Open Innovation can take many forms, and one manifestation is open source. It’s an area that is intriguing and provides learnings for other approaches to Open Innovation. A recent article by Sarah Johnson of Seymourpowell highlighted some of the potential, and stimulated further thoughts.
The open source movement revolutionized the development of software applications from core platforms, usually to the benefit of everybody involved. It is now generally accepted that originating companies profit more from an open source approach than the previous way of full control and secrecy. Another benefit, not realized at the start, is the improvement of the product through transparent peer review. As Sarah says:
“Open source technology harnesses the power of transparency of process – the continuous peer review can result in better quality, higher reliability and lower costs. This technology becomes stronger and more useful when it is put in the hands of the consumer.”
3D printing enables the rapid production of, primarily, prototypes. It can give form and shape to drawings, and is now moving into the realm of producing real product. It started in the realm of the specialist but is now opening up to everybody through open source. As Jakob Kisker of Seymourpowell pointed out in this article, it’s even being considered for construction on the moon!
Nokia recently released the design files for the Lumia 820 phone case, highlighting how important this revolutionary age is becoming. According to John Kneeland at Nokia, they are set to become the first major phone company to “begin embracing the 3D printing community and it’s incredible potential”.
As Sarah points out: “If we compare Apple and Nokia’s new approach we can clearly see the divide. Apple are exclusive, they make small, iterative and strongly guarded design improvements – they are closed and aside from feedback on forums or the creation of a social media tidal wave, the consumer has no input. On the counter side Nokia are inclusive, they are democratising the design process, they are open and any consumer can directly affect the product.”
Open enablers are increasingly common; at their heart is a philosophy, not a process – openness, transparency and sharing.