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Developers, other developers, more developers, and APIs…

For the second year in a row I am attending the Evans Data Corporation Developer Relations Conference. This event is a 2 days event for all developer advocates in marketing or R&D to share best practices about developer programs. The conference is quite small (~100 attendees) but companies like Google, IBM,, Adobe, Oracle, Intel, Huawei, AT&T, etc. have representatives here. Even John Deere and Mastercard are there!

This year SAP is a sponsor. We have been working with Evans Data Corporation since last July; they have helped us to develop profiles of strategic developer segments for our technologies and platforms. I was invited to give a talk. The title of my talk was “The burgeoning SAP developer community”. Some might wonder why “burgeoning” while we already have more than 1 million developers in our ecosystem. There is a reason: most of those developers who are already in our ecosystem work at SAP customers and partners and few of them are actually independent developers or entrepreneurs, which are typically those we want to recruit. Burgeoning refers to the net new developer ecosystem we are growing for our newest technologies and platforms, e.g. SAP HANA, SAP Mobile Platform, etc.

I filled the room and got tons of questions: I was asked about connection points between our developer and partner programs, about our application certification for developers, about how much support we provided for developers who wanted to sell their applications on our App Store. I really enjoyed the interaction with the audience. I shared what was hard for us at SAP: creating an amazing developer experience, or evolving our brand, or thinking volume and scale instead of just big customers and big partners. Most in the audience were leading or working for Developer Relations for big companies too. It was interesting and reassuring to see how much our struggles were similar to their. A few asked me during the day how we were managing to show results and progress. It is the toughest of all: how do you link developer communities to revenue generation? Of course analytics are a critical part of our job but connecting developer influence to company purchase is often a long stretch…

During and after a panel that touched on the topic of gamification, I got really hooked on a gamified platform that Evans Data Corporation has set up with Influitive. I went from challenge to challenge to win more and more points and make it to the leaderboard. I got so competitive! I got third and I am still third at the time I write this blog. So proud!

Let’s come back to developers…

What I found quite interesting compared to last year is how much there was much more discussions about APIs, Web APIs, Open APIs. A few people I met were actually head of “API Enablement and Developer Relations” or director of “Open API and Developer Programs”.

My favorite talk was actually John Musser’s talk about API Business Models. His talk was different and extremely informative: it came as an avalanche of ideas and information. He said a few things that made me think:

You should think of APIs along a continuum from internal to private to public. Note that you may want internal to be the biggest use of your API.

He recommended that we think very hard about what we wanted to expose via our APIs:

Was it valuable business, like Twilio? Valuable data? Valuable audience? Valuable function? Valuable marketplace? Valuable access?

He spent a long time telling us about the various types of ROIs of API Business Models:

Free: Facebook, yellow pages, PS apis (gov)
Developer pays: Pay as you go(AWS), Tiered pricing (Mailchimp), Freemium (Google maps), Freemium + tiered pricing (Mailchimp), Unit-based pricing (Sprint, Wordstream), Beware-complex-pricing (Orange), Transaction fee (Stripe, Paypal, Braintree, Securely, Chargify)
Developers get paid: CPA-Affiliate revenue share (Amazon product advertising API), CPC-Revenue share (, Recurring revenue share (rdio)
Indirect: Content acquisition (eBay), Content syndication (The New York Times), API as Saas upsell (, APIs the glue of Saas (the Small Business Web, Intuit)

The Business Model part, the “how” part was really quite interesting.

Adam Seligman from concluded the day with advices for all of us running developer programs at our companies:

A developer is not a developer, ie all developers are different. Look at your data daily. Google is what will bring developers to your developer web site, not your marketing web sites; therefore be smart with google search. Stand for something and make it visible on your developer web site.

I finished day 1 networking around drinks and dinner with sponsors: IBM, Intel, John Deere, Mastercard. Amazing people, amazing stories!

It was one of these days where I would not give up my developer experience job for anything else 🙂

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