[Plone-conference] Openspace: growing plone

M. Harito Reisman harito at haritomedia.com
Mon Oct 20 22:55:53 UTC 2014

I was quite shocked to read this simplistic view from Steve. The 'good thing' is, it triggered me to put down my thoughts in words and getting involved in the discussion.

Where exactly is the value you provide with sophisticated integration at a high cost? 

> simplifying at the cost of the ability to handle
> sophisticated integration, not so great.

Increasing Plone installs does not drive down developers price point, these are two different issues. One issue is the marketing of the product Plone, the other issue is the marketing of a Service Provider, probably a specialized service with a consumer-marketing in mind. 

Service Provider Marketing:  (addressing Steve and Héctor)

Profitability comes from share of wallet (customer share verses market share), customer loyalty and cross-selling (in this case adding specific or more complex custom functions).
As a service provider you position service/brand to meet exactly the needs of a narrow (segmented) target – providing a highly specialized service, and therefore can set a price target higher than average. 
Also I think to set the target to clients that demand high-end/clean code, to market segments that demand high levels of trust (banking sector, government), plus an ability to accurately understand stakeholders (really understanding your customers' needs), adds to the value delivered; and value delivered sets the negotiation for price target. If you deliver value over time, the customer stays loyal, which ads profitability.

Plone Marketing: (addressing Plone the product)
In 'production orientated' marketing, profitability comes from market share, profitability meaning growth, which leads to more contribution (from the community), more revenue for Plone foundation, and a broader market foundation for service providers. Plone's positioning as 'trusted' by large scale firms might be jeopardized  because of thinking such as yours and others that think in a similar fashion, which severely limits Plone's potential to expand and become more valuable in the marketplace.

Customer Value
The first principle of marketing, "Customer Value" is a critical point at this time for the Plone 'product'. 

If the base costs for a Plone site is very high, Plone becomes a much harder sell! What are the values the customer gains to make up for this? One value is certainly the 'security' card. What other values do customers get with Plone? Workflow, Roles and Groups. But wherein lies the balance of value and costs. Where is the break point of value verses costs? If providers have to hire a programmer to add a simple thing that is easy on virtually every other platform than Plone, with inflated working hours for that small feature, where is the fair value? Companies consider to go elsewhere than Plone.

Plone is in a sense a strange product, because out of the box the product is not providing much value in comparison to a rapidly progressing market, one needs added services available from Plone service providers to keep up, which increases cost and inconvenience. Customers consider this a downside for Plone (the product). Because the customer is highly dependent on service providers. And working with service providers requires trust and loyalty as the main ingredient besides fair value expectation. 

Trust and loyalty
Let's not underestimate the "trust and loyalty" factor, since using Plone creates a high dependency on Plone service providers and is in my experience a main decision factor for or against using Plone. A Plone programmer (service provider) holds immense power over the system. As a service provider you might think that's great, you're the key keeper, but as a customer you might chose another system because of better established and/or trust worthy programmers availability, or because other systems are not so extremely programmer dependent. (To illustrate this point, i.e. a customer might feel hostage by the programmer if the site's server has a restart, which shuts down Plone. The Plone site is down because it would have needed a customization to add a code of line to restart Plone automatically after a server shut down. Trustworthy programmers will add this line of code even though it's not on the work order (and in reality it should already be in the install base). 

Fair Value
Lets assume that trust and loyalty is achieved... and talk about fair value expectation. The question is does Plone meet the fair value expectation (if not the customer rejects it) and on which dimension does Plone deliver excellency to what targets? And considering that expectations of fair value change over time, during the last 5 years the range of features that are expected as a given from a CMS or DMS or collaboration platform have increased dramatically… Question, is Plone behind the curve on delivering fair value in relation to market developments and customer expectations?

Or, since Plone without a programmer doesn't make sense, do we need to analyze Plone+ServiceProvider as a package, which puts the responsibility for fulfilling  customer expectations on the developer side, which as you indicate you do don't want to provide in the install base? It's like to acquire a watch, and to keep it running and on time you also need to hire a watchmaker. The value of Plone is directly related to standard marketing equations and thinking like yours makes Plone fall behind the curve of matching value expectation.

In my understanding those are the relevant questions for analyzing and developing Plone's marketing strategy – not the pretension/delusion that their is no competition and that WordPress is a bottom dwelling product…. because in reality WordPress is great! These are critical issues to review and reconsider.


Harito M. Reisman

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On Oct 20, 2014, at 12:58 AM, Steve McMahon <steve at dcn.org> wrote:

> I don't mean to be argumentative, but a goal of simply increasing our install base isn't a very interesting one to me. If I wanted to simply increase my number of clients, I'd take on $500-a-site jobs competing with the bottom-feeding WordPress market. And then what I'd want from Plone is to make it easier to churn easy jobs. I wouldn't really care whether it could do complex themes, subsites, good security, workflow, or sophisticated authentication.
> Since I'd like to make more than $25 an hour -- which is what a lot of WordPress developers make around here -- I want to do the difficult stuff. The kind of sites that the bottom-feeder market isn't very good at. So, I'm looking at Plone to be well-differentiated from that kind of platform. Making Plone easier for the end users is great; cleaning up the API is great; simplifying at the cost of the ability to handle sophisticated integration, not so great.
> On Sat, Oct 18, 2014 at 7:57 PM, Dylan Jay <djay at pretaweb.com> wrote:
> Open minded discussion on what we should change about plone the product to increase its install base. What will the people will look like who, in the next 10 years, will create sites using plone 6 and beyond? What should we change about our direction now (if anything) to attract these people?
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