31 December 2022

tl;dr: In my 2022 Tech Predictions, I asserted that more companies would be building DevRel teams, and I've repeated that in my 2023 Tech Predictions. I have reasons for that; I've been at many wildly-different companies, many of which with wildly different business models, and I've concluded that every company (that is in any way associated with software beyond a cursory level) in the post-2000 era has need of a Developer Relations department or organization. That said, DevRel is not the same at every company, and varies with the kind of things the company does to make money.

These are bold words, and often generate reactions ranging from quizzical to "are you trying to sell me something?". I stand by them, though, because every company in the post-2000 era that does something with software--whether they buy it, use it, or build it--engages with developers in some way, and therefore needs to relate to them.

If you're still willing to hear me out, let's revisit my definition of Developer Relations:

That part of the company that engages with developers, both internal and external to the company, for the purpose of using that relationship for net gain. This can take the form of many things, but ultimately, (a) it's aimed at developers, (b) it's intended to facilitate greater positivity to one or both sides, and (c) it centers around developer activities of one form or another (that is, it could be technical, "human skill", or process, but it kinda-sorta has to be around the world of software development).

Let's also consider a simple categorization of companies, according to my own (very biased) experience and perspective:

Each of these companies needs a DevRel team, but for different reasons:

Now, keep in mind that when I talk about the role of developer relations, I'm not just speaking of the activities of developer advocates; a modern DevRel team will have a variety of different folks on a DevRel team, and in many cases those activities will be different for the different roles on the team. DevAds will often go and speak at conferences, for example, whereas Technical Community Managers will be taking more of the social media management on themselves, while Technical Content Engineers will be focusing on content creation (such as documentation, videos, and so on), and Developer Support Engineers will be the first line of support for external developers, and so on. These roles overlap, to be sure, but it's the rare case where one person will do everything. (Frankly, those cases should probably be reserved for those companies that are just getting started and need somebody to kick things off in the DevRel space--just like the startup's technical co-founder writes the code, builds the website, manages the bugs, and so on. Over time, you need to scale up and out, and that means more people.)

Every company that uses software, needs Developer Relations.

Tags: devrel  

Last modified 31 December 2022