2010 has globally been a challenging year for BeezNest. With the simultaneous launch of Chamilo, leaving D0k€os and having to deal with the aftermaths of the financial crisis, there was probably no worst set of conditions to be thought of for our development.
Of course, this lead us to reduce staff (with voluntary departures and friendly agreements) and to focus on profitable operations, but we somehow managed to sustain a light growth.
The Belgian headquarters reduced staff by half (with voluntary departures and friendly agreements) and was busy putting the final point to several projects started in late 2009. The split from D0k€os also triggered (most expected) drops in sales, as we had worked for years promoting our services and were back to the starting blocks with Chamilo. Sales dropped 50% while profits only 20%. Many customers took their time validating our developments, which put us in considerable cash flow challenges. By the end of the year, the situation improved and we hired a new marketing manager, who’s produced a tremendous work at promoting our services (mostly around Chamilo).
The Latin American branch had to lay off about 70% of its staff around April, which has been an amazingly sanitizing operation for the company, as it registered a 20% increase in both sales and profit over 2009, with only 30% of the original staff. A recent move of offices of BeezNest Latino will also considerably reduce fixed costs all over 2011. Due to the split from D0k€os, BeezNest Latino, previously named D0keos Latinoamérica, had to change name to avoid confusion and under the pressure of the trademark holder. This had a considerable influence on new sales development.
Demand for services around Chamilo has been in regular growth in 2010 and the beginning of 2011, registering sales for more than 20,000€ over the last two months of 2010. Also, we observed a shift in interest from simple installation of Chamilo to more complex integrations with human resources, financial and marketing systems (with an internal marketing campaign at Samsung confirmed during the last days of 2010), as well as light courses building.
Corporate content management systems
BeezNest does not particularly like the term “website development” to describe its activity around corporate content management systems, but it is probably the easiest term to coin it. Through 2010, we have made considerable improvements in organization and development of both corporate, multi-tiered and interactive/social marketing campaign websites and are happy to report that BeezNest Latino is now providing two of the major advertisement companies in Peru in web development services.
The system administration branch is the one in charge of guaranteeing the response time and effectiveness of networks and systems. This year, our system administration sector has been serving corporate customers all over Europe (between others to the European Commission), as well as installing redundant web server systems for customers in Peru.
BeezNest has a very high expectation of its team to proactively contribute to FLOSS and show initiative in terms of social responsibility. Throughout 2010, and while the financial crisis aftermaths made it more important and more difficult still, we continued to provide substantial efforts to promote, develop and support FLOSS initiative that we know have the right impact on the society as a whole.
The Chamilo Project
As the Chamilo project required massive investments to get launched, BeezNest has been present all along, organizing meetings, participating actively in the Chamilo Association registration and launch process. We are now happy to report that the Chamilo project finally got strong bases, with a full membership contribution and registration process, including an online exam to become official Chamilo provider. It also developed considerable documentation resources. Also, we have been encouraging contributions, which resulted in effective members contributions late in the year (code, bug reports, documentation and features suggestions). Finally, an official Spanish-based teachers exam is in preparation for 2011.
The OLPC project
The One Laptop Per Child project has been one of the most symbolic (although not as active as it could have been) projects for BeezNest in 2010, with the active testing of Chamilo for compatibility with the XO device and analysis to develop a special embedded version of Chamilo.
We have been constantly supporting the local Drupal community (as well as occasionally the Chamilo, Suse, Python and general FLOSS communities) throughout 2011 by hosting their meetings (of up to 50 people) and contributing to their communication channels. Evaluating the costs of hosting the events, that BeezNest had previously refused to detail, we have realized we were spending in excess of $600/month (quite an investment for the Peruvian branch) only to ensure a pleasant infrastructure/environment for free events. Although this was not really a problem in non-crisis-affected years, we have decided to look for other offices, which will still allow us to host events of up to 25 people, a bit less frequently.
Alliances and partnerships
2010 has been a great time to forge new alliances. We are happy to report active collaborations with universities and companies in Brasil (Universidad de Tocantins), Colombia (Universidad de Cali), the UK, France (Académie d’Aix-Marseilles), Spain (Contidos Dixitais and Nosolored), Germany (Mira Consulting), Belgium (CBlue and the Chamilo Association), Panama (Latinux) and Chile (Universidad Autonoma). In particular, an alliance with Latinux will help us develop a wide-scale official exam for Chamilo 1.8 in 2011 in Latin America. If successful, this last initiative could prove to be a major income and work generator for the next few years.
What the future holds
With 2010 past and a renowned interest in e-learning and top IT skills in late 2010 and early 2011, we expect 2011 to boost income for both the European and American branch by at least 50%, with a high possibility that the activity of our marketing manager in Europe triggering an increase of 110% for this branch, only for e-learning.
Drupal developments have become a regular demand, and the Latin American branch will get to specialize more, with early adoption of- and contributions to Drupal 7 and modules.
Business and project management will be concentrated in Europe, improving the profitability of our operations. The office move in Latin America will also improve profit and cash flow, which we expect will give birth to wealthy investments in own development, infrastructure and technologies.
BeezNest will also be looking for development and research funds in order to finance its most promising developments. We have several great projects in mind which, given financial support, could develop into worldwide popular systems.