Power to the People
Proprietary tells others, this is our sandbox and you’re not allowed to play in it. And while it may protect your product, process or system, it also seals you off from the outside world. But as Steven Johnson proclaimed in his TED Talk, Where good ideas come from, “We take ideas from other people…we stitch them together into new forms and we create something new. That's really where innovation happens…You have half of an idea, somebody else has the other half, and if you're in the right environment, they turn into something larger than the sum of their parts.”
Open source software communities are the digital environment where such innovation flourishes. Unlike traditional commercial software, open source programs can be modified by anyone and are often developed as a community of passionate individuals, rather than by a single organization. It’s widely accepted in the technological community that projects developed in an open source community end with a much better product than any one company could have done in a proprietary format.
At State Street, our open source eyes are looking at everything from security, storage, orchestration and more. We are also heavily invested in distributed ledger technology.
As one of the world’s largest custodians, we’re subject to an incredible amount of regulations and oversight. If we’re going to leverage something as critical as blockchain to modernize our infrastructure, while also ensuring we comply with every regulatory body, we need to understand what’s happening at the most granular level. The best way to do that is work directly with the people who have written the whole thing from top-down.
In an open source community, everyone and anyone can contribute equally.
That’s why we suggest and sponsor blockchain projects within the open source community. By opening up the development process, we gain access to great minds and talent outside of State Street and give them the power to drive the projects they’re passionate about. This in turn helps boost innovation. The Harvard Business Review found that “Six behaviors…unlock innovation across the board: ensuring that everyone is heard; making it safe to propose novel ideas; giving team members decision-making authority; sharing credit for success; giving actionable feedback; and implementing feedback from the team.” The New York Times corroborated this by reporting that “the most important ingredients for a smart team remained constant regardless of its mode of interaction: members who communicated a lot, participated equally and possessed good emotion-reading skills.”
In an open source community, everyone and anyone can contribute equally, and the collective power of the group creates and maintains code far more effectively than a handful of dedicated programmers ever could. And we know that the more diverse a group is, the more likely they are to come up with working solutions. In an open source community, good ideas can and do come from anywhere because there is no knowledge hoarding – it’s all out there for those who want to use it.
At the moment we have a few dozen contributors in our open source community. Some of these members have submitted entire subsystems to the project, while some only did a few lines of code. As the community’s maintainers, we know who is contributing and what they do and how good they are at it. We can look at every new contribution and evaluate if it’s worth accepting into the latest version of the software.
Our end goal is to update our infrastructure to support the evolving needs of the financial community. So let code be viewed and analyzed! When you build a good infrastructure you can create a better financial fabric on top. And with an open source community working toward the same goal — simply making better code — we know we can get there.
1. Staff, N. (2014, June 27). Where Do Good Ideas Come From? Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2014/06/27/322920914/where-do-good-ideas-come-from
2. Sherbin, S. A. (2014, August 01). How Diversity Can Drive Innovation. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2013/12/how-diversity-can-drive-innovation
3. Woolley, A., Malone, T. W., & Chabris, C. F. (2015, January 16). Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/18/opinion/sunday/why-some-teams-are-smarter-than-others.html
Moiz Kohari is a senior vice president and chief technology architect at State Street. In this role, he is responsible for the enhancements to State Street’s digital enterprise architecture, and the creation of the next generation digital enterprise that delivers on-demand secure computing capabilities, driven through machine learning paradigms and all pertinent fin-tech disruptive technologies. He can often be found rock climbing in Indian Creek, just outside Canyon Lands National Park in Utah.