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Today, from 25-40% of R&D business costs relate – in one way or another – to software. This confirms the vital importance of software in today's and tomorrow's digital world. It also highlights the crucial impact FLOSS could have on the whole innovation process and the economy. Thanks to its open and collaborative approach, the promotion of standards and interoperability, FLOSS have a strong potential to accelerate innovation, by favoring and accelerating technology transfers between research, academics and business, from SMEs to giant corporations. By involving end users in the innovation process, they also offer a key lever for innovation, accelerating the development of tomorrow's digital services: telecom, e-government, online services, healthcare.... Leveraging this potential will have a strong impact on the economy.

State of the Art

In 2008, the power of FLOSS for innovation is beginning to be widely recognized. FLOSS not only helps corporations by providing them with reliable, low cost, modular software to invent new solutions and services. FLOSS drives innovation by enabling pioneers to invent new business models based on publicity, subscription, and services; FLOSS helps early adopters boost their competitiveness to open new markets and target new customers with dual licensing or appliances models; FLOSS reshapes methodology and costs for mass marketers to create new services, POCs, and to differentiate themselves.

Recognized advantages of FLOSS include reduced time to market, leveraged R&D capabilities to complement existing offerings and create technological, market differentiation and fair value.

FLOSS supports excellence, differentiation and the emergence of talent through communities and social networking. FLOSS are particularly scalable because of a simplified licenses management policy which accelerates the transfer of technology from research to industry.

They accelerate the emergence of innovations in IT infrastructures, software, tools and application adoptions through the creation of ecosystems bringing together developers, users, partners and customers, oriented to engineering and business development. The IT industry has been the first one to leverage the potential of FLOSS. Examples range from operating systems (Apple MacOSX,  based on FreeBSD) to low cost information access devices (mobile phones, netbooks or Amazon Kindle) to very high value added solutions (such as supercomputers, 85% of which as based on Linux in the Top500 worldwide). However, the true innovative value of FLOSS doesn't just depend on its low cost and reusability. It depends on its principle of collaborative innovation, facilitating technology transfer within a whole ecosystem. Internet infrastructures, Java environments, the Eclipse development platform or Android are recent manifestations of this dynamic. Last but not least, a fundamental power of Open Source for innovation is its capacity to favor user-driven innovation. Examples range from technology to business processes (Google, Yahoo or eBay online services were made possible thanks to low-cost Open Source infrastructure solutions)...
As a result, FLOSS are not  just 'up-and-coming', from IT infrastructure (OS, Web2.0) and development tools (Wiki, collaborative tools) to business applications (CMS, ECM, ERP, eBusiness). They are beginning to be widely used in embedded solutions, from cars and planes to industrial devices, and becoming one of the mainstays – even the backbone, some might say - of the software industry.

Predictions and Recommendations


Software openness was commonplace in the early days of computing. In the 1980-2000 decades, the model of proprietary software publishing became prevalent in the industry. This is rapidly changing, so that openness is now coming back as a major enabler of innovation. FLOSS is a proven example of 'open innovation' applied to software. In the coming decades, software innovation will come about across the whole spectrum of models, in all of which FLOSS is likely to play a role. To some extent, the 'publisher' model is likely to become a special case scenario within a more general, ecosystem-based, innovation model relying on FLOSS.

In 2020, the impact of FLOSS could become prevalent. Our vision is that

- Floss will become the common standard for interactions with hardware, systems, applications through private and public networks;

- Floss will be developed on open standards published and owned by communities of users, customers and techno-providers, with clear governance rules and transparent sources. They will be free from patents revendication risks which will have been discussed and modified against a background of a worldwide industry and government pressure ;

- The Floss model will breathe life into global platforms so new technologies, services and companies can emerge. It will be recognized as the best way to accelerate the rhythm of technology acceptance with new business software and tools, and for strident infrastructure breakthroughs to take place in cloud computing platforms, Saas models, or embedded appliances development, while keeping a competitive and worldwide approach;

- Floss platforms will be chosen and used to share investments and resources to tackle the global issues facing IT like energy regulation, fair transfer of technologies and education, preservation of electronic individual property and ethical scientific computing...
To meet these objectives, we would like to highlight the following predictions and recommendations.

1. FLOSS will become a standard for innovation processes. this will lead to the appearance of open platforms enabling innovation

FLOSS will become the standard necessary to IT innovation differentiation, by encouraging the adoption of new technologies  thanks to open APIs and methodologies, improved time to market, the emergence of new service models, more competitive technologies, and wider community acceptance...

More and more research, industry and government organizations will leverage FLOSS investments to answer their business or service requirements. In the future, FLOSS will be increasingly used to create open innovation platforms based on open standards and APIs. These platforms will favor innovation and value creation for whole ecosystems They will be supplied by early adopters needing to complete their technological offering and reduce their time to market, by public and private customers needing to preserve a sustainable technology alternative, by service companies willing to bring new offerings and services to the market. Even proprietary software vendors will increasingly create and distribute APIs and connectors using the Floss model to reach more partners and customers.

