The thing that gets everyone working together, each person doing their own self-interested thing, makes the whole better. This was Matt Mullenweg, WordPress founder and CEO of Automattic, on his podcast Distributed discussing distribute work and open source software.

WordPress.org is an open source content management tool. WordPress.com is a for-profit company that sells tools and services for WordPress. Automattic owns both and other companies (having acquired Tumblr last year). WordPress powers about 38% of the world’s Websites including this one.

Mullenweg’s podcast shares his experiences with distributed work (the only office is the Tumblr one it acquired with that company). Automattic gets the benefit of talented people no matter where they reside. And, the asynchronous work and other policies it’s adopted has created a loyalty where turnover is very low.

Back to open source.

The IT companies discovered long ago the immense benefits of open standards, open APIs, and open source. Microsoft, HPE, Dell Technologies, and many others have put a lot of their code into open source. They allow employees to work on open source projects. Why? Just as Mullenweg said, the community makes everything better. Can you build a company with a technological foundation on open source? Check out Red Hat. Or, WordPress.com.

Interviews and posts over the past few months point to a momentum in the industrial market, always a technological laggard, toward open standards and open source. I, for one, hope it not only continues, but grows. End users are finally getting enough clout to get their voices heard by suppliers.

Check out the Open Process Automation Forum work. And the advances made by the Linux Foundation. And the Industrial Internet Consortium. We are getting close to the end users’ desired state of interoperability.

This will not be bad for the proprietary vendors–at least those who can adapt and think ahead. Customer lock-in only works for a while until the customer finally feels it’s been gouged too much and bites the bullet for the pain of change. The end game for the benefit of the market and for society is more efficient and productive end user manufacturers. Sometimes we forget that.

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