, and low-cost, flat annual fee. There is also an option to join the board level, offering participants exposure to projects outside of their own companies and provides the opportunity to steer and govern the direction of the organization. Once companies belong to the CollabForum, then they may propose a new Project to the Board of Directors by drafting a Project Charter.
Will the CollabForum have face-to-face member meetings?
Initially, the annual member meeting will be conducted as a ‘virtual’ meeting. In the future, face-to-face member meetings may be offered. Project teams may choose to have as many face-to-face project and/or WG meetings as they deem necessary at their own discretion.
Services & Support
How can Inventures help with getting projects initiated and launched?
Before a project is launched, Inventures works closely with interested organizations and/or existing communities to work through project formation and hosting options such as:
- What is the project’s vision, mission and scope?
- What constitutes success and how will it be measured?
- What is the problem being solved?
- Will the project be able to attract participation from other companies, other projects, or individual developers in the industry?
- If, applicable, what code does the Community want to source?
- What are the project management options and financial requirements and fees?
- Is there enough external interest to form and grow a developer community?
In addition, Inventures helps manage all the essential tasks prior to launch, for example:
- Pre-briefing with all launch partners
- Ensure that all project infrastructure is running, secure, and scalable
- Ensure developers join and monitor communication channels (mailing lists, etc.)
What services will Inventures provide that are standard for all projects and what are extra?
The CollabForum standard services include:
- Business Operations, such as Financial Management, Global Headquarters, Membership Management, and Help Desk line and Web & IT Services
- Steering Committee program management support
- Unlimited use of the Collaboration Portal that provides a project/working group membership management and workspace(s), document repository, email list server, voting and calendar tool
- Conferencing tool (Zoom or equivalent)
Many additional services are available as required, optionally and by ala carte through Inventures including:
- Strategic Management Services
- Branding, Marketing, Communications and Public Relations
- Member Meeting, Tradeshow and Event Management
- User Community Support
- Membership Recruitment
- Certification Management Services
Must projects use the Inventures CollabForum services and tools?
Inventures understands that each project has its own unique needs and requirements and will work with each project to design a set of services and tools to meet their needs. That said, projects are free to pick and choose to use what, if any, CollabForum standard and/or optional services and tools that are made available to them. For example, Inventures can design, host, maintain, and support project websites or a project can decide to design and host their own website and would therefore be responsible for maintaining and supporting it.