There’s clearly a connection between the open source development model for software and innovation in technology, and there are a lot of different perspectives on the link between the two. Innovation is a wonderfully fluid topic in and of itself -- the kind of phenomena that fascinates, is characterized by recognizable patterns, but yet defies concrete black-and-white definition. As soon the concept of innovation in the technology world seems to be narrowed down, an exception emerges. That’s the fun of it. And that’s also why discussions about innovation are more interesting than definitions.

In Barb Mosher Zinck’s recently published “Discussion Point” article -- Does Open Source Encourage and Support Innovation? -- the question was posed to open source vendors Hippo, Liferay, and Nuxeo. Responses came from the CEOs, CTOs, CMOs, and Community Managers, giving a range of perspectives on this multi-faceted issue.

Some recurring themes from the responses include:

  • An open community and the broader ecosystem of contributions to the software and user feedback fosters an innovative environment, where problems can be identified and solutions can be found collectively, and much faster

  • Open standards provide a framework within which people from different systems can work together, pooling mindshare, and reducing redundant development work

  • The flexibility of open source software allows the IT shop to build their own innovative solutions, by enabling easier integrations within their systems and by facilitating customization and adaptation to their particular context.

I encourage you to read through Barb’s article for more insight, and to keep the discussion going.