Open business is a concept that uses the Internet to create open content and open source projects, sometimes called “crowd sourcing.” The idea is for a business to tap into the vast pool of knowledge and human creative potential that can found on the Internet. Access to this wealth of input can increase the company’s ability to enhance its products and services, as well as create new ones. The model operates on the principle of transparency. Anyone can participate in an open source project, and anyone participating can see what everyone else is doing on the project and comment on it.
An example of how the open business concept works is Google®’s use of an open source platform to launch a new mobile phone. Anyone in the world could contribute ideas for innovations, styles and special features. Using “peer production,” those involved share and comment on one another’s ideas. It all takes place at a central Internet location that anyone who is interested in the project can access.
As proof of the economic potential of open source projects, many observers point to one of the Goldcorp company's projects. Goldcorp posted geological survey maps and invited Internet users to participate in selecting possible locations where gold might be found. The enterprise resulted in over one hundred positive finds and the extraction of over three billion US Dollars (USD) in gold.
With the concept of open content, Internet users provide, edit and add to content. Wikipedia® is an example of the potential of open content. The map service OpenStreetMap developed a project for a world map employing open content.
Most open business companies are associated with information technologies and the Internet. Traditional businesses have reportedly been cautious about these innovations. However, some are beginning to adopt as a research and development strategy a key concept of the open business model, which is to tap into the knowledge available outside the company to enhance resources it already has.
This has been true for instance in the area of intellectual property. Some larger companies are licensing their patents to small and midsize companies for development and further research. Innovations and ideas about the property allow the larger company with greater marketing assets to put the innovations to use. Businesses are also experimenting with partnerships with other businesses of different sizes and specialties to accomplish a single enterprise. Each company brings its own knowledge, expertise, and approach to the task.