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Cultural DivideThis past year I have been involved in a couple of Joomla events attended by International developers. During conversations with Joomla! based companies from both sides of the pond differences about their clients became apparent. I learned that the European client is a lot more tech savvy about technology and open source in general than the North American clients.

European clients are more knowledgeable about the platforms

The European clients seem to be more knowledgeable about the different website software platforms. They make informed decisions about what is required and they seek out professionals who have specific skills in their chosen software.

The North American clients know less about the different technologies that are available. Their general approach to procuring technology partners is to put out a tender for their websites based on the functionality they desire.

Being better informed about technology helps you avoid mistakes

The weakness with the North American approach is that a company runs the risk of picking a technology partner that chooses the wrong platform for their project. The vendor/contractor may do this because they specialize in a particular platform that suits them and not the client.

When this happens the client winds up with a costlier website. More customization may be required to make things work or the company they chose is using a proprietary platform that has only a small number of developers supporting it. The client is now dependant on the health of their technology partner.

Being better informed about technology and the differences in the platforms will help a company avoid making the mistake of hiring the wrong technology partner. They won’t hire a firm that is good at Wordpress but tries to make it do things that would be better suited for Joomla! or even Drupal.

European Joomla! businesses spend less time pitching the platform

More time is spent pitching the Joomla! platform to North American companies than European Joomla! businesses do. I call this the cultural divide between Europe and North American clients. The European Joomla! development companies spend less time pitching the platform and more time working for their customers.

A recent personal experience with a North American client highlights this cultural difference. The company has a well staffed Information Technology department. Their corporate website uses proprietary technology and they are dependant on a specific firm to maintain it. They are frustrated by the relationship between them and their website technology partner because of how difficult and expensive it is to update their own website. A decision was made to bring the website in house.

The Manager of IT has the responsibility for choosing the technology of the website. They bought licenses for Dreamweaver. The manager insisted that Dreamweaver is the current standard for website technology in 2012.

I was given an opportunity to make a proposal to this company because I had done a microsite using Joomla! for one of their division product managers. The product manager, familiar with the corporate site, compared Joomla! to what they were doing and suggested they should consider Joomla! for their corporate site.

The Joomla! content management system would be a great choice

Their website has hundreds of pages of content and products. It is being done in static HTML pages. The Joomla! content management system would be a great choice for them. Despite my best efforts to explain the merits and benefits of replacing their corporate site with a database driven technology like Joomla! they rejected it. They had already made a significant investment in the website and instead of cutting their losses decided to forge ahead with Dreamweaver. This decision will cost the company a lot more to create and maintain their corporate website over the long haul.

The more informed you are, the more valuable you are

You'll make better technology decisions and pick more appropriate technology partners the more informed you are. You will be more valuable to your company as well.

North American companies need to catch up to European companies by becoming better informed about Joomla! and other open source technologies.

The better informed you are, the more success you will have with your projects

Maybe you are a North American client who is up to date on technology and know the strengths and weaknesses of the different open source platforms. If so, you are better informed than the general corporate NA culture and you will have more success with your projects.