The SWOT Analysis is a tool to provide a self assessment of a project/organization/venture that provides useful output to help on the strategical planning of the very same project/organization/venture. This was the very first challenge I proposed myself when I joined Fedora Marketing Team. I've chosen to do this for several reasons, being by far the most important of them the fact that I wanted to understand the project.
To better understand the Fedora Project it is recommended to understand the 4 Fedora Foundations, which provide the basis of the Fedora Project identity. Another relevant document to understand the Fedora Project is the current developing version of the Fedora Marketing Plan which presents interesting information regarding several factors of the Fedora Project, some of this interest factors are:
There are other interesting factors that are introduced in the Fedora Marketing Plan, but I will focus only on the three mentioned above because they are the most complete and relevant for the upcoming contents displayed on this document.
A SWOT Analysis is a diagnostic tool used by Marketing Management to evaluate a project or venture strategically and that should provide output information to solve existing problems or to provide strategical guidance through possible threats or opportunities. To better understand the concept behind the SWOT Analysis we will provide a simple example to work as a metaphor for easier understanding of this process.
Some of us in our free time like to go fishing, even if it is casual fishing. When you go fishing there are factors involved, some you can actually manipulate, while others you can only act upon them. Imagine the following:
- The factors you can control - this is everything you have direct influence on, for example, your baits, the fishing pole and the place where you want to go. All of this you can define it by yourself having in mind that your objective is to fish something. The quality of the bait and the fish kind you want to fish is important for the outcome of your fishing session, the same could apply for your fishing as you won't use a small river fishing pole to go fish on the sea, or even the time you choose to fish. All of this you can control to handle the outcome of your fishing venture. In Management and in Marketing also, this set of factors are usually called Internal Environment, and it stands for everything you can directly control. This qualify in Strength's and Weaknesses. As an example, it's a strength to use better quality bait, while it's a weakness if you use lower quality bait.
- The factors you can not control - this set of factors you can't control, but you need to act upon them as they influence your fishing venture. For example, you can not control the tides, but you can select a time of the day when the tide is favourable to you. Off course the tide has influence for the success of your fishing venture. In Management and Marketing we call this set of variables that you not control, just act upon as External Environment and it qualifies as Opportunities or Threats. For example a low tide if you go fishing by boat is a threat to your fishing venture, while if it is a high tide, it's an opportunity instead.
For this SWOT Analysis we are contemplating the following:
- Internal Environment - Composed of Strengths and Weaknesses, all factors that can be changed or ruled by the Fedora Project. We will evaluate them according to the 5M methodology which is based on 5 topics: men, machines, means, measures and methods, keeping in mind 3 key concepts: Quality and Management, Performance/Performance Improvements and Technology.
- External Analysis - Composed by Opportunities and Threats, this are the topics that the management can't directly control, just act upon. This are evaluated under the following topics: Political/Legal Factors, Social/Demographical Factors, Technological Factors and Economical Factors.
In a third stage, the SWOT Analysis presents a conclusion which is the relation of all the data analysed previously and will outcome in a set of measures to apply in order to correct any problems detected or act upon possible threats and opportunities.
The main goal behind this SWOT Analysis is to provide the Fedora Community and Fedora Project with a method to perform future SWOT Documents. It was thought to comply with the methodology proposed and to provide a valid practical document easy to modify according to future needs. There is also some academical value on this, as the present document tries to explain some concepts so that the Fedora Community can understand why we do this, how and why it is relevant.
The Internal Environment Analysis is a self assessment of the Fedora Project based on all the factors that the Fedora Project can control directly. From this Analysis we will identify factors that will classified under Strengths or Weaknesses. This factors are to be taken into consideration related to the following aspects:
- Quality and Management
- Performance / Performance Improvements
For the Internal Environment Analysis we will take into consideration the following:
- There is a product called Fedora Linux;
- Infra-structure (physical and intellectual) for this analysis is a part of the 'product' Fedora Linux;
- The group of people, sponsors, contributors, enthusiasts, etc, behind the 'product' Fedora Linux is the Fedora Community;
- The audience is defined by the information on Fedora's Marketing Plan.
The Fedora Project manages many synergies around it, some of them are Strengths, factors that provide positive synergies for the project.
The topics presented bellow are identified as related to Men in the scope of manpower. The human masses behind the Project Fedora that design, develop, package and distribute Fedora Linux. This include paid and voluntary contributors.
