When I started working with Drupal, I was impressed by how developer friendly the community and the software were. Twelve years later, as my role and responsibilities in our business changed, my opinion of who should Drupal cater to also changed.
Drupal would not be what it is today without the hard work of many developers who devoted their (mostly free) time to build the core framework. Even more important are the products in the module ecosystem that address real business problems, enabling the cost reduction of developing complex solutions. During the last ten years, I learned how the community feeds the software and how software feeds the community - quite literally. There are thousands of households around the world that rely on the fact that Drupal stay relevant in the world of software. But who is making sure Drupal will remain relevant?
I could romanticise about free and open software, but that alone will not enable Drupal to survive neither to grow. Some people believe the quality of code and innovation will drive the growth in the following years. I think the lack of quality and innovation will slow down or stop the growth, but it's not a factor for "world domination". But why do we need to grow? Can't it just stay as it is? Well, in the world of business growth is a necessity. VC money is poured into everything that is growing, and since our open software has a significant share in the "websites market" there are thousands of startups looking to take that away, slicing our piece of the pie until there is nothing left.
So what can the Drupal community do to continue growing? Let's try to look at Drupal as a privately held startup. In the Business Model Canvas, there is a big box reserved for Partnerships. Growth for Drupal means more websites running on Drupal, but Drupal as a startup can't work with all of the customers and employ thousands of developers to implement millions of sites per year.
Hubspot, for example, has built many tools for SMBs, but they soon figured out that those customers are self-serving only to a certain point. But some businesses are happy to help companies with marketing while getting paid for their efforts. Marketing agencies, digital agencies, branding agencies, and similar businesses are integrated into their local market or have great insights into industries and verticals. They understand what clients need, as they fight in trenches, sometimes losing the battle but always learning. Hubspot is leveraging agencies to grow their product adaption and implementation.
Like Hubspot, Drupal relies on the success and growth of agencies which are using the software. In the past, Drupal opened doors for many many agencies to win big accounts. Today the situation is a bit different as clients are overwhelmed with technology to a point where they mainly look for a partner who will achieve business goals and the software has become less relevant.
The community is already doing an excellent job by promoting Drupal agencies on Drupal.org, and now we will see a lot more. Just by looking at Hubspot, as an example, I see what we could do more and better. I do hope we can step together as a community, put aside that we are direct competitors. Even more, we must be open to inviting even more competition to our community, organisations that will introduce next-level of professionalism into our community.