UK State of Open Report Finds 97% of UK Businesses Surveyed Use Open Source Software

OpenUK, a WordPress-powered not-for-profit company, has released its State of the Open report with data from the UK in 2021. The company advocates for open source software, open source hardware, and open data, while providing a central point of collaboration for people working in the open sectors.

The State of the Open report offers a broad overview of the UK’s open source ecosystem. This collection of research includes surveys of UK companies, interviews, industry reports, and analysis from different publications. It was sponsored by GitHub, SUSE, and the Open Invention Network, and conducted by Smoothmedia consulting firm under the direction of ethnographer and social researcher Dr. Jennifer Barth.

Key findings in Phase 1 of the report include research demonstrating that open source software contributes an estimated £43.1 billion to the UK economy, with the UK ringing in as Europe’s largest contributor.

Phase 2 covers open source adoption in the UK. Researchers found a staggering 97% of the 273 UK businesses surveyed use some form of open source software:

We found that 97% of businesses of different sizes in all sectors of the UK economy use open source software technology. Although resources became a more pressing concern during the pandemic, 64% of businesses in our sample experienced business growth which translated into a high recruitment drive for roles relating to open source software in the past 12 months (see recruitment findings). Further, we find that almost half of businesses surveyed (48%) are using open source software more as digital adoption becomes embedded in organisational culture and business.

Other key findings from Phase 2 include the following:

  • 53% of non-tech organizations contribute to open source software projects
  • 77% of UK public sector looks to open source for skills developmen
  • Over half (54%) have written policies and processes for open source contributions
  • 89% run open source software internally in their business
  • Approximately two thirds (65%) contribute to open source software projects

One interesting observation from the contribution data is that smaller companies are more likely to contribute back to open source than larger companies. Smaller companies are also more likely to use open source software in their businesses.

Survey respondents cited “saving on costs” as the main reason for adopting open source (75%), followed by more collaboration (72%), skill development (64%), the quality of code (61%), and security (52%).

Phase 3 is planned to be published in September 2021. This report will focus on UK data with a methodology tailored to reveal the value of open source software to the digital economy. It will also include case studies that demonstrate the non-economic, intangible benefits of open source software, such as skills development and collaboration.

The published reports are lengthy but will be of particular interest to companies working in the UK and Europe, especially consultancies that may need to justify using open source technologies in engineering decisions. OpenUK plans to conduct a further survey in 2022 as part of this effort to estimate the impact of open source on the UK economy.



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