I was at the J.Boye Content Management Conference last week in Philadelphia. It was also great to say hi to Alex and his team over at Zivtech in Philly. The conference was mostly attended by CMS users from bigger companies, mostly in traditional businesses such as finance and pharmaceutical. Most of these companies still focus on using proprietary systems such as Microsoft Sharepoint and Ektron. Seth Gottlieb (who used to work at Optaros) were pretty much the only people with a great deal of Drupal/open source exposure at the conference.
One of the presenters is Wyeth, the pharmaceutical giant and WestJet, the Canadian airline. From speaking with both of the presenters and other conference attendees, I have found that there is a misconception about Drupal:
1) Drupal as an open source technology causes vendor lock-in: a lot of major companies think that by using open source technologies, they will be stuck with that solution without an easy way out even if the solution does not work. This is definitely not true because open source technologies allows anyone to look at the database structure and the source code, such that export scrips can be created easily. Also, there are tons of consultants that specialize in multiple open source technologies thus making it easy for companies to switch when needed.
2) If something is wrong with the site, then there is no one to call for support. This is definitely not true. With open source solutions, there are tons of people to call for support. In fact with a proprietary solution, a lot of times, there is only 1 person to call. Nowadays, for Drupal support, they can call Acquia or many Drupal developers out there.
3) Open Source technologies are not secure. The truth is that there a way more people testing open source platforms than most proprietary platforms. As a result, security vulnerabilities can be identified much more quickly.
So with these misconceptions, how can we the Drupal community help these organizations understand the truth about Drupal and open source technologies in general?
1) Better marketing collateral: a lot of the Drupal shops who I know, including ourselves do not have extensive marketing information packages comparable to that produced by the proprietary vendors. Corporate users usually rely on these collateral for board presentations where the higher ups make decisions on what CMS to use. This puts us in a negative position. As a result, we need to arm ourselves with better marketing collaterals with more information that compares us with other CMS solutions, instead of just identifying the features available.
2) More Targeted Marketing: the proprietary solution vendors are really great at presenting their solution such that it appears to be catered towards the specific industry. For example, some vendors will have information that is just meant for 1 industry. We need to better structure Drupal.org information and case studies such that potential users can see the application of Drupal for their industry/organization type. We do have a great list of case studies but we need to better structure the information.
3) ROI Information: proprietary vendors are great at telling potential buyers about the ROI (return on investment) of their products. We need to start presenting this information in the case studies. This will help the corporate users convince their bosses on why they should use this system. If you have other ideas that you want to share, please feel free to comment.
P.S: thanks for all your comments on our last blog post. It was meant to be a fun joke. We actually find it really cool that we do have a Drupal song and that we are all spreading the love for Drupal.