I was chatting with Cignex CEO Navin Nagiah (left) today about his company's new Goldegg project, in which it will help fund the work of 26 developers at 17 companies, making Plone a more viable content management system for enterprises.
"Eventually my gut sense is that the majority of people realize that giving back is going to benefit them," Nagiah said. In three-to-five years, perhaps, a critical mass of enterprises will accept this precept, which is basic to open source as a business movement.
That takes learning, I noted. Then I joked, "You know about Moore's Law of Training, don't you?" He didn't. "There is none," I responded. "Learning just takes time."
This led the two of us to a new understanding of the business cycle.
The old business cycle was based on inventories. Sales would slow, inventories would build, companies would cut production, resulting in a recession, then people were re-hired as balance was restored.
The new business cycle, I suggest, is based on training. Technology is acquired, but it isn't adapted for use until buyers feel pressure to raise productivity. It takes time to learn, to adapt technology to business needs, and a commitment to do that arises best out of need.
Open source can speed companies over these hurdles, not just by sharing code but by sharing lessons in applying it to get more work done with fewer people. With proprietary solutions, all this happens in isolation.
Nagiah revealed that "80 percent of our sales calls are inbound," companies calling Cignex asking for help, checkbooks at the ready. How does that happen, I asked.
"The big issue is trust," he said. That's an editorial value, I replied, not something that comes from advertising. It's based on actions, upon credibility, demonstrating that you will share the load. You can't advertise trust unless you practice it. So by being a good community member, Cignex causes those customers to call it.
It may take another recession for this lesson to sink in. If open source customers, and providers, get through that recession better than those who rely on, or provide, proprietary solutions, you might think of it as Moore's Law in action. Moore's Law of Training, that is.