If you read the Henry Chesbrough article on Open Innovation in the winter 2006/7 MIT Sloan business school review then you can’t help, but think he identified the problem for the IT industry. The basic premise was that in the golden past internal development costs for a new product were low, and the life cycle for the product was long with the resulting good profitability for those who got it right. The current situation is that development costs have gone up; dramatically, and at the same time product life cycles have decreased, answer a squeeze on profitability. He argues for the need to share the development process with others, and to find new ways to capitalise on the product through creating parallel routes to compensate for its short life.

Henry Chesbrough has a particularly impressive record in the field of Open Innovation, may be even being the leader. You can explore his work more carefully here. However taking the lesson to heart I gained my further insight into this through the ‘open’ approach to research from reading ‘Wikinomics’; sub title ‘how mass collaboration changes everything’. This is not at first sight a killer of a book, after all seems a fairly obvious title and theme, but reading it carefully, as well as looking up the examples it features, makes it a very rewarding read.
The current state of the IT industry seems to be driven by; either consolidation of vendors for good old commercial reasons that happen in all industries; or the purchase of start-ups to access their innovative product / technology. The possible alternative could be said to be Open Source, but let’s put this to one side for now. If you have the book then turn to page 97, and start reading, alternatively go to the two sites that are quoted as examples; http://www.innocentive.com/ and http://www.yet2.com/ . What you are looking at are two similar, but different sites that trade break through capabilities. Unfortunately only in limited areas primarily around science, where corporations can post their problem, individuals can offer an answer and get paid the going commercial rate.
Actually, there is a lot more going on than just this, with some global enterprises running massive R&D operations also offering their unused patents as a method of recouping their running costs, etc, etc. Seems in IT it’s only IBM who are really making this pay, and to the tune of about $1 billion a year in licensing unused or lightly used patents. Makes you think about some of those interesting problems that need solving in department operations doesn’t it? Or may be about your useful script for……
Back to Open Source, and doing the work for the satisfaction, might be nice to get paid too! Anyone know of an equivalent site for the IT industry and the Technologists?