WIP Factory Conducts Annual Developer Engagement Survey

Business-to-developer marketing consultancy and API provider Wireless Industry Partnership (WIP) Factory — touting itself as the world’s first business-to-developer marketing agency — is seeking API providers to answer this year’s Developer Program Survey.

Last year’s survey showed that developer evangelists may be overly-focused on attending events and encouraging developer adoption at the expense of documentation. This can then create a bottleneck or poor developer experience when the new leads generated at events begin experimenting with the API.

Carlo Longino, VP of Developer Program Services at WIP explains:

“What stood out last year was evangelist and dev program managers’ response when we asked them what their biggest challenge was: they said it was finding developers! As we dug in a little bit deeper, we found a few reasons that helped to explain this. Many respondents indicated their programs relied heavily on events for developer outreach and engagement, but then also said they wanted to go to more events. If your developer program’s strategy is built around events, you’ve got to go to a lot of events —  which means a lot of nights, weekends, and travel!

Another point that stood out was the difference in how large and small teams of evangelists spend their time. We found that evangelists on smaller teams tended to spend less of their time on developer support than those on larger teams. This makes sense, in that smaller teams have fewer people to take on the wide range of tasks. But it could also be counterproductive: support is a crucial function of a developer program, and overlooking it can offset the results of the outreach people are spending their time on instead.

One thing that we are always interested in comparing year-to-year are those figures of how developer evangelists and developer program managers spend their time. Developer preferences and activity change all the time, whether it’s the channels through which they want support or the type of events they’re going to. Developer programs tend to lag in these changes, so it’s always good to see how programs are adapting and if they’re keeping up with developers.”

As all providers who complete the survey will receive a copy of the results, Longino sees this as an ideal opportunity to benchmark their activities and focus against their peers:

One of the biggest topics of discussion is benchmarking, even on a very casual basis. "What events are you going to?", "What CRM do you use?", "How do you balance traveling to events with being in the office and getting things done?", and so on. For programs, and particularly managers and those defining the developer outreach and support strategy for their companies, it’s useful to get an understanding of how your team spends its time relative to others, and gain some insight into where you can refocus your resources to optimize your results.

Last year’s study has helped WIP Factory identify new ways to support API providers. Longino gives the example of how API providers have had difficulties engaging developers on Stack Overflow and GitHub, leading to the building of the DevMonitor online tool.

This year, Longino thinks in addition to the boom in the Internet of Things (IoT) and hardware industries, he will see more non-pure play (online businesses) maturing in their API developer engagement strategies and is hopeful that the survey will glean some insights into how non-tech businesses are leveraging APIs and communicating with developers:

“We're seeing a lot of growth in non-traditional companies that want to engage developers, either to utilize their APIs, as part of an open innovation strategy, or in other ways. For instance, companies like Sears, which is one of the oldest retail businesses in America, and has an API program. They probably wouldn’t be at the front of a lot of people’s minds as an API provider or tech company, but they do billions of dollars of online sales every year. There are lots of other companies like them, whether they’re retailers or consumer brands, looking to engage with developers to drive revenues or bring in new products and services.

The other area I’d highlight is the automotive space. It presents a lot of unique challenges for developer outreach and engagement, but a number of companies are beginning to open up meaningful opportunities for developers to get their apps and services into cars.”

API providers can complete the survey online before April 20.

Be sure to read the next Developer Relations article: Microsoft API Strategy Headlines Build Developer Conference


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