Detroit speech: What are your secrets worth?

Blogs, open-source and the networked world should lead companies to rethink their policies on secrecy
Stephen Baker

I'm flying to Detroit tomorrow to give a talk about blogs. My preliminary idea, based on our discussion about blogging my notebook, is this: What are your secrets worth? Just about every company has had standard practices for decades or longer to protect its secrets. But the rise of blogs, open source, and the networked world should lead them to re-evaluate their secrets, because many of them have stored value. They could be used to forge relationships, either with customers or other companies.

This is just the bare bones, and I'll have to put some meat on it over the next day. But the essence, as Rob Hof wrote in his cover story is openness and sharing. If I tell you my secret and you tell me yours, together they might turn into something very big. In a sense, this was IBM's idea in opening a trove of its patents. Of course, IBM kept a firm grip on most of its patents. Some things you don't want to share. But just the way we're rethinking the privacy of our notebooks, everyone should question whether they're getting enough value from their secrets.

If anyone has examples to bolster, refine or demolish this line, please send them along.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.