In and outside of Red Hat, the BYOD (bring your own device) trend has instilled a greater sense of power and ownership for professionals wanting control over the tools they use at work. As Red Hat’s CIO, I’ve noticed this shift. Today, instead of the IT department being the sole source of the technologies Red Hat associates use, we encourage and benefit from associates who share their thoughts on the devices and apps that make them more productive, and what they do and do not like.
I’ve come to embrace this open BYOD policy and the business benefits it can carry. If an individual is more productive and efficient using one device or application over another, it’s a win-win for both the business and the individual. Yes, inherent in an open BYOD policy are challenges with regards to support and security, but those concerns are addressable and, so far, the benefits seem to outweigh the costs. But, BYOD illustrates a larger trend at play. Thanks to social media, smart phones and applications, users now have a greater influence on IT development. The user-driven trend that has emerged is influencing devices and applications, and as they continue to proliferate, this trend will not likely die down.
I believe this is why the open source community is the perfect breeding ground for future innovation. Open source, by nature, is designed to support mass user participation and input. That input can be used to determine the direction of current and future open source projects. One could argue the global open source community is more tapped into technology trends than a select team of engineers sitting together in a single location. As end users continue to influence the direction and speed with which technology is moving, open source is – in my opinion – the best channel available to adequately meet the demands IT departments will face in the next 5-10, maybe even 20 years.
This user-driven trend only adds to the challenges long faced by the proprietary development model. Looking to proprietary solutions to create the innovative products of the future may be like asking a turtle to crawl on its back – slow, challenging and unsuccessful. This is why the Googles, Facebooks and Amazons of the world are turning to open source. And ultimately, I believe this is what will lead the open source community to being the definitive playground for creating innovation.