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How enterprises use Github may predict whether they disrupt or are disrupted

Steven Max Patterson | Feb. 23, 2016
Success or failure in the disruption and transformation cycle may hinge on participation in Github’s repository and open source communities.

Credit: flickr/Ben Scholzen

The breathtaking mobile ad revenue growth recently reported by Facebook and Google’s parent company Alphabet come with a very disturbing flip side. Many organizations are fueling this growth with ad spend to just get a secondary and tertiary relationship with their customers because they haven’t succeeded in engaging their customers’ attention on mobile. Few, if any, enterprises have won a first-degree relationship with an app on their customers’ mobile device screens.

The mobile-driven cloud-platform model that companies such as Amazon, Airbnb, and Uber have used to transform entire business segments has eluded most enterprises. The winners call it digital transformation, and the losers call it digital disruption. The impact of digital disruption on industries such as publishing, retailing, telecommunications, travel and hospitality, and transportation in the past decade predict a point of no return for enterprises unable to transform. Those that successfully transform will operate their businesses on mobile-driven clouds on top of commodity hardware, built with open source software, that will be indistinguishable from Alphabet and Facebook.

GitHub’s head of product management Kakul Srivastava spoke to me about how some enterprises are innovating with Github and open innovation models, and are beginning to transform their businesses. Digital transformation begins with the recognition that the enterprise is a software company, no matter what industry segment it occupies. Enterprises turn to open source software to rapidly scale the proprietary IT department’s limits on transformation. Github’s natural monopoly as the repository of open source software projects positions it at the heart of this transformation. It is a unique and early reference point for observing change within enterprises.

Both startups and behemoths like Walmart need the collaboration provided by Github’s source code repository and, according to Srivastava, they also look to Github for help with their open source strategies. She explained that building end-to-end core software competency with an open innovation model happens in stages.

It begins with a casual question: What open source communities are important to us? Then it starts to snowball with a second question: Which ones should we join and contribute? Brandon Keepers, Github developer advocate who also joined in the conversation, pointed out that these quickly become strategic questions rather than a request for help navigating the many open source communities. Keepers explained it by citing Facebook’s React open source framework, which is used by Javascript developers to create innovative web applications. He explained that Facebook’s web and desktop innovation relies on recruiting the best Javascript developers. React open source development on Github does more than bring a diverse and large community of developers from inside and outside of Facebook to build React collaboratively; the act of collaborative development also brings Facebook great developer candidates through Github. 


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