Sponsorship - Red Hat Inc.
Red Hat Inc., the main Fedora Project allocates manpower to work directly on the project, in much responsible for the good results of the Fedora Project. The commitment of many Red Hat employers bringing many time enthusiasm and motivation to the Fedora Project is one of the most positive signs of this relation. In many ways the success of the Fedora Project and Fedora Linux is based on this relation. The involvement of Red Hat Inc. is a decisive factor for the success of Fedora.
The Fedora Project counts with hundreds of volunteer contributors in all of sub-projects under the Fedora Project coordination. Besides behind part of a wider community, many volunteer contributors dedicated hundreds of hours of their spare time to improve many aspects on Fedora; from the upstream contributors, marketeers, writters, editors, designers, artists, etc, the contributions of this volunteers bring new synergies to the Fedora Project and help taking Fedora Linux virtually to any part of the Globe. The commitment of Fedora volunteer contributors results in very positive synergies on Fedora Project, allowing it to have a strong and growing community worldwide. It isn't incorrect to assume that much of Fedora Project success results from this commitment from the Community.
The Bazaar Model
Robyn Bergeron introduced me once with The Cathedral and the Bazaar. The model described in the Bazaar is outstanding. The proof that the most sceptical would require are long given. In a matter of manpower this model provides an outstanding solution to fast and feature rich development. This is without doubt the element that solved the manpower problem for many applications, and that still does. We should not underestimate the Cathedral building. Another interesting point is that this model of development does provide powerful motivational forces on the community. The success of this 'upstream model' is also reflected in the success of Fedora Linux.
With a symbiotic relation with the Ambassadors Team, the Fedora Marketing Team places efforts in providing the community strategical guidance, support services to several other teams working on the project and many cases a bridge between Fedora teams in a very professional way. The commitment of the Marketing Team in promoting the Fedora Project and it's values on the community can be judged by the general perception of Linux users about Fedora: the ultimate development distribution. One of the major reasons for the Fedora Marketing success is bridges created between Fedora Marketing and Ambassadors with other projects from the FOSS universe, establishing cooperation lines for FOSS promotion and interchange of know-how and manpower.
The L10N Project is responsible for translation and localization of Fedora Linux and Fedora Infra-Structure for at least 40 different languages worldwide. The contributions on this area are a Critical Factor for Success, and despite many times the work from this contributors remains unnoticed by the wider audiences, they provide one of the most important strategical factors for user base increase and market penetration.
The Design Team is responsible amongst other things for the theme and many graphical aspects around Fedora Linux; counting with a vast number of contributors they provide a unique visual identity to Fedora Linux and outstanding output in production of various graphical aspects of the Fedora Project. It is to mention that their work in other fields, specially on Marketing is value added to the Project Fedora as it is used by many other parts of the Project, i.e. Marketing, Ambassadors, Engineering, etc.
Quality Assurance Team
The Fedora Ambassadors is one of the key elements of the Fedora Community providing first line public relations amongst the community, with other FOSS communities and local communities. The commitment and passion of Ambassadors is translated by the Fedora Community itself. Not being only a strength, the Ambassors Project can be considered a Critical Factor for Success.
Events (FAD's, FUDCon's, etc)
The amount of events where the Fedora Project itself or Individuals are present.
Fedora SPINS are a key element in the Fedora Project, their own existence already translates why Fedora is the election platform that many choose for more localized projects. Delievering strategical content into targeted audiences and strategical niches, Fedora SPINS allow the Fedora Project to be represented in a wider universe and in many cases providing new bridges to the community. Not only are they a strength by their own nature, but also due to the commitment of contributors keeping a growing flow of new technological flavours and trends into the Project.
Free Media Program
The Free Media Project was started is currently run by the [https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Ambassadors Fedora Ambassadors. The nature of this initiative is probably one of the most charismatic symbols of Friends and Freedom. It is important to mention that there is a thin bridge with the Design Team that provides support work based on many media contributions.
Public Mirror System
The Fedora Project has available a public mirror system from which Linux users and enthusiasts can download Fedora Linux from a closer location. This allows the Fedora Project to distribute their product sharing load and bandwidth through hundreds of download points located worldwide. It is to mention that this public mirror system is an outstanding channel of distribution for Fedora Linux.
