The kernel for this post was an innocuous article in the BBC online, headlined Computer knowledge “undervalued”. I read it some time ago, and for some reason it felt like I’d just sat on a saddle with a burr under it. Slowly I realised that there was no saddle, but that the burr remained. A big burr.Â And I thought to myself, oops. Double oops. Treble oops with cream on top. Why did I think that? Come for a ride with me.
Imagine there was an enterprise. Any enterprise. Now imagine that that particular enterprise had a bunch of people with “computer skills”. Imagine further that the specific “computer skills” these people had were, shall we say, “proprietary” skills.
With me so far? Okay. Now let’s imagine a bunch of consultants coming along and helping said enterprise “value” these “proprietary” skills, and in some convoluted manner “placing” this “value” “on the balance sheet”. [Why would this happen? Because it’s the sort of d^*mfool thing consultants do.]
Oops. Now, with just a tiny bit of legerdemain, the enterprise’s cost of converting from a proprietary world to an opensource world has just gone stratospheric.
More worryingly, at one fell swoop, the opensource and web-savvy skills of Generation M have been made to disappear. [To be precise, the potential value of their skills has been decimated].
You’re right, it couldn’t possibly happen. No enterprise would be crass enough to do that. [RageBoy, you listening?]
And how do we avoid this thing that couldn’t possibly happen? Simple. We must value opensource skills substantially higher than proprietary skills.
Something to think about. When it comes to valuing computer skills, opensource beats proprietary every time. More optionality, less lock-in, more future-proofing and insurance against obsolescence, lower switching costs, easier retraining, the list goes on.