Any talk of evolution needs to be based in an origin story. If we look back to the history of developer relationship management, it may have all started in 1964 with IBM encouraging their third party programmers to build business applications on the System/360. Hewlett-Packard, Fairchild and Atari drove developers to their chips in the 1970s. Microsoft & Apple drove developers to PCs in the 1980s and beyond. Sun and Oracle to UNIX and data over internet protocol in the 1990s. After these, Paypal and Amazon drove online payments and shopping.
With the advent of feature phones we had developer relations programs for the carriers like Sprint, AT&T and Verizon and the first app stores like HandSpring and Getjar. With the arrival of smartphones and app ecosystems (iTunes, Google Play, Facebook), marketing to developers and the role of the Developer Evangelist evolved again around 10 years ago. Developer programs are always evolving, and have been for the last 50 years.
Is the developer relations world evolving again?
How will the Internet of Things, robotics, 3D printing, beacons, GE’s Industrial Internet, GE’s Predix and leaders in precision agriculture like John Deere change the way we do developer marketing? It’s not like the world of third-party, long-tail developers has jet engines, locomotives, MRI scanners, combine harvesters and digitally controlled row planters to “hack” against.
I imagine we will see inanimate objects in the future connected to the Internet in ways we can not predict, imagine or understand today.
(Image of and from Ideum Colossus table)
Consider the table you are working at today. Is there any reason why it should be connected to the Internet? Will your conference table become a “thing,” in the Internet of Things? Are we going to see more “smart tables?” Perhaps. A high-end conference table could connect to the Internet. It could tell the temperature, location, levelness, stability, and monitor proper (or improper) usage. Perhaps it might count the number of meeting participants by body temperature. It might also have built in cell phone chargers, like those from Duracell at Starbucks. It might also have beacon technology, and record the ID from every device (phone, tablet, laptop, watch, wearable) placed on the table or nearby. It might keep attendance records in the workplace, a university or library. Your table might, in the future, report this information to its owner and perhaps in aggregate form to its manufacturer. It is interesting to me that our products in the future will (with our permission) maintain their digital conversations with their manufacturer long after we purchase them. These digital conversations already take place with your smart phone, laptop and car. How will permissions and privacy play into this new world? Will future world devices, even tables, be able to inform their manufacturers when they are not being used properly?
How will the Internet of Things and the industrial Internet help us regarding energy use and climate change? Will smart devices use energy in smarter ways? Will a room only be cooled when the table detects occupant temperature? Or will tables talk to one another and to the HVAC system to more efficiently heat and cool buildings?
Every new device connected to the internet will need developers to facilitate integration, build rich content and capabilities. What is the new playbook? Are there tried and true strategies that still work, or has the game changed so much that the old plays don’t work? Is your developer program falling asleep as the market is changing?
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