Open Source Open for Business

Summary

Open Source Open for Business–written by Bill Brigge, Stefan Kircher, and Michael Bechtel–is about how large companies interact with open source software (OSS). Specifically, this article is about the current benefits and future potential of companies using OSS in business. The piece focuses on the advantages OSS offers and some of the untapped advantages OSS can provide companies. Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (Deloitte for short) sponsored the article, and The Wall Street Journal published the article.

I read this article because I am co-oping at Deloitte’s 30 Rockefeller Head Quarters this summer. I thought reading this would be a great way to learn about open source at Deloitte. 

Why should you read this article?

This article offers insight as to where large companies are spending money. For example, Deloitte and Datawheel created a joint research effort called Open Source Compass, and the article includes statistics from the research they conducted. 

Another benefit of this article is that it examines ideas rarely discussed in open source communities (OSC). Specifically, the authors note how contributing to OSCs can increase productivity, growth, knowledge, and security. However, this is weird because many older companies–particularly those involved with finance and legal work–focus on profits and secrecy. Since profits drive the economy, it is interesting that a large company like Deloitte would endorse and contribute to OSCs. In addition, the authors describe how OSS is beneficial for auditing because all the code is publicly available.

Lastly, Deloitte acknowledges that participating in OSCs provides junior developers with opportunities to “read code written by more experienced codes and highly creative pioneers.” Although universities and OSCs acknowledge this benefit, it is rare to see large companies recommending OSS for junior developers to gain experience. Again, this is surprising because older private companies tend to favor proprietary software.

Critiques

The authors mention companies contributing to OSS, but exclude examples of companies contributing. The authors state that “for technology capabilities at the core of strategic differentiation, a healthy reluctance to depend on–let alone share expertise with–anyone outside the organization’s direct control is in order.” Although that notion makes sense, it conveys that a company’s “core of strategic differentiation” consists of all internally developed software. In other words, all internally developed code gives companies a competitive edge, and therefore, should not be shared.

Questions

  1. Why do the authors claim that it is beneficial for companies to contribute to OSS without providing any examples?
  2. Does Deloitte contribute to the OSS they use? If so, how? 

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