Headless Chickens

This is an amusing this attempt to label strategic approaches to Open source available to the software vendor.

  1. The truly committed
  2. The mixed-codebase
  3. The pragmatics
  4. The anti-strategist
  5. The headless chickens
  6. The in-denial
  7. The anti-OSS

Open Source has upset the apple cart of consensus about how to run a software company. Just consider a handful of the sources of risk (from Porter’s classic list). Open Source totally changed the nature of buyer power. Buyer can now engage much more deeply with the vendor, collabratively evolving the product for joint gains. That change is rough for both sides.

The inputs to software firms have changed, i.e. what Porter calls supplier power. The open developer community is a vast resource that you ignore at your peril. The software components you stand on have changed and many are now open. Even if you avoid the viral power of the GPL the culture of development has changed.

While not particularly unique to open source (i.e. it’s happening all across the information/knowledge industries) new entrants face much lower barriers today. That increases velocity as well as uncertainty.

In classical industrial frameworks a industry seems to sort it’s self out into a clear pecking order. It then settle into a kind of low key rivalous behaviour along the lines of that ordering. Buyers and sellers rondevous around the resulting arguement.

In a disruptive period the rules aren’t clear. The argument is always changing. In businesses where industries don’t emerge them never do.

I’m amused that list reflects an attempt to impose ordering on the vendors. To frame the measures of quality for CIO/CTO buyers. In that PR frame it’s clearly biased toward the author’s firm. That’s typical, it’s part of an argument that unfolds whenever an industry is in flux. What measures of quality will define the industry’s peeking order after things get sorted out is the key issue during the disruptive phase. So of course every vendor clueful vendor is desperate to make sure that whatever they have in the way of strengths become the leading attributes of quality.

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