Open source in the software game is a fascinating phenomenon. Organizations open up their code to outsiders whom they hope will improve it while at the same time enlisting a community of loyal users. It all started in response to Microsoft’s closed, monopolistic approach to business. Many programmers became so anti-Microsoft that they grouped together and created open source products, beginning with the Linux operating system.
Today an outgrowth of this is corporations employing user-generated-content networks to keep in close touch with consumers — allowing them to help mold product spec. And it’s working. This provides an ongoing, low-cost consumer research loop.
But where are the business-to-business and industrial manufacturers in all of this? When, if ever, will they open up their engineering code to others in the hope of product improvement? Isn’t it counter to everything they’ve learned in business school and on the street? Yup, but that will change.
B2B companies will begin to open up to the engineering departments of their customers using online tools and the results will be surprising.