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to Linux Advocacy within Your Organization
has recently become the “darling” of Wall Street as financiers and
venture capitalists (VCs) flock to become investors in open source.
Industry giants such as IBM, Hewlett Packard, and Sun Microsystems
are aligning themselves as partners with it.
Given Linux’s growing public acceptance, Linux advocacy is more
important now then it ever was.
Advocacy is a powerful phenomenon/venue.
Despite recent, favorable exposure, it is time to increase efforts
for its advocacy, not lessen them.
advocacy is more effective than traditional marketing because there is
nothing comparable to personal recommendations for a product/service.
The cascading effect of word-of-mouth testimonials is what advocacy
does well – whether in an organizational setting or with an individual.
The effect of personal recommendations is exponential.
They build credibility as opportunities to have others listen to
your story truthfully delivered one-on-one.
If you are convinced of Linux’s virtues and value, it shows in
your entire being. Your
excitement is tangible to others in your voice, eyes, and demeanor. You possess the energy of someone who deeply cares.
Let your enthusiasm show when storytelling.
differs from mass marketing in its one-to-one focus. This smaller focus is more efficient and less costly than
traditional marketing. It
derives its power from building trust through personal interaction and
relationship built over time. You
have the chance to make a difference by becoming the trusted person people
will listen to with open minds and ears.
Never violate that trust.
The Advocacy Recipe
ingredients for successful advocacy are:
facts. Get them correct
and straight. Do not
“fudge” or stretch the truth.
Be the person who tells the truth.
stories told by a trusted individual are powerful.
Learn to relate your Linux stories by offering hard, first-hand
experiences that can not be refuted.
Become a beacon of truth.
You will stand out in a crowd and people will listen.
The relationships. Good
relationships surpass good marketing. Initially, win friends; eventually, reap converts.
Be someone who gives a darn and will go out of your way to help.
Earn the credibility others ascribe to you by making friends,
speaking the truth, and building relationships.
qualitative difference. Do
not spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt – the FUD factor.
Let that be characteristic of your competition.
Admitting that Linux can not currently perform a specific
function is “OK” since software development moves so rapidly.
Refuse to play the “fudge” game by speaking truth.
Focus on the positives open source offers such as less downtime
rather than repeating the “anything but Microsoft” (ABM)
How to be an Advocate
your goals – both short- and long-term.
Realize there is no need to advertise what they are. In the short run, work with what you have and with
whomever will listen. Get
people talking about Linux and its implications.
In the long run, gradually associate Linux with business plans,
profits, and a way of doing business.
It is no longer a hackers toy.
your timeline. Prepare
the necessary groundwork for receptivity towards open source.
Adoption of it will not be a quick sale or single, big
proposal. Invest your
available time into getting the proper information out to the people
who need it.
relationships. You are
the face of Linux to those you encounter.
Do not be afraid of your limitations; find answers when you do
not initially have them. Make
the extra effort to find answers.
This gets noticed and makes a deep, positive impression.
Linux compact discs (CDs) – free or at cost – into the hands of
technology users. As a
fellow technologist, you are trusted when you give them the tools of
the trade. Advocacy is
“easier” when potential users have opportunities to “test
drive” the technology.
for small victories. Solve
low priority or unacknowledged problems with open source solutions.
The power of open source becomes tangible when it eliminates
“status quo” workarounds. For
example, Linux has solved bar coding issues, printer queue operations,
and electronic messaging availability/retrieval.
your audience. Linux
offers operating system stability and flexibility that may be foreign
and unknown to them. Their
experiences have been strictly a world of system crashes and downtime. Their expectations about operating systems may not
comprehend the possibility that open source offers the reality of 24-7
today. The claim of “no
support” for open source software is often one where managers are
trying to avoid making a mistake, not one where the software is
managers that open source consultants come from respected industry
leaders such as Hewlett Packard, IBM, and Sun Microsystems as well as
from up-and-coming specialists such as VA Linux and LinuxCare.
The “secret weapon” of “official” business card toting
technologists refute the misnomer that open source is unsupported. Such prominent expertise helps mitigate management’s
fear of risk and uncertainty.
Finally, make a difference by being an advocate
wherever you may be in the organizational food chain.
No one can get others excited like you can. Start small. Solve
a few problems using Linux where corporate standards failed.
Tell the truth and avoid FUD.
In the end, Linux can change how we do business forever.
||Read More Linux Articles: Revolutionizing
Websites, Linus Torvalds on
"How-To's for Linux, New Age
Infoware - Open Source and the Web, Quid Pro
Quo: Why Software developers work for free, Meme
Hacking for fun and profit, Keys to Linux
Advocacy in your Organization, Red Hat and
Making Money with Open Source, Larry
Augustin on Open Source Solutions, Irving
Wladasky-Berger - Linux and Next Gen Ebusiness, Open
Source and doing business with the US Government, Configuring the Software
Development process on Linux, Public Domain
Software in a Proprietary world, Linux Perspective
from Marketshare Linux leaders.
Written by Judy Kong,
TechDivas Business Analyst, in a report on the Linux World Conference, Copyright 2000, Diva Networks, All rights