Evans Data Offers Insights on Today’s Changing Face of Developer Relations
As companies scramble to embrace opportunities in mobile, APIs and social streams to improve IT and business competitiveness, Evans Data Corp. finds these technologies should change how companies should interact with developers – both internal enterprise devs and outside communities. IDN speaks with Evans Data CEO Janel Garvin.
by Vance McCarthy
"We see a real change in the industry as companies are now realizing they are going to have to expose APIs and recruit developers to remain competitive."
As companies scramble to embrace opportunities in mobile, APIs and social streams to improve IT and business competitiveness, Evans Data Corp. finds these technologies should change how companies should interact with developers – both internal enterprise devs and outside communities.
“With a developer program, there are many important elements and best practices that must not be neglected,” according to Evans Data CEO Janel Garvin. IDN asked her to share some tips on how companies can avoid some common pitfalls as they work on programs to support devs.
Some tips may be obvious, such as not to make it too hard or time-consuming for outside devs to sign up for your dev programs. Other less obvious ones are becoming more important to the overall success of a dev support program, Garvin said.
One of the latest tips Garvin shared is not to assume everyone is accessing your site from their PCs. Garvin put it this way: “It used to be so simple. Developer programs revolved around their websites and the only thing you needed to worry about was supporting the most popular browsers. It’s not so simple anymore. Just as mobile devices have impacted and been adopted by most everyone on the planet, so have they been adopted by developers.”
We wanted to know more about this shift from PC to mobile devices. So we asked Garvin if even as smartphones and tablets have become must-have equipment for devs these days, don’t these devices with small screens and tricky keyboards make it tough to have full and rich engagement with devs? For example, isn’t getting code samples, downloads, even documentation a bit difficult without a PC or laptop?
Garvin’s response illustrates the importance of “out-of-the-box” thinking when it comes to keeping up with dev expectations. “Most development programs now have some social elements, such as forums, blogs and areas where developers can interact with each other. These are the obvious first choices for enabling on mobile devices,” Garvin told IDN. But she quickly added there are more ways to provide engaging user experiences for sought-after dev.
“Some sites have also gamified various program features, awarding points, cash or other forms of recognition for everything from coding contests to answering question better than everyone else. That type of features is also easily accessible with mobile devices, and may appeal to developers when not coding or even at work,” she said.
We also asked Garvin about another huge trend in app development – the explosion in the use of APIs. How is the increased awareness and even hunger for easy-to-consume APIs impacting a dev relations program in 2013? Garvin shared that her research into dev behaviors, wishes and wants reveals that the trends in APIs are reverberating in many areas that will impact the success of a dev relations program.
“In our research among mobile developers, the use of APIs from multiple sources is very common. This is particularly true of cloud storage APIs and network APIs from carriers. Use of search, communication and geo-location APIs are also at the top of the list, but there are many more,” Garvin told IDN.
“We see a real change in the industry as companies that have never had a direct interest in software development are now realizing that the future is going to be built on software, and that they are going to have to expose APIs, recruit and maintain developers, and actively develop and promote a platform in order to remain competitive – regardless of what industry they are in,” Garvin said.
In fact, the influence of APIs is increasing across industries including retail, health care, automotive and more, she said. Research at Evans Data shows that execs in all these sectors are actively taking steps to establish and keep connections to independent devs more than ever in the past because these execs see that these outside devs can help companies build innovative software, Garvin added. “But it's not enough to publish an API and hope for the best,” she added. “A robust developer relations program surrounding those APIs are essential. A developer community needs to be nurtured and grown and fleshed out with support offerings, as well as interactive features and tools.
For more on pitfalls and advice on how companies are handling their dev outreach in 2013, Evans Data is offering a complimentary download to a special report entitled “Five Pitfalls To Avoid in a Developer Program.” Download the report here.
For more in-depth research, Evans has also released Developer Relations Best Practices, based on actual primary research and designed to help companies that are new to software development put together solid programs. More info on Developer Relations Best Practices is available here.
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