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Developer Relations Program Spotlight: Uber
Each Developer Relations Program Spotlight blog post highlights the many aspects of a company’s developer outreach activities. Included in a spotlight is some background information about the program, one or more program team members, a question/answer about the features and benefits of the program and an “At-a-Glance” checklist of top program offerings. This time I shine the spotlight on the Uber Developer Relations Program.
Head of Engineering, Developer Platform, Uber
Fusing Developer Relations and Platform Engineering
At last year’s Evans Data Developer Relations Conference (2016), Adam gave a great presentation, “Going from 0 to 60 by fusing developer relations and platform engineering”, at the 2016 Evans Data Developer Relations Conference in Palo Alto. One of the unique aspects of the Uber developer program is that it fuses together developer relations and platform engineering inside one organization. Uber released their first API for developers in 2014.
Uber’s platform mission is “Build Moving Experiences”.
Adam presented a slide with many well-known global brand name logos saying “Today, leading brands elevate their experience with Uber”. Adam went on to showcase some of Uber’s APIs and how developers are creating innovative applications that do more than just get the rider from point A to point B. He also gave some suggestions for additional value added features that companies and developers could add to enhance each trip.
At Uber engineering and developer advocacy are joined to integrate the platform, features and SDKs.
Adam highlighted the synergy of his team’s integration of developer relations and engineering with the phrase, “Enable magical moments through the API”. The closeness allows for features to be provided, developer feedback to come straight into engineering and SDK development to continue in real time.
Developer advocacy ensures that every developer is aware of the Uber API and that the platform direction is aligned with developer needs.
The bi-directional flow follows the following flows:
You will find many of the Developer Relations Conference 2016 presentations on the DevRelate community at https://www.devrelate.com/2016-conference-presentations/
This year, Adam is giving a keynote presentation at the 13th Annual Evans Data Developer Relations Conference, March 27-28 in Palo Alto California. “Evolution of a Developer Platform: An Inside-Out Journey”. Join this keynote session for an introspective look at the evolution of the Uber Developer Platform from its inception to today. Find out what worked, what didn’t and lessons learned along the way.
Bio: Adam Rogal is the head of engineering of Uber’s Developer Platform. Uber’s mission is a simple one – transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere, for everyone. Uber’s Developer Platform believes in that same principle, ensuring its APIs are available to everyone, everywhere. Preiously, Adam lead developer relations for publisher ads products at Google, enabling countless developers to monetize their passion, hobbies, and business.
Uber Spotlight Q&A
1. What are the benefits of having the developer evangelism and engineering teams in one organization and are there any negatives of work on more problems because of that alignmentWe experienced a variety of benefits from this model.
For one, the ownership dynamics change radically; Developer Advocacy is empowered to make improvements to products like the SDKs, Docs and Developer Tools. The feedback loop between external developers and the engineering teams is also dramatically tighter. Feedback and bug reports from the community get turned into actions and improvements quickly. Last but not least, it improves the culture of both teams since they learn from each other.
For instance, post-mortems are required for all support requests handled by Developer Advocates who answer two important questions to improve the developer experience: (1) what did we learn from this request? and (2) what was done to prevent a similar question in the future? On the other side, Engineering is more encouraged to think about the impact of their work on developers and make decisions to build the best possible experience for their customers.
2. Your talk showed how you uniquely combine engineering and developer relations into one team. How does your team integrate with other parts of Uber – development, sales, web, marketing, partner programs, etc.?
We operate as a true platform team, even internally. To do this, we provide services and technology substrates to internal Uber teams to use if and when they build products for developers. Just like an API, we have defined an interface and SLAs for interactions with internal teams. We help teams to understand the benefits of an external API and we provide guidance throughout the development journey of new APIs. We intend to ramp this up further with internal talks and advocacy programs as well.
3. How many developers are in the Uber developer program?
We have a few dozen people on the team. The platform powers thousands of companies using Uber’s API, ranging from multinational corporations to city transit planners to dorm-room startups.
4. How many applications have been created using the Uber SDKs/APIs?
Check out our showcases for examples of great integrations. We’re not necessarily looking for quantity so much as quality. We try to provide tools that encourage developers to think about the future and make creative leaps.
5. How has developer outreach positively impacted Uber’s business: revenue, customer satisfaction, partnerships, etc.? Can you share some statistics?
We broadly think of the Developer Platform as a way to enable third party developers to leverage Uber’s capabilities as a starting place for their own innovation and positive disruption. If we can help developers be successful with our tools then, as a contributor to that success, Uber benefits in innumerable ways.
6. Do you track any data about return on investment on the cost of doing developer relations and what it means to the Uber’s business?
Here at Uber, we like to have big bets. This means that we’re willing to take a longer-term-view on some of the activities we’re engaged in.
But, it’s important we have wins along the way. For example, when we go to events, we expect to onboard some new developers to our platform, which we measure by website visitors, new apps, and time to first sandbox and production call.
7. Did you have any challenges or issues in getting buy-in from Uber – to have the developer program number one and number two having it integrated as part of platform engineering
Our leaders strongly believe in the power of open developer ecosystems. They’ve been very supportive and have even encouraged us to think bigger.
8. Are there any other key performance indicators statistics that you track and provide to Uber management to keep them informed and supporting how the developer program is doing?
There are some short-term tactical numbers we pay attention to like Trips and Bookings. But there are also early indicators of longer-term success like our NPS and developer engagement.
9. Is there anything else that you’d like to add about the Uber program its uniqueness and where do you see developer relations and developer outreach going in the future?
We enable developers to, with just a few API calls, add a little bit of the real world into their virtual products. Bits to atoms..
The great developer platforms today all provide unique features during key moments in a user’s life. Amazon Echo or Google Home are with you at home. Facebook Messenger is there to help you chat with friends. Slack helps you collaborate with your colleagues. Uber is there with you while you travel from A to B. We believe there’s a lot of opportunity here for Developers of all sizes to elevate and differentiate their apps with features and trip context from Uber. We’re just at the beginning.
About the DevRelate Developer Relations Program Spotlights
In today’s interconnected world, companies in all industries need to publish APIs and cultivate a developer community to access and use them. To be competitive today, attracting and supporting developers is essential. The key to cultivating a vibrant developer community that uses your APIs and supports your platform is a good developer relations program.As part of the Evans Data DevRelate community, David I is creating a series of developer relations program spotlights highlighting companies that are reaching out to developers to achieve higher levels of business success. In collaboration with the leader of a company’s developer program, these spotlight articles will help advance developer program best practices, increase developer successes and enhance each company’s industry leadership.If you want to have David I create a developer spotlight article for your company, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org