Recommendation #1: Enterprises and innovation centers (research centers, consortia, etc.) must leverage FLOSS as a key lever for collaborative innovation, and create / participate in building  appropriate FLOSS platforms.

This is a reality for IT players, but also for banking, industry or defense sectors. The development of community sourcing should be one of the major outcomes of the development of the FLOSS industry, leveraging  and extending first initiatives of this kind today in telecoms (Open Hanset Alliance, OpenMoko or LIMO in telecom,), in e-government (OSOR and ADULLACT), in manufacuring (use of FLOSS in cars, trains, etc.), etc.
Different platforms could appear like open services platforms, open mobility platforms (Androïd for example), open e-government platforms (see Osor recommendations) or open e-market platforms.

Recommendation #2: Interprofessional bodies must study the launch of FLOSS initiatives in their fields for new standards in the finance, automotive, transportation, etc sectors.

Following the adoption of these platforms and APIs, either methodologies and standards will adapt to these new technological models, or certifications will be provided by experts and software vendors like CMMI, ISOXXX, etc.

Recommendation #3: Suitable procedures and standards must be developed to manage and certify FLOSS-based open innovation 

2. Dedicated ecosystems will develop to manage floss-based innovation processes, with specific  governance rules and patents strategies

In order to leverage innovation based on openness, bridges should be built between communities with “grass roots” structures, academia and the business world. This may be achieved through non-profit organizations able to federate both individuals and organizations around innovative activities based on openness. Such structures should go beyond the first generation and second generation FLOSS communities (individuals, enterprises) to third and fourth generation communities, linking all stakeholders.

The FLOSS model will develop through collaborative platforms and forges, creating a new ecosystem based on social networking and common interest, and regulated by governance rules and FLOSS licenses. Specific networks such as Competitiveness clusters in France (such as System@tic Paris Region, the first cluster worldwide to have developed a specific FLOSS workgroup), should develop in the future.

Recommendation #4: The development of cross-industry foundations based on FLOSS principles and governance must be encouraged.
Beyond communities, it is also interesting to study the experiences gained from developing  marketplaces for collaborative innovation. Going beyond IT, these innovative principals can be leveraged in domains such as Pharmacy, Aeronautics, etc. Organizations such as InnoCentive, Yet2Com or NineSigma are today pioneers interested by such structures. These principles should be developed and adapted for the FLOSS domain (with appropriate FLOSS licensing and IP management).  

Recommendation #5: Encourage the development of open innovation marketplaces, either public or privately held.

The full potential of FLOSS can be leveraged only if the patent threat is removed. Software licenses are plagued today by the complexity of the international IP context, based on  copyright law, which is often overlooked in innovation support cycles, where the bottom line is the need for protection by patents. Both licenses and regulations have room for improvement, so collaborative software innovation and engineering practices should become  an easy choice for all parties involved, from research to final users.
Within a legal environment taking into account the specificity of FLOSS, industries and governments have to transform patents and IP governance: by mutualizing open defensive patents, by discussing European and Asian open standards, by organizing a worldwide conference on the subject.

Recommendation #6 : Create an international conference on software and FLOSS IP, to favor the emergence of regulations favorable to FLOSS innovation. 

3. FLOSS will be a key driver enabling new technologies and services to emerge, such as cloud and green computing, internet of objects, and ambient computing, social software, and security and privacy

With the emergence of open platforms based on common standards and interoperability rules, the commoditization of a  large proportion of systems and infrastructure will transform the issues around innovation. This will bring new capabilities to invest in emerging technological domains. FLOSS development is especially useful in domains that require creation of a common framework for many players, a common ground for complexity management, and the avoidance of monopolies. FLOSS should therefore be of prime importance in the following domains:

New services emerge to deliver more resources
The global dematerialization and internationalization of uses will leverage technologies to manage higher volumes of data with  greater efficiency. Structured and de-structured information searches, multimedia, proliferating sound and video resources  will drive the implementation of semantic and correlation technologies.
This will in turn bring about more innovative services with proof of concept resources, hosting and performance management resources, collaborative and social networking bringing together an ecosystem including everyone from IT teams to customers, such as freemium services , cloud platforms and SaaS model engines.

Next generation Cloud infrastructures and green Computing
The development of the digital economy and the reduction of the digital divide call for the emergence of new infrastructures, able to serve the needs of billions of people while respecting the environment. This calls for new IT infrastructure development to cope with enormous computing power and data storage challenges. FLOSS innovation can focus the world's intelligence to solve these complex  issues, from mutualization of computing resources (virtualization, grid, HPC platforms, autonomic computing, etc.) to data management (structured and destructured information, multimedia and video resources, huge data volumes, semantic technologies) to the development of innovative services on top of these platforms (social networking, autonomic computing, etc.).

