From 3 to 5 May the Drupal business days were held in Vienna. On the first day there was a CXO event. You can read a summary of that in a previous blog post. In this post I will give a summary of the sessions on 4 and 5 May.
Keynote Robert Douglass
We started with a keynote by Robert Douglass, which was titled: The future is bright, the future is Drupal. It was a very optimistic session about the current position of Drupal in the CMS landscape and the direction Drupal is going.
Drupal is beating all the major CMS's from the big companies out there like Fatwire and Adobe Q5. The competitive landscape is changing. The big players win some bids, mainly because they are capable of delivering the complete stack including CRM and ERP systems etc., but in the Fortune top 100 there are 8 Acquia customers, so it's safe to say Drupal is gaining in the enterprise world. Drupal is running 2% of the web, the best 2% of the web!
Enterprises like Drupal because it is versatile and flexible. It can provide solutions for almost all use cases like a main website, an intranet, micro sites, social platforms and more. Drupal is a great platform to make optimal use of reusing code and make the time to market shorter. We all know the success stories of NYSE, Al jazeera, Symantec etc.
Some predictions for 2012:
- The business ecosystem grows. You see a lot of mergers and acquisitions.
- More evidence of entrepreneurial efforts filling niches. The number of distributions is growing.
- Drupal will get a leading role in mobile. There are a lot initiatives that will help this in Drupal 8 like the web services and HTML5 initiatives.
- Companies will work together to fill the gaps in the front-end and user experience. There is a project initiated called Spark that will be the Pressflow for UX in Drupal 7.
So when can we have all this? According to Dries a realistic estimate will be August 2013.
Why use Drupal to empower your e-Commerce site.
Drupal is very flexible system and using it to power your e-Commerce site will give all the freedom to make a shop exactly suited to your needs. On top of that you can use it to have a lot more than just a shop. You can use all the great features of Drupal in your site. Everybody knows that content is king. This is also true for a shop. So why not use a kick ass content management system to power your shop.
The Commerce Guys have worked hard to make the Commerce module as flexible as Drupal and make it conform to the Drupal way of thinking. This means that you have all the flexibility to tinker it to your needs. You get a lot of features of Drupal for free that you might miss out on with another system like reviews, ratings, groups, profiles, tagging, filtering, user generated content, integration with Facebook and Twitter, multilingual, mobile friendly, etc, etc.
The Commerce module is very flexible but not very easy to start with. There is a kickstart project to help you get started with Commerce. And there is a plan for a Commerce distribution to make it even easier to set up your shop.
Some sites that using Commerce right now are Royal mail, McDonalds, Carrefour, Monopoly, Decathlon.
Upgrade your offer
This session of Jakob Persson of Nodeone was about really understanding the needs of your clients. At Nodeone they use an agile way of working, which has a lot of advantages to get the real needs of your clients on the table. Drupal shops are often the last link in the chain. So you get your information from the design agency, which got it from the IT manager, who got it from his manager, who got it from the real stakeholder. This is a recipe for disaster.
You have to talk to the right person, the real stakeholder, and find out what he really needs. Bring everybody together so that you are on the same line. The end user should always be available to talk to.
A very good idea is to write the requirements as effects. Make sure they follow these rules:
- Requirements are concise
- Requirements are measurable
- Requirements describe a long term effect
When defining the end-users don't think in terms of job and age etc, but in terms of needs, expectations and behavior. There are a lot of tools to get to know the real needs and behaviors of the end users like:
- focus groups (although they tend to agree mutually and can be biased)
- task analysis
From this you can get the user goals. Break these into actions and write your user stories from there.
To know how well you succeed in meeting the users needs you have to measure the success of them in achieving their goals. For example with interviews, surveys, log-files etc. In that way you can show your customers the added value of your approach.
Changing the way of working is essential for a lot of Drupal shops. You see that a lot of Drupal shops are changing from a “Nuts & Bolts” approach to a project management agency. The next step will be to go to a business oriented agency. You have to try to move from fixed requirements to business goals in order to really help your clients.
An interesting idea came up during the session to charge for the added value you provide instead of the hours worked. I like that idea.
Multilingual sites with a click (TMGMT)
This session was about the Translation Management Tool. It's an interesting tool to give you an overview of everything that has to be translated in a site and has a pluggable architecture for translators. In that way you can choose how to translate different portions of the site. For example with an automated translation tool of Microsoft, with a downloadable file or through a paid translation service.
Content is a problem in a lot of sites. Most of the time the content is not ready on time. Working with multiple languages makes this even worse of course. You easily lose the overview. This module could be really helpful for that.
You can find the presentation here.
The real value of open source: ROI and beyond
This was a talk of Jeffrey McGuire a.k.a. Jam about the true business value of open source. After the obligatory success story of Drupal he gave some real benefits of using open source in your organization. He showed the true value of open source with the 4 freedoms.
Free to use it
Using 'free to use' products in your business, means you are in control. Compare this to the following: if you own your own restaurant, no landlord can raise your rent. The downturn is that the cost of ownership is never zero: you get the product for free, but after that, you have to take care of it. Just like 'free puppies'. You only spare the license fee, not the other costs.
Free to study it
Open source is completely transparent, which does not mean it is better or more secure by default, but that a large number of people are constantly checking and fixing problems. This is also the case for Drupal, and it is pretty secure.
Free to modify it
You are free to make any change you like. You can get it done, whatever it is. Proprietary software might not have your wishes on the roadmap. With open source you can do it yourself.
Free to share it
You can stand on the shoulders of giants. By sharing code you save yourself a lot of work. Ideally every bug or problem is only fixed once. Share it and it will become better, use the community. On the way it helps other people too!
Growing and managing Drupal organizations
This session of Janne Kaliola was about managing and organizing a growing Drupal company. A lot of shops are growing because the demand for Drupal is increasing. This can lead to some problems in the organization if you are not prepared. He gave good and clear session with some handy pointers like:
Know where you want to go. What part of the website chain do you want to cover?
Hire the right persons. Coders suck at selling.
Hire nice people. Nobody wants to work with assholes.
You can find his slides here, which give a good summary of the presentation.
The business days ended with a party in The Albertina Passage, a new club in Vienna next to the Opera. And being in Austria, Jam had brought his carbon fiber Alphorn. Of course, he had to play that in front of the Opera. We were treated to a live concert at 2 am!
It was another great Drupal event! The only thing that could be better is to get more people from outside the community to this kind of events. It was a business event, but 90% of the attendees were 'the usual supects'. It is of course nice to see each other once in a while, but in my opinion Drupal would benefit a lot more from this kind of events if the public is more diverse.
I want to thank all sponsors for making this event possible, the attendees for being there and Propeople for organizing.