Motivation for Open Source Contribution: Drupal in Academia

During this year’s Drupal-Con Baltimore, I was honored to be the keynote speaker at the Baltimore
Higher Education Summit. During the speech, I touched the thesis for my recently published dissertation
entitled “Motivations in open-source development: A quantitative study on Drupal in academia”,
published in the Capella Research Journal. This was the first dissertation manuscript to ever be
published in any academic journal specifically focused on Drupal, and the first major dissertation study
on the Drupal development community.
As major industries re-architect their technology platforms to reduce reliance on pricey proprietary
software that ties them indefinitely to less flexible models, the progression towards open-source
software has become the central focus of business strategy. This progression has been fueled by a
growing community of open-source developers that collaborate to design and develop innovative new
solutions that can be freely used to easily expand the existing functionality of their base systems.
As a result, companies can now continuously develop and integrate without restriction, allowing them
to redefine their web presence around their business strategy and desire to stand out from competition
rather than be defined within the bounds of canned solution.

The Results

This freedom has also lead to drastic changes in how web development projects operate within a team
structure, moving towards agile development cycles away from waterfall models, and incorporating the
customer more actively into the development lifecycle. This has led to increased ownership in the final
product by the customer and ensures that development is adaptable to fast changing business demands.
So what drives software developers to contribute to open-source for little-to- no direct compensation?
While software developers may be required to create or expand on existing open source components
for clients, many companies may restrict their ability to contribute these models back to the open-
source community for many reasons including claims of proprietary ownership on the final model,
concerns about security, and lack of resources to maintain the contribution in the future.

The Progression toward Personalization of Experience

The industry continues to move towards providing digital experiences that specifically target users and
their needs as individuals, rather than creating a traditional one-size- fits-all approach. As such,
customers become accustomed to expecting this across all their digital interactions, regardless of
whether you are a small business or a large scale site like Amazon.
This expectation means that in order to stay competitive, companies must incorporate dynamic user
experiences into their strategic business plans. That means more focus on converting anonymous users
to known users, increasing two-way consumer interactions through mobile platforms, and allowing the
insights gained through increased data and analysis on the consumer to drive business strategy.

How can we help?

By working with the team at North Studio, you can ensure your site is using the most cutting edge
methods of both capturing consumer data and ensuring your site is keeping pace with your digital
strategy. By incorporating search engine optimization practices, responsive design concepts, and

personalized digital experiences based on the user’s interactions with the site, your digital presence can
become less static and predictable, and more of a two-way conversation between you and the customer
that ultimately builds a personalized experience and tailors your corporate presence to each individual.