Recommendation #7: Create a FLOSS initiative on Cloud Computing to create Open cloud platforms

Devices for digital inclusion / Internet of Object
FLOSS will be key in extending technologies and their uses for new interfaces: APIs and interoperability, IHM, new devices (embedded, Netbooks, mobiles), MtoM (M2M web services), ambient computing technologies.

With the increase in volumes of data, contextual and profiling technologies will be a repository for big issues about preserving privacy and confidentiality.

Recommendation #8: Create FLOSS platforms to gather specifications and open components for MtoM and ambient computing.

Social and agile software.
Collaborative computing is at the heart of tomorrow's IT. FLOSS social software development is a key research axis that should be pursued if we are to halt the advance of closed solutions in this field.
Agile methods of development will also allow better flexibility, more reactivity in development and customization, and will enable the development of collaborative support access based on contribution and professional involvement, new reference software insurance models provided by publishers championing FLOSS.

Recommendation #9: Foster FLOSS initiatives on social software

Security and privacy
The need to protect privacy and safety in a more complex environment should drive innovations in security and privacy, Identity and role management, safety and secure computing, tracking of sessions and traceability to constitute proofs and responsibilities. More extended network environments will bring new issues, adding audit and control components to improve the security level, and information access traceability.
Security and privacy are among the key challenges for tomorrow. FLOSS can be instrumental to solve them with open and safe technologies in recovery technologies, maintenance capabilities like self adaptation, auto-testing and repairing systems.

Recommendation #10: Develop FLOSS initiatives and projects in security, and among all ID and privacy

4. FLOSS will have an impact on our society,  and will contribute strongly to solving sustainable development challenges, and to creating new waves of entrepreneurship

Open Innovation will open new opportunities for growth, wealth, and entrepreneurship.

Developing open standards, common labels and cross standardization (private and public) will allow markets to become regulated in time for the next onslaught of global challenges: new models for global, fair distribution and energy consumption: green IT, technology sustainability, standard transparency for fair access, fair standard technologies on a global scale to reduce  inequality...
2012 objectives are to give a 100% access to the Internet, 2020 objectives would be to give people  access to an Internet public address, volume and resources...

Floss will provide the opportunity to reduce discrepancies worldwide in IT and education  by preserving an open space for access to software and content resources; to leverage more technologies and markets, train more engineers, to appeal to entrepreneurs by giving them a window on the IT world...

Recommendation #11: Recognize the contribution FLOSS makes to society and sustain its development, with fiscal incentives, for both enterprises and the general public.

In 2020, energy regulations, interoperability and fair development will play a major rôle in IT development. Maintaining ever stronger FLOSS policies will be the only economic way to control standards on a worldwide scale o, and to set up regulations in combination with a structured policy for investment. 

In particular, in a complex IT offering where access modes, infrastructures, software and content can be delivered by proprietary providers, the risk of a big IT crunch could materialize through players failing to take on board their individual responsibilities. Floss can only preserve transparency and individual safety in a worldwide network.

FLOSS will be necessary to prevent monopolies from forming, and to preserve competition in software and information access, and this throughout the ICT industry. It could help us find a competitive solution to neutralize the risk of shortfalls that might occur in investment in IT due to the 2008-2009 economic crisis. By lowering entry barriers, it is also a strong way to foster entrepreneurship in the IT market, and the best way to encourage startups and SMBs development.

Recommendation #12: Promote entrepreneurship in FLOSS, create seedbeds and places to host start-ups with material and guides for newcomers, make FLOSS workgroups emerge in the entrepreneurs and associative networks


Four main risks have been identified which could hinder Open Source becoming widespread in the market and the field of innovation. These risks  would also affect the actors themselves.

1. A standardized patents system or other legal regulations

would first drive a lot of publishers and SMBs to the wall, and then the global non-US  IT ecosystem would be penalized due to a lack of patents experience through a big legal war for proprietarization of European and Asian technologies. After that, software entrepreneurship would be dependent on goodwill, and payment, from big license providers.

2. The eradication of IT publishers

the emergence of new massive models (Cloud computing and SaaS distribution models) would prevent the emergence of competition between entrepreneurship and SMEs in technology development. (See Theme 4: new models)

3. The proprietarization of accesses to networks and resources

due to the concentration of software publishers, the explosion of mass market models through cloud computing or SaaS offerings leading to a concentration of  resources, and the development of embedded proprietary offers on network access and hosting resources could occur, leading to an exclusion of FLOSS from the development landscape. This would promote a new concentration of Capital and an explosion in the cost of access to IT resources for most people, with a risk of a computing bubble due to an absence of control of the technologies chain.

4. Strong differences in the education between continents and cultures

as a result of the increasing cost and global proprietarization of network and computing resources.

The application of the above recommendations is the way to mitigate these risks.

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