Last week I attended my first Google I/O conference. As a developer marketer, I over-analyzed every step I took by constantly looking for answers to questions like “what are they trying to accomplish here?, “which developer feedback prompted Google to do x or y”?, “how does this particular session fits into their global Dev Rel efforts?”. These types of questions kept coming left and right all week long. I have to admit that it might have interfered with my ability to just sit and enjoy the show. That said, I had a great time and learned a lot about developer communities, what Google is doing for their developer network, and how important this type of events are to the active members of a developer community. In this post I want to share the main three takeaways I’ve taken with me. Let’s jump right into it!
Takeaway 1: Listen, show you listened, and do something about it!
Google is doing a great job capturing and integrating product feedback into their roadmaps. Material Themes comes to mind as great example of this. I’ve built using Material before and while I loved how it helped my apps look and feel more consistent, I never enjoyed the fact that they felt like every other “out of the box” Android app. Google listened to this common issue, and fixed it! When releasing features that address problems from earlier versions, it is important for brands to narrate how they got there and role developers played in prioritizing the optimizations or creation of new features. It is a strong signal of developer program maturity when a company can make its developers an integral part of their innovation push. This is a powerful way to invest in community and help each members of the community recognize its value.
Takeaway 2: Show me the future
Loyalty to a particular set of tools goes beyond what developers can do with them today. Yes, it is extremely important to have the proper capabilities in place to help developers solve mission critical business problems. But to win, you have to help them paint a path to the future. The Google Assistant and AI keynotes were a magnificent display of how to employ this tactic. Showcasing your R&D to the community helps the company communicate its vision and philosophies about how the future could look like. It creates, at a very early stage, a sense of affinity that translates to loyalty given a set commonly defined views of tomorrow. It might sound cult-ish, but in this case I don’t see that as a negative.
Takeaway 3: Prioritize community
The Community Lounge was one of my favorite spots to hangout at. Whenever I had down time I organically gravitated there. The energy, the diversity, the conversations beyond bits were very refreshing. Companies should be investing more in having developer community initiatives and looking at how what they do goes beyond a developer’s IDE.