Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Some previous ideas about building new ecosystems around free software projects (IV)


After the previous three articles about very basic previous ideas to take in consideration before designing an engagement program for organizations, we need to think about what are going to be the concepts to base our program on.

To have a better chance to succeed, we have to build our program on our strengths and not on our weaknesses. In order to identify those strengths, I've made a simple SWOT diagram.

This entry will describe the major opportunities and threats I see that might affect to our plan of building new ecosystems with organizations.

Opportunities

  • Free Software culture expansion.
  • Desktop – web relation.
  • Free Software business models success.
  • KDE has millions of users.
  • KDE cross platform strategy.
  • Software everywhere.
  • Increasing market pressure over Universities to include free software topics.
  • Free Software seen as strategical for by many countries.

Free Software culture expansion: more and more organizations are interested in crowd sourcing techniques and in collaboration processes like the ones we use for software development. Movements like Open Data, Open Gov. Free Culture, copy-left, Free hardware, etc. are strongly related to the free software culture. Some of those movements are interesting for many organizations. A community project like KDE can expand his influence to other areas.

Desktop – web relation: interaction between the desktop and the web, along with the irruption of small devices, can allow us to expand our influence to the web world, where many organizations are extremely interested.

Free Software business models success: more and more organizations, specially companies, are developing free software business models where upstream collaboration is seen as a good value.

KDE has millions of users: KDE have millions of users so we are a good target for organizations that wants to reach them.

KDE cross platform strategy: KDE is a multiplatform and multidevice project. There is a shiny future ahead of us if we keep pushing in the current direction.

Software everywhere: software is becoming strategical in many industries. Free Software is becoming popular is most of them. KDE has more and more open markets every year.

Increasing market pressure over Universities to include free software topics: since free software is getting popular in IT industry, the pressure over Universities and other Education organizations is much bigger than in the past. This mean that the cost for KDE to find potential contributors will decrease.

Free Software seen as strategical for by many countries: more and more countries are defining national IT strategies around free software due to political, social and economic reasons. This will open us new markets.

Threats

  • Classic Free Software threats like software patents, closed formats, etc.
  • Key players without a clear and stable strategy.
  • Increasing our relations scope.
  • Management.
  • Resource dimensioning.

Classic Free Software threats like software patents, closed formats, etc: KDE and any action we take toward building new ecosystems with different types of organizations are permanently threatened by them.

Key players without a clear and stable strategy: because of different reasons, many stakeholders that traditionally or lately have been supporting KDE, change their strategy often. Although KDE has proven in the past to be good at isolating the impact produced by them, tensions might increase in the future.

Increasing our relations scope: KDE has been very successful at attracting technical contributors and other non-profits related with free software. It is not clear that we can extend that success to other type of organizations.

Management: KDE will face some management challenges in the near future due, among other factors, to the growth rate it is experimenting. Increasing the ecosystem to other type of organizations will stress even more the actual management resources.

Resource dimensioning: overload takes any organization through many non desired consequences like quality decrease, internal tensions, expenses, management inefficiencies, etc. Like in any community project, properly resource dimensioning and control is specially difficult, since our community is formed mostly by volunteers.

Isolation from the free software-business relation: KDE, like other free software communities haven't been in the past very interested in the business side of free software. We are more technical focused. The increasing economic success of free software will force us to put energy into this area to avoid isolation.

Yes, there are probably many more, but I hope most of them are somehow included in these ones. Otherwise, feel free to add more through comments to this blog post.
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