My Notes from Developer Relations Conference

March 26-27 I attended a Developer Relations conference hosted by Evans Data in Palo Alto, CA. I was a good conference, with great content and speakers. The conference probably had about 100-150 people which I really liked.

These are my notes from sessions and keynotes I attended. Again, these are my notes and what I was able to write down and not necessary what the presenter said/showed.

Anatomy of an Amazon Alexa Evangelist
Paul Cutsinger, Amazon – Head of Alexa Voice Design Education

  • You have to love to teach
  • You have to love to travel
  • Workshops == training
  • Send internal newsletter to show what you have been doing
  • User feedback loop
    • Important to be in meeting with product and tell them what works and what doesn’t work

Virtual Event ROI: Experiments and Learnings
Cliff Simpkins, Microsoft – Director, Azure Developer Marketing

  • Developer events
    • What has worked well
      • Focus more on in-person value, less on deep content
      • Do lecture for an hour
        • Do 15 minutes lab
    • Setup your labs so that developers get the “ah-ha” moment
    • Community events
  • Bringing engineers/experts to places that don’t usually see them
  •  Anti-hackathon
    • Tell about the hack upfront and help with the last “mile” of the project

Future Directions for Developer Relations and Developer Technologies Panel
Michael Aglietti, ThingWorx – VP of Developer Relations
Mithun Dhar, HERE – General Manager Developer Relations (Evangelism, Marketing, Engineering, and Product Management)
JJ Kass, Dropbox – Head of Developer Programs
Lothar Schubert, GE Digital – Director, Developer Relations


  • How do you measure KPIs today?
    • Lothar
      • Active users
      • NPS
      • The key is to make progress
    • Mithun
      • Good KPI – time to first “Hello World”
      • How easy to get started
      • How good is the documentation – old but time tested!
      • Revenue
  • What is a developer today?
    • JJ
      • Citizen developers, hobby developers, internal developers, external developers
      • A person a trying to solve a problem with Dropbox
      • We are not just targeting a software developer
    • Mithun
      • Many years ago the dev. was well defined
      • Students, hobby, enterprise dev.
      • A developer is who is successful on your platform
  • How do you think Dev. Relations will change?
    • JJ
      • Old way
        • Get more API calls
        • Do more events
      • New:
        • Enable developers to build innovative solutions with Dropbox
        • Hired a Data Science to look at trends
        • Meeting
          • Sales – Product – Dev. Relations == new feedback loop
    • Lothar
      • Establish Developer Relations as an accepted practice in an organization
      • Best practices
      • How to run Developer Relations, Developer Programs
      • Marketing will learn a lot from Developer Relations
    • Michael
      • Developer Relations —> new voice
    • Mithun
      • As more organizations are becoming platform companies —> Developer Relations role is becoming more ubiquitous
      • More organizations will start investing Developer Relations
      • Hackathon fatigue

IBM and The Developer Economy
Jonas Jacobi, IBM – Head of Developer Advocacy, Worldwide


  • IBM has long history with developers
  • Long history of open source
  • 70k developers that might work on open source
  • IBM transitions
    • Hardware —> services —> software sales —> software as a service
  • Enterprise sales (old way)
    • Top down
      • Selling to senior executives
      • Most large enterprise companies sold this way
  • Change needed to work with developers
    • Not easy to change how 400K people think
  • Very difficult to be a CTO of a company to know everything and have a clear understanding what is needed
    • The decision has been pushed down to developers
  • How do you convince senior executives?
  • Developer Relations should genuinely care about developers and their success
    • We are building trust and respect with developers
    • Not a short term commitment
  • How do you measure success? KPIs?
    • No KPIs!
    • Build trust, relationships, developers love our projects
    • Put a KPI on a mission – then everyone will gravitate towards that KPI
  • Active Developers
    • Developers active for more than 30 days
  • What can I do to make any give developer a hero? Not sell to them.
  • IBM Developers Advocates
    • Developers
    • 50% spend writing code
    • Working hand in hand with developers, communities and clients
  • Engagement strategy
  • Federation model
    • Get other Business Units to participate in Developer Advocacy
    • Can be 1 day a year or 1 weekend a year

Starting a Developer Program Begins with Data
Mike Guerette, Red Hat – Global Developer Program Manager

Two books recommendations:

  • The New Kingmakers, by Stephen O’Grady
    • I read this book and it’s great.
    • This is a great book for anyone (not just Dev. Relations people) who wants to understand the the new world where developer are the influencers
  • The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, George Spafford

Building Sticky Relationships with Developer Experiences
Lothar Schubert, GE Digital – Director, Developer Relations / Product Marketing

  • Why developer marketing
    • Not yet an accepted practice in this space
    • Need to explain what is Developer Relations
  • Developer deal influence – excellent slide!
  • A happy developer will share his/her experience with other developers!
    • Make sure it’s a positive ❤️ experience!
  • More developers than ever
    • Full stack
    • Data science
    • Citizen developers

Developer Relations “Fireside” Chat
Guy Kawasaki, Canva – Chief Evangelist


  • As an advocate you are probably an evangelist and if you are an evangelist you are advocating
  • For product to be successful, a company can’t do it by itself, it shouldn’t, not optimal
  • Evangelism is a sub-set of sales
  • Evangelism
    • Making other people successful
    • You can sell a product – good or bad
    • You can only evangelize good products
      • Positive, clear conscious
    • Evangelism is about helping other people
    • Developer relations is easy for awesome products
      • Developer Relations is hard for crap
    • It’s about making other people successful using your products/services

Digging Deeper: Understanding Developer Motivations
Michelle Little, Evans Data Corp – Analyst

I think this is a great slide showing motivation and type of events different developers prefer:

IMG_0766 (1)

  • Beginners and younger developers prefer in-person events
  • More senior and enterprise developers online events such as webinars

Published by

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.