Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Recommendations/Iteration 2/Product & Technology/10

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Developing an Evolving Technology Vision and Strategy[edit]

Q 1 What is your Recommendation?[edit]

Build a role and a function in WMF board that has a product and technology background Have a governance structure that is tasked with overseeing Technology vision and strategy for the movement.

Q 2-1 What assumptions are you making about the future context that led you to make this Recommendation?[edit]

The software stack that is used to power our operations has evolved organically, now we must have a clear understanding how to stay current and have a future looking around technical requirements and product needs, allowing our technology to be an asset instead of a liability. In addition, if we continue neglecting our technology vision, it will end up in having a hard to maintain stack, and be late to deliver needed changes and features. We will also be unable to harness new and evolving technical opportunities to improve our products. The lack of product and technology strategic capacity and direction from the board and down will affect the ability to execute transitions and technological changes. The current governance structures tend to react to changes, versus leading them, or guiding the strategic directions needed, we are hoping that the suggested body will change that tendency.

Q 2-2 What is your thinking and logic behind this recommendation?[edit]

Currently the Wikimedia movement does not have a long-term strategy to evolve our technology for it to remain modern and relevant. The movement technology is dependent on libraries, programming languages and other components that are maintained by other communities and organizations. This provides great efficiencies, but also risks and missing strategic opportunities as the vision and future of those pieces can change. Technology that was relevant in 2001 is not necessarily relevant today and is even less likely to be relevant in 2030. It is important to develop a capacity of product and technology background within the WMF Board of Directors and within the movement as a whole to be able to anticipate these changes and provide a vision of where the architecture of the technology is going to guide this work. Without a clear vision the goal of decentralizing would be difficult or impossible to do effectively.

Q 3-1 What will change because of the Recommendation?[edit]

By developing capacity for architectural strategy vision within the movement it will be possible to better assess risks and react accordingly in addition to recognizing opportunities while better planning resources to make needed changes.

Q 3-2 Who specifically will be influenced by this recommendation?[edit]

The WMF will be influenced by this to develop strategic capacities within its board of directors. Affiliates and developers will have a more clear technical vision to align with through the development of strategic technical capacities. Technical contributors in the movement may be tapped to help contribute on an on-going basis to the vision.

Q 4-1 Could this Recommendation have a negative impact/change?[edit]

If the right balance between ensuring the sustainability of our technology stack and developing new features is not balanced there could be a negative impact of not being able to respond to new user needs effectively.

Q 4-2 What could be done to mitigate this risk?[edit]

Appropriately resourcing technology improvements and architecture development.

Q 5 How does this Recommendation relate to the current structural reality?[edit]

Currently the WMF is positioned to execute on this vision but is not resourced appropriately for it to happen. The current composition of the board does not require technical expertise in specific backgrounds, so that should change, as the largest segment of the foundation is product and technology workforce.

Q 6-1 Does this Recommendation connect or depend on another of your Recommendations? If yes, how?[edit]

How this recommendation would be executed would be dependent on what is decentralized and over what timeframe, thus it is dependent on Evaluate and Decentralize Technology Components.

The technology vision and strategy must be grounded in movement values and have wide acceptance within the movement; thus, this recommendation is supported by the Movement Technology Ethics Advisory Panel and Open Product Proposal Process (or rather an expanded version or replica of that process).

Q 7 How is this Recommendation connected to other WGs?[edit]

The recommendation is to build longer-term technology planning capacity within the WMF and its board; as such, it is within the scope of Capacity Building as well.

This recommendation may be influenced by Resource Allocation’s recommendations, because to act on this it would require adequate resources. Roles and Responsibilities also could influence the execution.

The Partnerships recommendation “Partnership framework for harnessing modern technological developments” would probably be hard to implement without having a more coherent long-term tech strategy.