Part 1 of this series describes the importance of engendering support from external developers to ensure success of innovative technologies. Part 2 delineates what energizes and inspires developers. Here in part 3, I’ll elaborate on two common mistakes that technology enterprises make when planning strategies for winning over outside developers along with suggestions on how to get prepared.
With no exception, understanding of an idea precedes having it resonate with the target audience. Specifically, to convince someone to use something new, you must first demonstrate that either it would work well with the other components of the process in question or the benefits are so remarkable that they are well worth the disruption and climb of the learning curve.
George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” All too often, as engineers work long and hard to build products and services, the background and nuances are transparent and well understood only internally among the team members, not by the outside world. That’s no surprise because, over time, organizations tend to gravitate toward creating their own unique lingo and jargon, complete with code names.
Before releasing a new technology, be sure to invest the time and expertise to produce a clear, well-organized, and well-formatted presentation of the related background and other important aspects, articulated in intuitive and simple language. That is, communicate with verbiage that promises to be well understood by the target audience who’ll adopt the new technology.
Right off the bat, the folks you’d like to rally are interested in what issues your new technology is addressing for them, not how cool it is. Often analogous to fluff, coolness is easily forgettable, let alone superseded sooner or later by the next cool thing.
The next question your audience would ask is how well the technology interacts with other software components. Forging a mental connection with your potential developer champions is paramount and you usually have only a narrow window of time in which to do so.
New technologies and products need validation, which requires concrete examples and demos that showcase benefits to which developers can relate and which could trigger a desire to dig deeper into the nuances. Take as an example optical character recognition (OCR), which extracts text through an examination of an image. Two use cases would immediately strike a chord:
Vision-impaired people stand to benefit, especially if OCR is integrated with a text-to-speech conversion capability.
When applied to traffic cameras, OCR can read license plates, which can then be compared against a database of stolen vehicles for alerts in case of matches.
So, the first and foremost task for promoting innovative technologies is to put together use cases for specific types of audience, such as companies whose attention and support you would like to attract. Once they like and care about what you’re spearheading, adoption is the next logical step.
In particular, build a use case that cogently and clearly manifests that—
- Your technology is integral to the food chain, seamlessly fitting in there and well integrated with other well-established components. The more you can ease the pain and challenges of integration, the more likely developers would want to try out your technology.
A good tip would be to band together with the early adopters in an extensive research effort to find out if other technologies work well with yours and to conduct tests in various environments. Closely monitor the progress and document the results.
In all cases, be vigilant, congenial, responsive, and proactive. Recognize and reward your collaborators, who might end up being long-time champions for your products and services.
- Your technology stands out as an exceptional solution for at least one of the important problems. In their day-to-day work, developers typically use a host of products and services: APIs, IDEs, frameworks, platforms. Does your technology stack well against those tools, warranting interest and a prudent evaluation? The answer had better be a resounding yes.
Absent those assurances, you’d be working in isolation, an all-too-common recipe for failure.
Once the groundwork described above is in place, you can start recruiting advocates, some of whom might even become mentors for your own developers in the long run. In the next post, I’ll recommend ways to do that and to incentivize your champions. The sky's the limit for the technology arena, promising stupendous tools, gratifying monetary rewards, and long-lasting camaraderie.
- Part 1: The Rise of Developers and Their Paramount Role in Software Adoption
- Part 2: Developers Succeed Through Learning
- Part 3: Avoiding Pitfalls While Strategizing Promotion of Technology Adoption From the Outside In
- Part 4: Questing for Technology Adoption and Advocacy by External Developers: Their Trend Is Your Friend