Lee Bolding’s comment in the Magento certification discussion on Linkedin was too spot on to not repost:
…Certification would even the playing field a little – I see large agencies, with big clients and deep pockets, with no technical Magento skills, yet (somehow) they’re Enterprise partners. I see small outfits – just a few guys – with wizard Magento skills, but no exposure to either (Magento) Enterprise or larger clients. The end result is that large enterprise clients lose confidence, believing that the larger, non-skilled agencies are “the best of the best” (they MUST be, they’re partners!) whilst the smaller companies (with the wizards) fight to survive because they’re deemed to be unskilled (otherwise, they’d be partners).
Lee is right. Since I’ve talked with him a few times, I’m hoping that he is grouping Elias under that smaller “wizard” company label. We endeavor to do good work. We build complex extensions for Magento. And, quite frankly, we get hammered as a business on our bottom line. No joke. The thought of leaving Magento all together crosses my mind at least once a week. This consideration is fueled by conversations with agencies who make a killing off of other webwork that is, well, easy when compared to Magento.
Our best client in 2009 was an agency. They love us. They now hate Magento. So they stopped selling ecommerce projects to their clients because it was a pain in their butt. Building “regular” websites was more profitable. This is becoming increasingly common as developers forego the Magento learning curve in favor of easier wins.
Or is it a US thing? Magento isn’t as big here in the states as it is in Europe. A client told me that he estimates that there are maybe half a dozen firms in the US who are highly specialized experts in Magento. I know a Mage firm who bought a skype number for the UK and gets 2-3 calls/day from what seem to be higher end clients in Europe. Our module sales are stronger in France than in our own country, which might not be a bad thing since the dollar’s value seems to be deteriorating. We’re currently considering adding another storefront to our module store that is Europe specific to see what impact it has on sales across the pond.
Right now Magento feels like a mediocre hand in poker. Do you bluff your way through it or fold and cut your loses? Would forking over $5k to Varien to slap a professional partner sticker on the site draw in good clients who value Mage services enough to pay handsomely for them? I like Varien. I’m impressed after my conversations with Tim Schultz. I think Roy Rubin is brilliant. But can they create an ecosystem that provides a return on the investments from developers in the community? Jury is still out.