The time for platforms to rethink how they engage developers is now
How we communicate, socialize, look up information, work, shop and travel have all been transformed by platform companies. COVID-19 has only increased our reliance on these platforms, as people spend more time on the internet and businesses migrate from offline to online offerings.
These shifts present challenges to the platforms themselves. With people increasingly using low-latency applications such as teleconferencing and video streaming, there’s much more demand for data to be delivered without noticeable delays. As more and more varied businesses migrate their services online, it creates additional burdens on platform infrastructure and stretches the limits of their functionality.
It’s a challenging environment for platform companies. But disruption also presents opportunities. The question becomes, “What do platform companies need to do to remain relevant and to improve their products and services?“
The Importance of Developers
There are some obvious starting points. Platform companies will need to rapidly adapt their offerings according to their evolving user base. They’ll also need to plan for commercial sustainability and make sure that they balance short-term expenditure with longer-term profitability.
But they will not be able to do these things alone. With almost 24 million developers in the world today, external developers are central to any platform’s effort to adapt their products and expand commercial sustainability. As the technology industry continues to be subject to disruption, the developer ecosystem is ideally placed to drive expansion at a sustainable scale, enable product differentiation, reduce time-to-market and ensure relevance through product-driven growth.
Those platforms that can successfully engage developers will stand out from the crowd and win the increasingly competitive fight for developer loyalty. Similarly, as developer ecosystems increasingly become a key differentiator, the platforms that fail to engage developers may also fail to keep up with the rapidly changing technology landscape.
Developing Developer Partnerships
It’s clear that platforms will need to make engaging developers a priority moving forward. The question is, how?
For a start, organizations need to have a clear sense of which parts of their ecosystem can be opened up quickly and which integrations need to be built into the platform. With these established, the next step is to engage the developers that are best placed to help.
At the core of engaging developers successfully is the recognition that different developers will have different priorities, needs and core skillsets. All developers need to secure ROI by engaging with the platform and its ecosystem. But their perception of value will differ. Enterprise developers, for example, rate ease of use, peer perception, strong developer tools, accurate content and enterprise-level support. Independent software vendors (ISVs), however, care most about revenue, lead generation and being pulled into deals.
Segmentation, Segmentation, Segmentation
Investing in areas that will attract the right developers is key to long-term sustainability. And there are a few key areas that will require especially close attention. First and foremost, developer segmentation will be absolutely vital for every platform. As the product landscape expands, platforms need to be clear which new developers may want to engage with their platform.
By revisiting developer segmentation, new product use-cases can be included to ensure that content, support and messaging match what developers need. For example, if low-code/no-code developers are a new demographic, platforms need to extend content the scope of their help materials to include more basic explanations (including generic technology terms) and extra links to FAQs.
On the other end, platforms also will need to invest in tools that match the needs of different developer groups. Experienced, full-stack developers using the latest languages and patterns will expect sophisticated tooling, services and frameworks as well as DevOps tools.
Either way, continued focus on self-service will ensure cost-effectiveness by allowing platforms to manage extra usage without the need to apply extra resources.
Scaling New Heights With the Cloud
If transitioning critical services to the cloud isn’t already on the agenda for every platform business, it should be. A seamless service transition to cloud, with future-proofed expansion capabilities, is imperative for any platform that wants to engage developers. Why? Because as well as supporting service-based pricing, transitioning to the cloud facilitates scale and allows developers to access the platform securely from any location. Above anything else, a robust cloud infrastructure makes platforms more flexible, facilitates collaboration between platforms and developers and enhances the platform’s overall performance.
Thriving With Developers in a Post-COVID World
The time for platforms to rethink how they engage developers is now. Building a developer ecosystem will be vital for any platform wanting to scale at speed. If equipped with powerful tools, enabled through self-service and supported through effective educational resources, developers can be the difference between platforms that struggle in a post-COVID-19 world and those that thrive.