I think you're right re. techies providing key inputs to decision-making. That, for me, is the critical issue here. If quality e-learning is about technology enabling learning then the default starting point for decision-making must, surely, be the integration/collaboration/interface between technology and education/learning, between people who are driven to meet pedagogic challenges with the help of technology.
Increasingly, but perhaps still too slowly (?), the very term techies might go out of favour to be replaced by learning techies (and that can be interpreted, rightly I believe, in at least two ways!). At the University of Glasgow, where Moodle has just recently been adopted at the centrally supported 'VLE', that decision would not, I believe, have ever come about without the significant input of 'learning techies'. Those technological experts facilitated the Moodle-enabled learning that non-techies (academics) wanted to develop and/or thought just might be possible. Without significant time (and hence resource not least that 'saved' by not having to purchase licenses) spent on the interfacing/dialogues between learning technologists and Course Teams (Tutors) then nothing much would have happened.
The two 'sides of the coin' are mutually dependent our learning technologists played, and continue to play, an absolutely vital role in the development of e-learning materials and learning support but without academic buy-in then we'd have no courses to run, save those of early adopting technophiles. Nothing, I think, is quite as persuasive as reality and as success. Moodle allowed us, literally, to walk the talk. Academics then talked what they'd walked. Learning technologists are no longer seen as a breed apart but as a related species working for the same ends quality learning. Those in positions of power, the third key element of the 3-D coin, thus heard of Moodle from all directions and, critically, were able to 'see' it in action. Moodle allowed us, in a remarkably short time, to deliver what we have, for years, been saying was possible. If we don't 'attack' from all directions, bottom-up, top-down, technological and educational, then I think we'll not be able to advocate successfully for the appropriate adoption, use and continuing investment in Moodle.
This, of course, is all a somewhat long-winded way of saying that I believe advocacy and decision-making must be premised on the construction of understanding of starting from where people are of accepting and respecting a multitude of differing imperatives and motivations those of techies, non-techies, managers, academics, schools, colleges, universities etc etc. To do that and thus to publicise, debate and share our understandings, expectations, and future dreams with anyone who might listen sits happily with the underlying philosophy of Moodle doesn't it? To that end we might even think of opening up more space here, in Moodle.org, for decision-makers and for learners using Moodle? Additionally, I certainly believe that folk like me (not techies, not even learning technologists) need to be a little more courageous about contributing to this community. Whatever let's ensure that all are included and that we try, between us, to spread the word that Moodle's about inclusive communities comprising and enriched by technologists, educationalists, and managers, by individuals working together to meet the exciting, if occasionally daunting, challenges of e-learning? Better together? Better advocate on all fronts and at all levels?
If you look at the other CMSs, Blackboard started going directly to IT managers, CIOs and CTOs while WebCT stayed with faculty (like Moodle). Unfortunately, even though WebCT is the better product, Blackboard started making lots of wins much to the dismay of many faculty because IT only saw the technical advantages and not the pedogological advantages.
Something to ponder...
When I tackle the question of "how do I sell to a market" (which seems to be the essential question we are asking here...if I understand things correctly?), I find it strategically useful to definition my goals and market targets. (Alas, after making some stabs at definitions, after investigating the markets somehow--test selling included--one usually comes back to adjust their goals/targets. ) Of course, I may be preaching to the choir here...so forgive me if I seem rather redundant or presumptive.
I would be very interested in something like a Moodle charter/mission statement. Maybe this already exists?
This would help me figure out where Moodle wants to go. From there, I might have a lot more concrete and actionable thoughts on what to do to get there.
Without a charter statement, though, I could take educated guesses on some of this stuff based upon what I've seen with the software and in my conversations with Martin et al.
Some *extremely brief and speculative* thoughts (I'm new to this whole world, and I'm sure others will have a more-experienced perspective):
The sweet spot for Moodle right now seems to be larger-scale academic course administrators (teachers, TAs, etc) and drifting into the smaller-scale academic areas. There do seem to be some business market uses, but they seem (from what I can tell) to be in the smaller/fringe business area.
I don't see Moodle with a lot of mind share of the "bigger" decision makers, like University Deans/Vice Presidents. I also do not see big Moodle footholds into the bigger Corporate world (which is where I'm trying to apply it), either at the low/mid level (where I'm at) or the "high" level (CEOs, Vice presidents, CIOs, etc).
Moodle seems to serve itself well at these "low/mid" levels.
Tacking the "high" level decision-making market/mindshare might be pretty tough. I think it would take some time and investment and strategic definition.
I think I can comfortably say that there is a large opportunity in the bigger corporate space, because comparable learning-management systems seem quite expensive ($1k, $10k, $25k are prices that have been thrown at me; usually the renting option seems more attractive).
I guess my summary answer to the initial question is another question: what are our goals and whom are we trying to target...now and in the future?