Workflow Lock-in: A Taxonomy

Roger C. Schonfeld, The Scholarly Kitchen, Jan 01, 2018
Commentary by Stephen Downes

"Lock in" is a business term that describes the effect of tactics that make it harder for customers to switch to another company offering the same (or even better!) products. "Everything from affinity programs, such as frequent flyer miles, to pernicious tying strategies that elicit antitrust scrutiny are forms of lock-in." This article provides a taxonomy of types of publisher lock-in strategies, though it should be noted that these could apply equally well to education (quoted):

  • providing exclusive benefits for mutual customers of a single provider’s many products
  • developing discrete services so that they are interdependent, or preferentially functional, with one another
  • data in context such that data cannot be reused with the same functionality elsewhere
  • institutionalizing services that are today already used by individuals

Note that even is some given service or product is free, if the provider employs these lock-in strategies it could have the effect or requiring payment for free goods. 

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