Infra-Structure! Do we have someone providing exciting contents?
The Fedora Project has thousands of contributors worldwide which actively work every day performing several tasks within the project. While some areas are attractive, others are hard to get spontaneous contributors. There is no qualitative study to describe the reasons that in some cases trigger interest and in others do not. Fedora needs more contributors to maintain it's self sustainability.
Critical Factors for Success
- Voluntary Linux Consumer - Though the Fedora Project defines clear positioning and differentiation, this might not be clear to all users specially because the promotion lacks of many details regarding about this. To successfully increase penetration rates amongst this users it is imperative that positioning and differentiation is a part of the message, this can be done through comparative advertisement or using a more subtle approach. Though the Fedora Foundations provide good information regarding positioning and differentiation (and considering that Fedora Linux inherits the notoriety of Red Hat as a part of it own), First and Features might not be enough to translate the correct message about it's positioning and differentiation.
On one of my first approaches to the Fedora Project, I was told that other FOSS communities like openSUSE and Ubuntu were 'friends' sharing work for the same goal, FOSS. It is unclear to me on how to perform this goal without facing other distributions as competitors. This is a reachable goal, but this specific segment demands Fedora Linux to engage other distributions as competitors and 'battle' for this so called Voluntary Linux Consumer.
- Computer Friendly - In most cases this computer friendly concept applied to a Linux user will be deeply related to other kinds of users, for example the Voluntary Linux Consumer. It is vague enough to provide acceptable results if correctly approached and promoted to this audiences.
- Potential Collaborator - This segment can be faced as a sub-segment of any of the other segments presented by the Fedora Project. This is interesting as it denotes the need of the Fedora Project to become self-sustainable based on it's users. If enough efforts are placed on this field to provide easy ramps to the Fedora Project, either by Ambassadorial work or Team oriented, virtually any Fedora user can become a potential contributor in any of the sub-projects provided by the Fedora Project. Once more it's a reachable and realistic goal.
- General Productivity User - The Fedora Project presents this segment as an uncomplicated and too vague segment. I find this therm misleading and can be harmful in the future.
This topic, the future user base displays 4 segments of Community that are deeply inter-connected between themselves, and in most cases can through one you can fulfill others. From the strategical point of view this segments are so close to each other in some cases that merging them into one could actually provide a better effort to rally methods and means to successfully hit that audience with the correct promotion.
User's Perception: Fedora Linux
User's Perception: Fedora Project
The Fedora Project inherits much of the notoriety of it's sponsor Red Hat Inc., and it's generally faced with comfort from the audiences it targets. The reputation of Fedora Linux and Fedora Project amongst their user base can be generally understood as a excellent.
Channels of Distribution
For any organization to deploy it's products successfully it requires good channels of distribution. In this field the Fedora Project's efforts have been wonderful and everything just works, on either providing software DVD/CD ISOs and also as deploying improvements and software updates.
- Online Software Repositories - Fedora provides an online update feature through YUM repositories.
- Public Mirrors Network - The Fedora Project provides a network of public mirrors that allows Fedora users to download Fedora Linux from the closest location possible, or any other by users choice.
- Free Media Program - Fedora provides Fedora users with free media through the Free Media Program. This is a great way of deploying Fedora Linux in events.
- P2P Networks - The Fedora Project runs a torrent tracker to allow a better deployment of Fedora Linux through P2P Networks. Torrent Server provides access to this great download alternative.
- RPMFusion - Though RPM Fusion isn't in direct control of Fedora, it's symbiotic relation with the Fedora Project allows to extend the contents offered by Fedora Linux.
The External Analysis provides a good tool to analyse potential strategical mesuares or plans. One of the most common approaches is the PEST Analysis. Many of the methodology will be irrelevant to the nature of our community, which doesnt actually rely much on strategical decisions, though I believe that we can diagnose what seem to be relevant at least on the moment.
Analysis and Proposals for Action
Software is general is perceived by some as a product, by others as a service. This approach considers Fedora Linux as a 'service' which is consumed whenever the user runs Fedora Linux to satisfy his needs. Looking into Fedora Linux from the scope of Marketing, this also includes all the services that support it or contribute to its creation.
Time and Place
Productivity and Quality
Communication and Education
Price and Costs
Files available for download related to this SWOT Analysis: