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The RoI of developer events

Stijn Schuermans · February 10, 2016

Developers deeply value the community they belong to. With this in mind, real-life events are surely the ultimate, high-touch way to get together. Or are they? Our new report uses data from 3,150+ IoT developers to shed light on the matter.


[tweetable]Developers deeply value the community they belong to[/tweetable], and use community resources including open source communities and Q&A sites (such as StackOverflow) every day to find information, stay up to date, and get professional support from their peers on the tools, platforms, and APIs they use.

This is one of the clear conclusions of VisionMobile’s new report on Best Practices for IoT Developer Programs, which explores what IoT developers value most in a developer support program. For this report we surveyed 3,150+ IoT developers from 140+ countries in our 9th edition Developer Economics survey – the largest research to date on IoT developers.

If developers value the sense of community so much, then real-life events are surely the ultimate, high-touch way to get together. In our experience events are often the focal points of developer programs – and a big budget-eater! It’s worth looking closely at which developers attend the different types of events, and which don’t.

In general, events like conferences, seminars, workshops, Meetups, and hackathons are a mid-range source of information for developers. Between 10% and 30% of developers attend them, depending on the type of event and the developer segment. Workshops and conferences are the most popular, each a source of information for 22% of developers, followed by Meetups (18%) and hackathons (16%). In other words, [tweetable]you reach only about a fifth of the developer population with events[/tweetable]. The expectations towards developer programs to organise events are even lower: only 8% of IoT developers consider events to be a key feature of the support program.


It is a good practice to tune the events you organise or support to your specific developer audience. For example, developers working on Data Mashups value the formal knowledge transfer offered by seminars, trainings, and workshops (+10 percentage points relative to other developers), and to a lesser extent conferences (+4 pp). In contrast, device makers value the opportunity for playful exploration offered by hackathons (+5 pp).

Similarly events are, by and large, an enterprise affair. Developers working in large organisations are significantly more likely to attend events of any kind. This includes hackathons, which are often considerably less formal events than conferences or seminars.

Events have limited reach and are certainly not the activity with the highest ROI in a developer program. They should be considered carefully before including them in the program mix. This said, they can be a valuable addition when they are centered around PR and networking, i.e. community building, and optimized for the right audience.

In the full report, we look in detail at what Internet of Things developers need and expect from your program, beyond the obvious activity of organising developer events. We show how Internet of Things developers can be an important ingredient in your business model, but also how competition for their attention is fierce. We discuss the best practices in supporting your developer constituency by fiercely attacking friction points and by fostering community. We also discuss how developers prefer to get educated in your technology, what role money and commercial opportunities play, and how you can reach out to developers in an effective way. Our data from 3,150+ developers lays out a roadmap for the creation of a solid developer program, in tune with developer needs. Get it here.