Accenture hands open source a hockey stick

The opportunity is now before open source to make corporations into true open source citizens.

For over 30 years as a reporter I have been treated to hockey stick graphs.

(That's not a graph, it's a real hockey stick and puck, from Wikipedia.)

Here's a business that's rolling along slowly, and here's where it will be in a few years. The front end of the graph slopes slowly, the back end slopes sharply. Tada, hockey stick!

(Yes, I know, it's a natural property of numbers. A constant rate of change yields a bigger numerical increase as it's repeated. But some pointy-headed bosses are still surprised, thus the hockey stick, which you can hit them over the head with.)

Today Accenture has a hockey stick for open source. It's based on a survey of 300 organizations, 69% of which say they're going to increase open source investment this year and 38% of which say they're moving mission critical applications to it in the next 12 months.

Why? Well quality and reliability they say. (OK, half admit, it's cheaper.)

But there's a wormhole in this stick. Only 29% say they're going to contribute anything back to the community. In other words they're planning on taking without giving back.

As readers of this blog know that is a recipe for failure. Or relative failure at any rate. Even if you're using a BSD-type license, an all-take and no-give attitude toward open source is self-defeating. You're divorcing yourself from the people who can help you, and yes, some of them work at competitors.

There remains skepticism from open source advocates about Codeplex and the Codeplex Foundation, but this is the kind of thing both were built for. Open source benefits enormously from corporate contributions. As these same skeptics are fond of claiming, open source wouldn't amount to much without them.

But so far these contributions have come from technology companies. Some have a motive of (gasp) profit. They haven't come from banks, brokers, medical companies, manufacturers, the bulk of the Fortunate 500.

The opportunity is now before open source to change that, to make corporations into true open source citizens. I hope Accenture will be on the front end of that. If you need help call the folks at Codeplex. If they won't understand the stick, hit them with the puck.