Geoffrey Moore on Open Source and Capitalism

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"Open source has crossed the chasm and is heading straight for the tornado. In this keynote address from the Open Source Business Conference 2005, Geoffrey Moore proposes a marriage between the capitalist community, which is inherently competitive, and the open source community, which supports voluntary collaboration and cooperation.

In a place where the laws of evolution guarantee that today's competitive advantage will be tomorrow's commodity and the time between advantage to commoditization is shrinking the collaborative essence of the open source community offers some respite and relief. Geoffrey Moore suggests that competitors should engage the open source community to manage the commonality across the industry. Commonality is fundamentally anything that does not differentiate competitors or does not provide a competitive advantage. The rewards for adopting this strategy is that resources, which were previously working on commonality, can be repurposed to work on value creating activities.

Geoffrey also talks about the challenge of managing mission critical context, which is critical to a company's operation but does provide it with a competitive advantage. He discusses the five levers (centralize, standardize, modularize, automate and outsource) and how they apply to open source.

The message is loud and clear: Identify the value creating activities in your value chain and keep them under control because they are core to your competitive advantage. Additionally, define the the non-core activities and identify how to leverage the collaborative capabilities of the open source community to manage them."