Open source provides a way for CIOs to invest in new system development without coding themselves into a corner. According to Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, enterprise users of technology are catching on to something the ISVs have known for a while now -- that if you develop in an open source model and other companies adopt what you develop, you have a higher chance of longevity in the code base. In other words, you can develop a custom solution to a unique business problem with less fear that your solution will turn into a dead-end legacy system when things, inevitably, change in a few years. Milinkovich also sees more CIOs banding together with industry peers to develop common open-source solutions to standard industry processes, thereby saving money by sharing costs and ensuring interoperability.
This was the first I've heard of a real top-down, CIO-sanctioned investment in open source for either innovation/competitive advantage on the one hand or industry-standard common good on the other. Milinkovich pointed to a few companies as examples -- in particular, Deutsche Post and Boeing. But he said none of the analyst firms had tagged this as a trend yet.
If you know of IT organizations that are systematically using open source as part of their innovation strategy -- or collaborating with industry colleagues on projects -- I'd love to hear about what they're doing and why.