June 2013 Download this article as a PDF

Welcome to the June 2013 issue of the Technology Innovation Management Review. In this issue, our authors present insights about open source business, technology entrepreneurship, intellectual property, process ambidexterity, and risk management.

Michael “Monty” Widenius, the founder and original developer of MySQL and MariaDB, and Linus Nyman, a doctoral student at the Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki, Finland, propose a new type of software license, which they call "business source". A business source license seeks to enable a business model that can both harness the benefits of open source while generating sufficient income for the program’s continued development. The business source license automatically changes terms after a given period: an initial non-open source license with specific usage restrictions that transforms to a fully open source license on a specific future date. In their article, Widenius and Nyman describe the rationale for the new license, offer recommendations for managers, and provide a sample text of a business source license.

Next, a team of authors from universities in Spain, The Netherlands, and Germany, describe their research into the opportunity-objectification process: how technology-based business ideas evolve into real market opportunities. Ferran Giones, Zhao Zhou, Francesc Miralles, and Bernhard Katzy conducted a field study of six technology-based entrepreneurs that are pursuing complex and uncertain technology opportunities in Spain and China. Their key results highlight the influence of social interactions in accelerating the objectification of an opportunity; these interactions play an important role in transforming the entrepreneur's and stakeholders' perceptions of the initial business idea. The findings have implications for academics, policy makers, and entrepreneurs.

Derek Smith, founder and principal of Magneto Innovention Management, argues that entrepreneurs can accelerate the early growth of their companies by acquiring and leveraging old intellectual property and technology assets. Through a case study of Piranha Games' acquisition of technology assets and intellectual property rights relating to the MechWarrior game, Smith explains how this often-overlooked strategy can short-cut the growth of a customer base, reduce development effort, and shorten the time to market. The article includes lessons learned from the MechWarrior case, recommendations for entrepreneurs who are considering this strategy, and a due-diligence checklist for activities that should be undertaken when acquiring intellectual property assets.

Paul Renaud, Sheppard Narkier, and Sonia Bot provide a framework for sustaining improvement in a firm's IT capabilities. They apply the principles of process ambidexterity to identify the key elements required for sustainable change within the capabilities that comprise the IT function of the firm. Their framework delineates the capability domains that will need to evolve, while providing a means to introduce changes, ensure implementation, and measure success. This article is designed to help senior IT executives that seek to systematically transform the IT function and enable IT entrepreneurship within their firms.

Alan Mcnaughtan, a Product Manager at Bell Canada, provides an overview of the skills of product managers and their roles in early-stage businesses through his answer to the question: "Do technology startups need product managers?" Mcnaughtan argues that startups that bring in a strong product-management leader early in their lifecycle will have a high probability of success. Through a brief case study of Wesabe, a failed personal-finance website, Mcnaughtan demonstrates that insufficient attention to product management – and the resulting lack of understanding of customer needs – can be fatal to a startup.

This issue also includes a report on a recent TIM Lecture by Paul Card, Director of R&D at Seccuris, who drew upon his experience as a programmer, entrepreneur, and professor to reflect upon the importance of leveraging uncertainty and managing risk when developing a technology platform in a small company. The event was held at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, on May 1st, 2013.

In July and August, we will be covering the theme of Cybersecurity, and our guest editor will be Tony Bailetti, Director of Carleton University's Technology Innovation Management (TIM) program. If you have expertise in cybersecurity and wish to contribute an article, please contact us.

Finally, you may recall that several articles in our April issue on Local Open Innovation focused on the Seeking Solutions approach to solving challenging business problems, which arose from a series of Quebec Seeks Solutions events. The 3rd Quebec Seeks Solutions Conference will be held in Quebec, Canada on 5-6 November 2013, and the conference theme is: "Methods and Policies Creating a Local Ecosystem for Technology Transfer, Collaboration, and Local Innovation". The TIM Review is selecting submissions for the pre-event, and the best papers will be published in a future issue of the TIM Review. Abstracts are due June 28, 2013. Please consider submitting a paper to this conference and sharing this call for papers with your contacts.

We hope you enjoy this issue of the TIM Review and will share your comments online. Please contact us with article topics and submissions, suggestions for future themes, and any other feedback.

Chris McPhee

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Keywords: case study, intellectual property, IT function, open source business, process ambidexterity, risk management, software licenses, startups, technology entrepreneurship, uncertainty