Research Library

Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts: Strategies for an Increasingly Open Economy – report

The success of open source software has far exceeded initial expectations and we have long speculated that the ‘open’ meme would eventually spread to non-IT sectors.  

In addition to many open software projects, we have recently seen a growing emphasis in universities on open science and open curricula; increasing government commitments to open data; and perhaps most intriguingly, impressive demonstrations of the power of open source manufacturing designs when combined with 3D printing.  There is now open activity at virtually every level of business and IT. 

This report describes our findings and the lessons learned, and provides recommendations for using various open technology approaches.  Over the coming year we will continue to assess the potential for more open and transparent strategies, and how firms balance these pressures with their traditional needs for security and confidentiality.  It’s one of the more intriguing strategic challenges of our increasingly open and internet-based world, and one where Enterprise IT can play an important leadership role.

Watch a clip of Simon discussing this research including some of the findings that characterize open market competition and strategy.


Executive Summary

PDF (1.3 MB)

Single Topic Report

PDF (9.5 MB)



Simon Wardley
Simon Wardley, based in the UK, is a Researcher for Leading Edge Forum and the lead practitioner for Wardley Maps advisory service helping clients anticipate market and ecosystem developments. Simon’s focus is on the intersection of IT strategy and new technologies, and he is the author of multiple reports including Clash of the Titans – Will China Dethrone Silicon Valley?  where he assesses the hi-tech challenge from China and what this means to the future of global technology industry competition. His previous research covers topics including Of Wonders and Disruption,  The Future is More Predictable Than You Think - A Workbook for Value Chain Mapping, Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts: Strategies for an Increasingly Open Economy, Learning from Web 2.0 and A Lifecycle Approach to Cloud Computing. Simon is a seasoned executive who has spent the last 15 years defining future IT strategies for companies in the FMCG, Retail and IT industries.  From Canon’s early leadership in the cloud computing space in 2005 to Ubuntu’s recent dominance as the #1 Cloud operating system. As a geneticist with a love of mathematics and a fascination in economics, Simon has always found himself dealing with complex systems, whether it’s in behavioural patterns, environmental risks of chemical pollution, developing novel computer systems or managing companies.  He is a passionate advocate and researcher in the fields of open source, commoditization, innovation, organizational structure and cybernetics. Simon is a regular presenter at conferences worldwide, and has been voted as one of the UK's top 50 most influential people in IT in recent Computer Weekly polls.