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Marketing of Subversion

From: Bob Jenkins <rjenkins_at_collab.net>
Date: 2005-03-29 17:18:28 CEST

Let me briefly introduce myself to this group as a preface to my comments to follow. My name is Bob Jenkins and I am a Senior Product Marketing Manager at CollabNet. I came to CollabNet after 5 years with Rational working in the field doing pre and post sales work with ClearCase and ClearQuest primarily. I've now been at CollabNet nearly 4 years with most of that time spent in pre and post sales work. For the past 6 months, I have been working in product management and marketing with one area of emphasis being Subversion (an obvious fit given my background). I probably don't need to explain CollabNet's interest in Subversion, but the one point I'd make is that has at least two facets. The most obvious facet is the development itself as demonstrated by the group of engineers dedicated to this project; and the effort spent internally to determine what functionality we want to focus those resources upon. The second is perhaps less obvious, but nonetheless critical, and that is the marketing of Subversion itself. We truly believe that the more successful the Subversion project is, the more potential CollabNet has to be successful as well.
It is that second facet that prompts my first correspondance with this audience. I have watched with great enthusiasm the tremendous rate of acceptance Subversion has experienced since the launch of version 1.0 more than a year ago. I have seen the project move from being an incubator of a great idea through being a fledling, hoping for some small measure of validation, to a tool experiencing widespread adoption. I have seen the community begin to realize this change in many ways like the recent discussion of a "whole product" vision. There is a need to re-examine the positioning of Subversion within this project itself to better relate to the diverse audience it now serves. There is a maturing of the tool and its position in the software development arena which needs to be reflected in the content of the site. I won't try to tackle the "whole product" vision discussion here, but start with just a small suggestion.
One example of the need for some maturation (in my opinion) is the link in the left navigation to "Testimonials", which takes you to a page intended to help people "persuade" their organization to try Subversion. The linked page itself is entitled "Subversion Propoganda" ( http://subversion.tigris.org/propaganda.html) rather than "Subversion Testimonials". Propoganda may have been an appropriate term before Subversion 1.0 and even a few months afterward, but I think that Subversion's solid and growing position as a version control tool renders that concept obsolete. I also think that propoganda leaves the wrong impression for some, and I would like to suggest that "Testimonials" be used as a consistency with the link itself. I realize that the page also contains a listing of open source projects known to use Subversion, but I think that fits the broad category of testimonials as well.
Beyond this small change, I would also suggest that the community begin to consider changing the marketing strategy proposed by this "selling" approach. Given the large and growing user community, I think that a bolder stance that assumes Subversion's validity as a version control offering, but offers "references" to organizations and enterprises using Subversion, better acknowledges Subversion's position in the version control market. Testimonials still have a role, but Subversion has earned its place at the table and should present itself accordingly.
I hope my suggestion is taken in the spirit in which it is being made. I want Subversion to market itself to the broadest possible user community and to be successful in doing so.
Bob Jenkins
Senior Product Marketing Manager
Office: 770.977.5508
Cell: 678.296.0491
Received on Tue Mar 29 17:19:42 2005

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