Why Developer Programs Matter

It takes more than an API to attract and retain developers.

Developers are no longer solely required by technology companies. With these technical individuals embedded in companies across almost every industry, developer communities are now a key distribution channel. Understanding the strategic advantage of third-party developer ecosystems is critical for any business that wants to remain relevant. The operationalization of developer programs means new markets can be reached quickly, and with new capabilities deployed at a lower cost. Today, even more companies are trying to define what this opportunity means for their business and how they can inject their brand, platform, and tools into the developer world.

Developer programs impact many mission-critical functions across the modern business organization. These programs serve as sales enablement catalysts, expanding on traditional go-to-market strategies. Proven to accelerate disruption, as they employ the collective creative and technical power of the developer ecosystem. Tech companies have been leveraging the benefits of working with developers for some time,  and now those in different industries are beginning to understand the criticality of opening their value creation and distribution methods. By bringing third-party developers onboard, companies are better positioned to realize market opportunities driven by rapidly changing business requirements.

An API Isn’t a Developer Program

Word of caution: Launching a developer platform (read API) is not equivalent to starting a developer program. It’s not enough to create a great platform and expect developers to flock to it. While this might have been true for some of the big technology companies when they first introduced their platforms, this isn’t the case anymore. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of companies competing to get developers engaged. To establish a successful developer program, brands must clearly articulate their value proposition, understand the needs and motivation of each developer segment they aim to partner with, and have a well-documented and supported development workflow.

We define a developer program as a set of aligned marketing initiatives brought together to attract, connect, and incentivize developers to build using a product or service. These programs capture developer attention, let them know why you exist and help them realize the opportunities that come from building with your tools and services. Establishing this relationship with the developer community will, in turn, accelerate your time to market to new domains and industries and expand the creation of innovative solutions.

Not an Overnight Exercise

Relationship building takes time. You need to prioritize nurturing the community and showcasing the value added.  Take care to consider all the aspects of the program and marketing efforts to raise awareness. A guiding principle we subscribe to is to look at companies running developer programs as enablers of innovation, rather than the focus of it. It is imperative that the products, services, and tools made available for developers are of high quality and accompanied by a well-funded business roadmap. This will help build confidence within third-party communities. Beyond that, as we mentioned before, key developer marketing initiatives must be prioritized to deliver an exceptional developer experience.

Once a brand has these two core components in place, platform, and program, it must empower and get out of the way. Enable developers to achieve more and support their innovation journey. The positioning of the program will help the developer community to support your business goals.

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