Jun 7, 2009

The Secret to Their Success

There's been a lot of exciting new things happening lately, even in the midst of this recession. Things like iPhone, Twitter, Hulu, and more recently Bing, the PalmPre which everyone seems to be fawning over, and of course, Google Wave - which I blogged about below. These are just the ones that pop to mind, there are a ton of other technologies and ideas in development. And all of this has prompted me to think about open source. Many businesses that have been around for a long period of time are absolutely petrified of people being able to take their secrets and capitalize on them. Yet, these more recent technologies are not just OK with others having the ability to access their trade secrets, but they're inviting folks to take their idea and make it better. iPhone has allowed anyone to create an app that can be downloaded through iTunes; Twitter has done the same thing -- there are many other applications that have been developed to utilize the basic Twitter concept in new and exciting ways, Google Wave hasn't even been released yet, but Google has unveiled it to all the geeks who are interested in playing with it and making it better. Even Zappos is a fascinating case study in sharing - Tony Hsieh is notorious for his open source style of management and leadership.

This is crowdsourcing at it's finest and it's fascinating to watch. Whereas, a business like Coca Cola keeps their trade secret recipe locked up in a vault with only a select few that know what is actually in Coca Cola, newer businesses are willing to share their work with others in order to collectively make it better.

It's definitely made me wonder - who is right? Is it better to guard your business secrets with your life or to share them; which could potentially lessen your own personal earning potential.