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A Geeky Reflection on Devrel Summit: Developer Engagement Is Key

This is a reflection post from our guest writer, Wing Puah of The Geek Wing from her experience with the Devrel Summit 2018. Enjoy the read!

A geeky reflection on Devrel Summit: Developer communication and participation.

Around two in the afternoon, I walked into Huone, Clarke Quay and was greeted with vibrant colors. The first breakout session by JSConf Asia founder, Thomas Gorissen, was just coming to an end. One of the event personnel informed that the breakout session had overran for about ten minutes. I gobbled up the Japanese theme lunch while waiting to join the breakout session by Carousell.

This summit features prominent technological companies, like Google, Facebook, Shopify, Mozilla and Slack and their practices of Devrel.

Devrel is the short form of Developer Relations. At its core, it is a way to connect with directly with developers. Traditional marketing and PR techniques might not work well with developers. The open source movement has made it such that community developers could now assist to improve a company product that they truly love.

Nowadays, developers are the backbone of many companies. As the demand for developers far exceed the supply, companies must get creative to attract, retain and engage talents. This is especially true for Singapore, where the government are pushing for many upgrading and upskilling initiatives for people to enter or transit into their technology industry.

In the blockchain industry, it is an uphill battle among companies to retain the best talents. Developer satisfaction is an important aspect of technological company. Even with companies that are not entirely tech focus, chances are, they will still have an online website.

At DevRel Summit, conversations are sparked on meeting developers wants and needs. Nowadays, developers are no longer the stereotypical introverted and anti-social people, who only care about coding and shipping products. Many companies will love to be able to engage the developers, be it for hiring purposes or to build a strong community of third-party developers. Monthly meetups, conferences and hackathons are organized to encourage developer communication and participation.

In fact, developer meetups seem to consistently have a good number of turnup. But the question is, are the developers coming to meet your organization? While developer relations are a relative new field, the trend will be that it will become more of a common business unit in other companies. More and more companies are pushing for open source code for professional engineers to create and build products.

And the spirit of open source has created a feedback loop that could connect third-party developers to the products of the company. By giving developers the tools of API and SDK, external developers can potentially become evangelists of the companies. Nowadays, developers make the decision to integrate certain systems and software to their company. That’s why it is important for companies to cultivate an on-going conversation with external developers.

Even within the organization, there are many things that could be done to cultivate a striving developer community. One takeaway from the event is the feedback loop. Feedback loop are all around us. For system and software, it is relatively easy to set up and monitor the feedback system. Build test, run test and fix whatever that failed the test.

However, when it comes to a feedback loop for community management, it will take time. It is tough, almost akin to nurturing a sapling. And the thing about feedback is, how do we know if the feedback assists the person to achieve what he/she needs to achieve. The missing link here is reviewing the implementation of the feedback and sharing the outcome with the person we learn from. Again, the common topic is to build conversations and closing the feedback loop.

The developer community remains fascinating. Outreach to developers will not be an easy task. It will be interesting to see how the roles and toolkits of devrel personnel will evolve and take shape in Singapore. It will be vital for company to fuel the growth and diversity of their developer team in order to produce quality products. At the end of the day, if companies have yet to done so, they need to start thinking about creating great developer experiences, which will in term increase the probability of their products being build faster and better.