Small-grid OSS business model

Companies often see the disruptive forces affecting their industry. They frequently divert sufficient resources to participate in emerging markets. Their failure is usually an inability to truly embrace the new business models the disruptive change opens up. Kodak created a digital camera, invested in the technology, and even understood that photos would be shared online. Where they failed was in realizing that online photo sharing was the new business, not just a way to expand the printing business.”
Scott Anthony
here on HBR.

As discussed yesterday, Nokia lost its dominant market share as a result of a structural shift triggered by Apple. The quote above extends on this theme with its source article highlighting a similar event effecting Kodak.

OSS has seen subtle shifts from network health to service activation to assuring / maximising service revenues but the business model hasn’t changed all that much over the years (at least not by comparison to Nokia’s or Kodak’s).

Like Kodak’s scenario, wave after wave of technology advances are impacting OSS but the question to ask is how these will aggregate into a business model shift. Dissatisfaction from customers and suppliers alike with the status quo mean that we’re an industry ripe for disruption.

Check out this comparison of NMS tools for example. There are over 60 products with relatively little differentiation. The Whale Curve suggests that a lot of their efforts will be destroying profitability.

Imagine how beneficial it could be if all these suppliers had their own niche expertise that was contributing towards a common OSS goal. Combine this with the fact that most large OSS projects fail to deliver on expectations, collapsing under the weight of complexity.

There are many possible structural pivots that could impact our industry, but I suspect it will stem from the need for a more modular approach within a common ecosystem. The small-grid approach described here.

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