What is Open Source?
Open Source is a young and ever-growing movement in the 21st century. Open Source means new methods for communication and collaboration. It is about making use of the vast opportunities of digital media and the internet. Through sharing information and digital resources openly, there is great potential to make gains in innovation, distribution, reputation and marketing, collaboration and increase of efficiency and effectiveness.
Open Source originally grew out of the Free Software movement, which laid out the groundwork and developed methods for collaboration around a common pool of information and resources. The Open Source development model has proven to be extremely successful – today most of the technical foundations of the internet are Free / Libre / Open Source Software and it is found throughout the software portfolios of most large enterprises.
Nowadays we see the Open Source model reaching out to many other areas. Open Source Hardware and Open Design are the most common terms when it comes to applying the open source model to the world of physical objects and services.
The Open Source Hardware Definition of the Open Source Hardware Association says:
“Open source hardware is hardware whose design is made publicly available so that anyone can study, modify, distribute, make, and sell the design or hardware based on that design. The hardware’s source … more“
Many companies and individuals have built successful businesses on products following this definition, and others simply take open source hardware as inspiration, as a starting point to begin opening aspects of their products and workflows. Open Source Hardware embodies what is the core practice of Open Source: To share information openly – and in doing so, empower people and give them the freedom to understand, adapt and improve the objects and tools they interact with. This process enables unique opportunities and new forms of direct and indirect collaboration that can be used by companies to grow their business and enhance their standing with the community.
Potential advantages a company or project could gain through Open Source strategies:
- Lower cost for research & development: open innovation is very often faster, cheaper and produces a broader range of solutions than traditional closed R&D.
- Stable ecosystems: reduced costs for b2b collaboration, new possibilities e.g. for product lifecycle management, integration with other products/systems, open standards etc.
- Lower legal expenses: less reliance on lawyers, patents, NDAs, maintaining trade secrets
- Better products: long-lasting due to ease of repair, cheaper due to free-market competition and the ability to build upon existing components, more features thanks to third party extensions, surprising use-cases developed by the community.
- Ethical bonus for the brand: “open“ is a positive narrative, it is fair, transparent, innovative, sustainable; the new ‘organic’ or ‘fair trade’.
- Lower costs for support & marketing: community and third parties communicate in forums, social networks etc.
- Better employees: it is proven that it is easier for open companies to find and attract highly qualified and motivated employees
For existing businesses, Open Source is above all about optimising workflows and products to include the input of the community. In doing this, a company is able to unlock new markets and explore new fields and methods for doing business. For companies and products suited to open source, there are many opportunities to engage in new collaboration patterns with their environment, customers and business partners. And the scope or field of application for Open Source becomes wider every day.
Open It Agency
The Open it Agency helps companies and organisations to understand Open Source and find suitable strategies to successfully apply and communicate Open approaches in their projects.
We believe Open Source is the future for many areas of our economy. It opens up new ways to grow healthy and flourishing companies as well as vibrant, engaged communities. Wherever a business has shared goals with other organizations or the larger community, there is huge potential for innovation and collaboration through Open Source.
The Sharing economy has shown us that together we can find better and smarter ways to use resources through collaboration. Through Open Source, this collaborative approach also provides a key for companies to do better and more efficient business. At the same time Open Source can lead the way towards a more environmentally and socially sustainable economy – another area of great potential for the future!
It is the Open it Agency’s goal to help organizations to understand openness and find individual opportunities with the greatest potential, and develop strategies to make the most of those opportunities with honesty and integrity. The team of the Open it Agency have years of active experience in the field of Open Source and the Sharing Economy to draw upon.
Here is a Video we made for the OSCEdays explaining: What is Open Source.
“designing for openness allows others to answer the questions that you don’t have the answers to, but its greatest power may be that it allows others to ask the questions that you haven’t even thought to ask.” -ROMAN MARS, 99% INVISIBLE