Open Source: the secret sauce to business success

Image credit: Shutterstock/ Imilian (Image credit: Image credit: Shutterstock/ Imilian)
About the author

Kai Hilton-Jones is the Director of Enterprise Solutions Engineering EMEA at GitHub.

Software is at the heart of the digital revolution and, ultimately, it is what determines the success, agility and competitiveness of businesses looking to succeed in today’s fast paced, digital world.

Open source is changing the way organisations build software, offering a strong and critical foundation for digital transformation, while bringing teams and departments together.  As the approach to in-house software development evolves, organisations understand that their success is determined by the way they participate in Open Source Software (OSS). This offers a realm of opportunities that do not just benefit the IT department, but the business at large.

Open Source, open mind

On OSS platforms, multiple individuals with diverse skill sets work together on software development projects. Sometimes thousands of people, from multiple geographies with diverse backgrounds, share ideas and best practice. Bringing together this wide range of ideas and skill sets is critical to driving innovation. Also, it's the businesses that actively contribute to OSS, as well as consume it, that attract the best developer talent and are the most innovative.

One other benefit of OSS is the ability to reuse code. Most businesses contribute back to the open source community, making their source code available for others to use. Some of the world's leading digital businesses such as Facebook and Google  are contributing, enabling any organisation to ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’ by building on leading edge software projects developed by the best. The ability to reuse code also boosts the quality and velocity of software development.

Image credit: Pixabay

Image credit: Pixabay (Image credit: Pixabay)

Innovation through collaboration

The culture of collaboration embodied by DevOps has been evident for many years within the OSS community. Enterprises have now realised the value open source brings to the business and understand that the same culture and working methodology that drives innovation at speed in the open source community, also contribute to faster innovation inside the organisation. As a result, more and more forward looking businesses have adopted these same best practices to build software behind the safety of their firewall. An approach commonly known as “innersource.”

This is so successful that businesses including PayPal, Bloomberg and Walmart are adopting recognised open source best practices within their organisation to transform the way they develop software for their teams and their customers.

This way of working allows teams to break down departmental barriers, reduce silos and work towards the shared goal of enabling business priorities. This is an approach that other departments beyond IT can learn from in an age of digital innovation, making open source an influential and integral component to innovative business thinking. 

Recognising results

Open source does not just represent a new way of working and drive transformation across industries. As businesses embrace open source best practices and ‘innersource’, they become more efficient by reducing duplicate effort and breaking down barriers, so teams can share skills across the entire organisation. This creates a company culture where big ideas thrive and innovation becomes reality.

Decision-makers across the board must understand, communicate and harness the power of open source, if organisations are to adopt a collaborative and innovative mindset fit for today’s digital landscape. Open source collaboration does more than just bring great ideas to life, it brings people together and let them strive towards one common goal. And this is the most powerful asset a business can have.

Kai Hilton-Jones

Kai Hilton-Jones is the Regional Vice President, Field Services, International at GitHub.