Open source software: 9 out of 10 companies use it, but how much is it really worth?


Open source software contributes £ 43.15 billion ($ 59 billion) to the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) annually and has brought an estimated ‘potential value’ of £ 46.5 billion to the UK. UK companies in 2020, according to a new survey by an organization that aims to promote the use of open technologies.

The report marks the third and final chapter of OpenUK’s investigation into the impact of open source software on the UK economy, as detailed in its State of Open: The UK 2021 article. adoption of open source software in the energy sector ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), to be held in Glasgow, Scotland.

The latest report claims the UK was the largest contributor to open source software in Europe and the fifth largest contributor in the world. He said 89% of companies use open source technologies.

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The OpenUK report estimates that open source has given UK companies £ 46.5 billion worth of collaboration, skill and quality of code, but it warns that “the small size of the sample reduces confidence in these results “. The reports are based on responses from just 273 companies in the UK from May to June 2021.

OpenUK believes that there is a polarization of the economy, due to the fact that large and small companies are more active in the use and contributions of open source software, while midsize organizations were more reluctant to engage.

But the report’s authors note that it is still difficult to provide figures with confidence due to a lack of data. Some companies, for example, employ contributors to open source software, but don’t know it.

“New ways of measuring the value of open source software need to be iterative and flexible. Rarely is there a large initial investment that depreciates over time as with traditional assets on a balance sheet. Instead, systems are designed for their flexibility, agility, and the ability to adapt and change as needed, ensuring the sustainability of the system. Open source allows for such efficiencies and as such investments can be made incrementally, contributions follow a pattern where users evolve into contributors and people are motivated to work on projects and should be paid for this work, ”he says. report.

“Some companies put a lot of effort into open source and they get a lot out of it, but it’s hard to measure. It’s hard to measure the impact,” said Cheryl Hung, lead engineer at Apple Cloud, in the report. .

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And OpenUK is trying to rely on calculations from a European Commission study based on the number of contributors to open source projects.

“The result was that if 260,000 contributors could cause open source software to have an economic impact of between £ 60.9 billion (€ 65 billion or $ 77.8 billion) and £ 84.15 billion (95 billion euros or $ 113.7 billion) in Europe, then 126,000 UK contributors in 2019 can have an impact of between £ 29.52 billion and £ 43.15 billion, provided that the individual contribution does not change from year to year, ”he notes.

It revealed that companies with revenues of less than £ 1million were the top recruiters for open source work-related positions, with 40% planning to hire backend developers, development managers and developers. full-stack over the next year. Companies with over £ 50million are more likely to hire cloud engineers, development operations engineers, and back-end developers.

OpenUK says the estimated £ 46.5 billion open source contribution to UK businesses in 2020 consisted of:

  • Direct contribution to the UK economy based on open source software – £ 15.7 billion
  • The potential monetary value of the collaboration – £ 11.3 billion
  • The potential monetary value of skills development – £ 10 billion
  • The potential monetary value of a high quality code – £ 9.5 billion

“Calculating the value created by open source software is inherently difficult. At OpenUK, we consider that a better understanding of this value is essential for the development of UK policy and the understanding of its use by businesses, ”said Amanda Brock, CEO of OpenUK.

When it comes to the energy sector, some believe that open source software could help reduce emissions through better access to energy data.

“If you can turn open source software into the most sustainable set of software any organization should run, that will be a priority that every business organization will need to follow in the future,” said Douglas Smith, digital, director of innovation and transformation at Scottish Power, in the report.

“Open source can be part of the net zero solution for businesses in the future, in part by harnessing the enthusiasm of communities for energy efficiency solutions and also by its highly reusable nature. ”


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