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The war for talent

According to JP Rangaswami, managing director of BT Design, there is a war for talent, and the most open companies will be the winners.

According to JP Rangaswami, managing director of BT Design, there is a genuine war for talent.

JP Ranagaswami Dan Farber

But the way to attract talent isn't with the most money or best perks but through openness, he said, speaking at Supernova 2008. Companies need to be open to competition, such as partnering with competitors in some areas; open to innovation in terms of creating an environment that encourages new ideas; and open to changes, Rangaswami said.

The talent pool comes from both inside and outside a firm. "Open, multisided platforms are the only way to get to the talent pool," Rangaswami explained. "Once you assume you are in a war for talent, the root to competition is network-based and multisided in terms of supply chain, partners, customers, competitors, and employees," Rangaswami said. "It means you have to set up an environment where all can participate, which is exactly the sort of thing that works without lock in. The way to keep an ecosystem in balance turns out to be the value a community brings."

As part of the value of openness, BT is exposing its assets to the market openly, with widgets, SDKs, and Web services, and investing in open-source projects. BT acquired Osmosoft, the maker of TiddleyWiki, in 2007. It had one person and no assets, but an open community laden with talent, Rangaswami said.

"The issue is being able to connect to people, and to lower transaction and repair costs. The market is about network-based competition...about institutions and relationships, not about businesses and portfolios. We have to be able to reengineer who we are," Rangaswami said. "The talent coming out of schools today will make choices based on which firms have the most open and transparent set of values. Openness means having no place to is changing the way we think. It is no longer an option. It's an ecosystem rather than a set of hierarchical things."