OpenForum Europe : Open competitive choice for IT users

There is general consensus in both government and businesses that “Openness” is both pivotal and a positive. Few would seek voluntarily to be labeled ‘closed’ and inevitably ‘open’ can be tagged to a product or service by many companies seeking a little ‘magic dust’ in support of its marketing. But maybe with little attempt to justify and evidence their sought differentiation.

The definition “Open” is also a potentially critical dynamic in the competitive landscape of the ICT industry. As a result, there are various points of views, and conflicting definitions.

So how do we come to terms with what is ‘open’? How can openness be leveraged to support dynamic, responsive, and cost effective government and business? Is it now the time to seek consensus on the use of the term ‘open’ and how it can be used via a set of Principles applied in the context of key ICT areas such as in Standards, Cloud, (e)Government, Data and Procurement?


OpenForum Europe (OFE) is a not-for-profit industry organisation which was originally launched in 2002 to accelerate and broaden the use of Open Source Software (OSS) among businesses, consumers and governments. Our role has since evolved, devoting much of our time to explaining the merits of openness in computing to politicians and legislators across Europe, as part of a vision to facilitate open, competitive choice for IT users.

The OFE Openness Principles —


Openness is not a political statement, development method, or business model. Openness is a means to an end. It is essential that we do not lose sight of objectives including :

man131. Providing choice to consumers, including options (for example in terms of cost or accessibility) that eliminate digital exclusion. This is the principle of User Centricity.


position52. Providing a level playing field between producers, forcing them to compete on functionality and quality and ensuring constant innovation. This is the principle of Competition.


pose3. Enabling the construction of complex combinations of products and/or services from different providers where part of the combination can be upgraded or replaced when better products or services become available in the future. This is the principle of Flexibility.


curvearrow74. Enabling the construction of products, services and combinations thereof that are sustainable in terms of access to information, cost and impact on the environment. This is the principle of Sustainability.


network115. To meet these objectives, some coordination is needed: between providers and consumers to ensure user centricity or between providers to ensure flexibility. For this reason, openness often implies some form of community in which everyone can participate, where no single entity dominates the debate and where decisions are taken via a transparent process. This defines an additional principle: the (open) Community.

More About OFE

OFE is a registered interest group with the European Commission, and we work closely with the Commission, the European Parliament, national and local governments both directly and via its national partners.

In the United Kingdom we launched a formal OFE UK Chapter called COIS (Community for Open Interoperability Standards), firmly endorsing the UK Cabinet Office’s Open Standards Principles, and with the goal of allowing wider and easier interchange between community volunteers and supporters and the public sector.

We also established an independent programme, called OpenForum Academy, which has     created a link with academia in order to provide new input and insight into the key issues which impact the openness of the IT market.

OFE is supported by major IT suppliers, as well as a number of partners.Among OFE’s supporters there are major IT suppliers, including Google, IBM, Oracle, Red Hat and Deloitte. OFE has national partners from across Europe, representing many tens of thousands of SMEs. We also have a partnership with the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and have collaborated with the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) – two of the leading free and open source software campaign groups in Europe. OFE has also collaborated with the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS). Views expressed by OFE, however, do not necessarily reflect those held by all its partners and supporters.


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