The GitHub Revolution
Unless you are a serious geek, you’ve probably never heard of Github. Why would you? The website provides a repository for storing and accessing code. Yet their latest venture round valued the company at $750m. Understanding how the company works will shine a light on the future and show you how businesses will need to behave in the future to compete
Empowered through open source
Github started life as hobby to make the lives easier for coders. The free platform provided an efficient way to share bits of code and simultaneously work on software projects. Instead of the painstaking job of coding a new e-commerce platform from scratch, you can now take one ‘off the shelf’ for free. A virtual Lego box for software development.
There are, currently, 3 million coders on GitHub, working on over 5 million projects. Any one of these coders deposits a chunk of code and a description of the kind of help they were looking for, and then sits back as other coders around the world go to work.
The way it makes money is around whether or not the code is left open source. If the software is left open source, the code being edited is free and visible to everyone. Alternatively, if the software is proprietary, companies can pay to just use Github’s collaborative platform. As Will Bourne, in Inc Magazine puts it, “your company’s developers work in private, using the collaborative features of GitHub has built but not its distributed global network of talent.”
Whichever way the platform is used, GitHub is highlighting how businesses will be created in the future.
- Businesses need to structure themselves to collaborative engage the global talent pool
Gone are the days that you can expect to create the best products in-house. Increasingly, businesses will have to engage their customers and the wider world in collaborative development. For example, businesses with established platforms but less expertise creating compelling digital experiences should look to create APIs, which allows developers to create software that runs on your systems.
- Business need to move quick into market
New entrants can now download most of the software they will need rather than spending millions of man-hours to create it from scratch, instantly destroying the competitive advantage incumbents have built up. Rather than being the victim of this change, business should look for which parts of their business they can outsource, open source, or build through partnerships. For example, cultivate the start-up community in your industry with the aim of supporting new product development through acquisition or partnership.
Technology-enabled collaboration is the way the world is going, but the change is destroying barriers to entry. Incumbents need to ride the wave or risk getting crushed by it.
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