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Bitkom’s research report "Open Source Monitor 2019," sponsored by Red Hat, provides robust figures for the importance of open source. It helps to illustrate that open source is the foundation of new technologies, which drive digital transformation.

804 German companies with at least 100 employees among various industries were surveyed, including companies in the automotive, banking, insurance, commerce, IT, telecommunication, transport, and logistics industries. One of the positive results of the Bitkom study is that, at 
4 percent, only a tiny minority of respondents are skeptical of open source. Three quarters of surveyed companies are “interested and open-minded.” However, these figures still fail to correspond adequately with the “strategic incorporation of the topic in corporate practices” and with usage.

Only every fifth company has a company wide open source strategy, whereas at least 69 percent of those surveyed use open source software.

The surveyed companies use open source software in a wide variety of areas. The study also reports that the use of open source plays a vital role in new technologies and critical components of digital transformation, in areas such as cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence or big data and analytics.

These areas are developing at a tremendous pace, precisely because many of these technologies are based on open source and jointly developed by the community and companies. Open source is the driving force behind these changes and a steady source of innovation that hardly any company can afford to ignore these days, as the study suggests.

Contributors in the open source world are driving the development of new solutions in community projects. The software depends on the communication, collaboration and creativity of those involved, who, in an open corporate culture, improve the existing, develop the new and thus act as a driving force for the digital transformation. 

However, only a third of the surveyed companies are actively participating in the development or further development of open source software so far. It is interesting to note that their engagement is not only motivated by financial aspects but also by the crucial factors of motivation and staff development. One can only hope that the study will help to further promote inter-departmental and company-wide cooperation and participation in open source projects.

The results of the questions on advantages and disadvantages also illustrate the general change in the assessment of open source. Accordingly, the answers on the advantages of open source software include the high level of security, which is ensured, among other things, by continuous updates and software upgrades, second only to the central aspect of cost savings. It is not surprising that respondents regard the lack of expertise as the most significant disadvantage. It illustrates that companies currently have a great need for strategic partners in the open source segment, such as Red Hat.

At Red Hat, we are hoping that the study will help to portray open source for what it ultimately is – not “just” software, but an essential part of IT strategy. First of all, open source is a steady source of innovation that hardly any company can afford to ignore these days. Secondly, open source also represents the most crucial success factors of innovative companies, notably open communication, a high degree of transparency and creativity – and thus, a new corporate culture.

Parts of this expert statement was first published in Bitkom's Open Source Monitor 2019.

About the author

As EMEA evangelist, Jan Wildeboer is responsible for high-level customer relations and for strengthening the Red Hat brand and ecosystem. This includes participating in CxO-level customer meetings and delivering keynote speeches at events across EMEA.

Wildeboer is focussed on helping generate awareness and adoption of open standards across Europe, through community involvement and continuous championing of open source. As a lobbyist for open source in Brussels, Wildeboer was a leader in the successful movement to abolish the Software Patents directive in the European Parliament. 

He is a member of the Open Forum Europe, Open Source Business Foundation (OSBF) and European Committee on Interoperable Systems (ECIS).

Wildeboer began working at Red Hat as a solution architect. Previously he was a core developer at osCommerce, a systems administrator at Seijsener and a backend systems software engineer at DomainFactory.

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