Driving tangible ROI in the enterprise, through open source

Open source offers a number of financial and other ROI incentives that add value back to the bottom line.

This is a contributed article by Nigel Abbott, Regional Director, North EMEA, GitHub.

Open source software is fast winning over the enterprise, with rapid adoption from both modern and more traditional organisations. This is because open source offers a huge range of advantages when compared to proprietary software development; from improved developer happiness and better security, to stronger collaboration and faster innovation. As business decision makers increasingly turn to ROI as a key driver for business change, open source adoption offers a number of financial and other ROI incentives that add value back to the bottom line.


Open source saves time and money

Open source increases efficiency when it comes to software development, which directly translates to financial savings. A recent Forrester report found that developers can save an average of 45 minutes a day when using open source. For an organisation of 1,800 people, this can equate to a financial saving of $12.4 million over just three years. Open source allows developers to work faster and smarter by enabling code reuse, faster innovation and improved adherence to best practices. It is also quicker to configure development environments — meaning less waiting around and more productivity — and boosts collaboration between teams, speeding up projects by connecting people who are looking to solve similar challenges.

In addition, businesses can also save on the tools and infrastructure that developers require to turn projects around. Research from Forrester has shown that by embracing open source, businesses can expect an 87 percent reduction in IT costs. This is because proprietary working methods often involve a wide variety of coding tools that are costly and limited in their functionality. In contrast, many open source platforms provide instant access to a full suite of integrated functionalities that can tackle almost any task, from boosting automation and enhancing security and delivering multi-tenant capabilities.

Enhanced collaboration is another important area where open source can boost efficiency and drive down costs. By collaborating across a wide range of geographies, developer teams can tap into a wide range of ideas and problem-solving techniques. Also, increased automation and ease of use of open source platforms and tools, make DevOps teams more efficient and able to support more projects, without having to add to headcount. Research has shown that this alone can generate savings of $404,000 over a three-year period.


Improve access to developer talent and cut the costs of onboarding

Sourcing the best developer talent can be an expensive endeavour given the limited talent pool and high demand. Adopting open source can be a powerful tool when it comes to attracting new hires. For many developers, open source is the gateway to coding. Collaborating on projects and contributing to code in their own time has meant that it has become their preferred way of working. Enterprises can benefit from this ubiquity when looking to attract developers and onboard them. In fact, 48 percent of hiring managers say their business has actively contributed money and resources to open source projects to access developer talent. 

In addition, thanks to developer familiarity with industry-leading tools, moving to open source can reduce the cost of onboarding by as much as 40 percent. For an enterprise of 1,800 developers, this translates into a saving of $442,000 over just three years.

Forward-thinking enterprises from across the globe are already benefiting from placing open source at the heart of their recruitment and onboarding efforts. 


Improved innovation and security enhances reputation and bottom line

Beyond financial and efficiency gains, open source also offers a number of wider benefits such as enhanced security, faster innovation, improved collaboration. Whilst these benefits are hard to quantify precisely, they should not be overlooked as they are critical for businesses looking to stay ahead of the market and drive competitive advantage.

Open source is widely regarded as a key driver behind innovation. Its culture of collaboration facilitates creativity and problem solving. To this point, recent research found that 85 percent of respondents experienced improved code when using open source toolsets.

Open source also helps organisations create more secure code. Adopting a security first approach and ‘shifting security left' enables developers to fix vulnerabilities as they are discovered, before they enter the production cycle. This also helps minimise vulnerable targets, making hacking more difficult and less profitable. A safe and healthy open source community isn't just good for open source, it benefits the millions of critical technologies that depend on it.

On GitHub alone, over the past year, about 12.3 million security alerts were remediated by developers, maintainers, and security researchers across the community. Using open source platforms and applying best practices means security is baked in from the very beginning, providing further savings and a boost to ROI as security incidents are reduced.


Open source is the future for enterprise organisations

The use of open source in the enterprise is already on the rise; 32 of the Global Fortune 50 are building software on GitHub Enterprise almost 78% of Global Fortune 50 companies have made a contribution to open source. For enterprise decision makers, ROI will continue to be front of mind, especially as they look to control costs tightly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The strong ROI in terms of cost and time savings, delivered by open source, means that it is likely to become an even more important investment for businesses looking to drive innovation.

Nigel Abbott is Regional Director, North EMEA, at GitHub. He started in the software industry immediately after leaving University in 1993. In this time, he's worked in a variety of disciplines from utilities and middleware, content and document management and more latterly on software developer platforms (since 2011). At GitHub, Abbott is responsible for its wide range of enterprise customers in the UK and Ireland, with customers in pretty much every vertical.