Cloudinary Blog

The Human Side of Software Development

Doron Sherman
By Doron Sherman
The Human Side of Software Development

  • Part 1 describes the importance of engendering support from external developers to ensure success of innovative technologies.
  • Part 2 delineates what energizes and inspires developers.
  • Part 3 elaborates on two common mistakes that technology vendors make when planning strategies for winning over outside developers along with suggestions on how to get prepared.
  • Part 4 discusses the groundwork technology vendors must lay to win adoption and advocacy from external developers, and ways to connect with them and win their support.

Part 5 here delves into the dynamism in the professional life of software developers and, given that understanding, the strategies and attitudes technology vendors should embrace—to everyone’s benefit.

The Quest of Software Developers

A defining characteristic of the technology industry is that its nature is highly competitive, markedly more so than most other professional fields. That phenomenon largely stems from the fast pace and flexibility of software, which is seemingly in an unrelenting state of flux, with new tools and architectures emerging unabated: programming languages, frameworks, platforms, tools. All that vibrancy consistently attracts the usual suspects—talented, results-oriented, and self-driven developers who zealously thrive on innovation while on a perpetual tear to deliver on their jobs.

In fact, developers are always racing against themselves, their peers, and their industry. They eagerly participate in extracurriculars, such as community forums like Stack Overflow, on which experts tirelessly answer questions or exchange opinions. That enthusiasm stems from a craving for a sense of satisfaction that accompanies the sharing of expertise and ideas and that assuages our instinctive desire to learn.

Increasingly, developers are under no illusion that they can count on their employers to pave an advancement track for their careers. Rather, they’ve concluded that the initiatives that they take to connect and establish rapport with their comrades across the technological sphere are what will propel their career goals and aspirations. That’s why, as a priority investment for their future, many developers attend technical conferences, workshops, and the like on their own dime and time. Such self-reliance has become an effective means of staying on top of the latest and greatest development trends while building networks with like-minded engineers and architects.

Unending Challenges and Eagerness to Prove Themselves

To the extent that engendering the support and advocacy of external developers is a priority for technology vendors, the latter must bear in mind the following:

  • Your technology is in competition with other technologies that are clamoring for developer attention and championship.
  • Your paramount task is to identify your technology’s appealing aspects and explain them clearly and succinctly to the interested parties. Focus on personal touch, listen attentively for comprehension, and initiate interactive dialogues.

Those dialogues are your key to discovery and subsequent pursuit of networking avenues for information sharing. Last, but not least, attaining positive feedback through empathetic interactions often leads to prolific advocacy, the epitome of developer engagement.

Seek out testimonials from technical staff at customers, too. Even if some of those initiatives do not translate to revenue in short order, they might yield gains in long-term brand building and technology-adoption endeavors.

  • The old saw that the more we learn, the more we realize how little we know rings true. Because it breeds maturity, humility, and sound judgment, the quest to learn in the technology industry is a top motivator for those who are committed to furthering their careers there. The knowledge and expertise that they acquire enable them to build solutions that challenge them mentally, physically, and intellectually. And they are perfectly willing—even thrilled—to pay the price of being subject to unrelenting pressure to prove that they possess skills that distinguish them as leaders of the pack above the crowd and noise.

Empathy, Understanding, and the Right Focus

Nothing counts more than technology vendors’ empathy of the constant challenges developers face. As a framework for cultivating relationships and camaraderie with developers, that awareness constitutes the only effective way of collaborating with them for the long haul.

Remember, however, that developers tend to be skeptics and straight shooters who have little patience and no qualms about calling out BS. To win them over, ensure that you’re conversant with the nuances of their expertise and well versed in their lingo. Also, because they are continually on the go with little spare time, developers are keen to cut to the chase and zero in on what truly holds water. If something sounds too good to be true or smells wishy-washy, they would not only ignore it but also share their negative views with associates—often with their broader community.

A wise thing to do is participate in open-source communities, where developers with a common cause abound. Support them actively through all available means and cheer them on! Consider emulating the successful companies that capitalize on open source, earning brand awareness and even revenue as a byproduct that stems from collaborations. In fact, sophisticated enterprises have come to view the success of community developers who adopt their solution as being more important than short-term revenue. Two stellar examples are Mozilla and Red Hat, whose nimble business strategies have gone a long way toward empowering developers and reaping the benefits of their loyalty, appreciation, and endorsement.

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