Open source principles key to digital transformation

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Open source – or at least its fundamental, underlying principles – is key to successful digital transformation, according to a new e-book, “Digital transformation, the open source way” published recently by open source pioneer Red Hat.

The book outlines how open source principles can be used to build a better business by powering the transformation of not only technology, but also culture and business practices.

However, there is no single understanding of exactly what digital transformation is. Most people recognise that the world has changed with digital devices and services connecting everything and everyone, and customers have more choice than ever before.

As a result, every industry faces disruption and businesses have to change – transform – if they are to meet new consumer demands and stay ahead of the competition.

In an earlier Red Hat publication, “Teaching an elephant to dance – six stages of digital transformation”, authors Burr Sutter and Deon Ballard noted that “the term digital transformation is sometimes used to mean new architectures like microservices, or new processes like DevOps, or new technologies like containers and applications programming interfaces (APIs). When something can mean anything, it effectively means nothing,” they wrote, adding that “digital transformation isn’t a specific thing that you can get. It is a thing that every organisation has to define for itself.”

In “Digital transformation, the open source way”, Red Hat points out that while digital transformation is critical to ongoing business success, legacy technology, outdated processes and separate IT initiatives can hamper transformation and prevent the realisation of tangible benefits.

...transparency, inclusivity, adaptability, collaboration and community are the keys to organisational and cultural transformation across all industries.

Red Hat

However, Red Hat president and CEO Jim Whitehurst maintains that digital transformation doesn’t only involve technology, but people and values as well.

He is not alone. IDC’s “FutureScape: Worldwide IT Industry 2018 Predictions” stated that “having the right combination of culture, process and technology is most critical to an organisation’s digital transformation success”.

Red Hat believes that “collaborative cultures, open and transparent processes, and industry-tested open tools provide the agility and security needed to support transformation”.

In effect, says Red Hat, the principles that power open source software communities such as transparency, inclusivity, adaptability, collaboration and community are the keys to organisational and cultural transformation across all industries.

Culture, process, technology

Transformation therefore begins when organisations adopt an open approach to business in three critical areas: culture, process and technology.

  • Open culture: this improves how teams collaborate and communicate to ensure success in expanding roles and changing the technology landscape.
  • Open process: this breaks down divisions and builds efficiency into all aspects of the business, improving product quality and time to market.
  • Open technology: this provides the modern, secure toolset needed for teams to deliver innovative work faster, while maintaining the flow of business.

“Open source is built on the idea that we can accomplish more together. When cross-functional teams share ideas freely, innovation accelerates and teams deliver more, fast, and with less risk. 

"With the same open principles applied to all aspects of your business, everything – and everyone – works together. You eliminate time- and talent-wasting activities, and you can anticipate and react ahead of each new wave of technology disruption,” Red Hat concludes.

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