January 10, 2022
DevRelCon founder and CEO of Hoopy, the content agency for the developer economy.
The start of a new year is a great time to have a guess at what might be coming over the next 12 months. So, what does 2022 hold for DevRel?
In December we’ll look back on a whole bunch of news stories that no one expected.
However, there are three themes that seem likely to shape the year ahead for developer relations.
Whatever your view on where Covid-19 is headed, in person developer events are starting to come back. In the UK, for example, the PHP UK conference has a three day in person conference taking place in February. Similarly, in many parts of the world sporting events, music concerts, and live theatre have returned, albeit often with changes to accommodate Covid.
In 2022, developer relations teams will need to consider how to re-engage with live events. Jeremy Meiss, Director of Developer Relations and Community at CircleCI, put it this way:
Many people in the communities which we serve were left with a profound sense of loneliness, as something essential (like meetups, conferences, events, etc.) was rudely ripped away by COVID-19. Over the last four months, I’ve been back in-person at events and there are a few things which stand out to me:
- In-person conferences can be run effectively and safely.
- People are hungry for in-person interaction, and the conversations I have had with developers in the community while at conferences and events have been some of the best ever.
Our plans this year are to step into the above wherever possible, and safe to, and re-engage with our community in-person at events, meetups, conferences, etc. while also continuing to provide quality content which helps familiarise developers with our product and others.
One challenge for DevRel teams will be how to balance the return to in-person events with the gains made in online engagement sparked by the pandemic.
One of the themes of DevRelCon 2021 was the DevRel career path. For much of the past ten years, the narrative has been that developer advocates are all-rounders. They can code, speak engagingly on a stage, write great docs, come up with metrics to measure the whole thing, and they’ve got some great stock tips. Okay, probably not that last one.
Perhaps the unicorn developer advocate myth came about because, in a rapidly growing discipline, many open positions are an organization’s first DevRel hire. If DevRelCon 2021 is anything to go by, where there was a multiplicity of job titles and ideas about the developer relations career path, things seem to be changing.
The truth is, however many of us had to play the all-rounder role, we all have our strengths and those things that we’re not so good at. As developer relations matures and teams grow, specialized roles that let DevRel people play to their strengths will be increasingly common.
It’s fair to say Web3 splits opinion. Whether it’s high profile developer relations people taking roles at blockchain firms, expectations from our developer communities, or new tooling that relies on Web3 concepts, it seems likely that decentralization and its attendant technologies will have an impact on DevRel in 2022.
For John Coghlan of GitLab, it’s part of a broader set of themes set in motion by the pandemic:
- Two big trends from 2021 that impacted communities were the continuation of the pandemic and the emergence of web3. These two trends, along with increased focus from companies on building communities as a moat for their business, have driven a proliferation of community tools. One of our priorities will be ensuring that we’re leveraging the right channels and tools to engage with our community.
- Sourcing more content from our community will continue to be a priority this year. This will include both using community feedback to inform ideas for the content our team is creating and also collaborating more with our community to support them in creating their own content.
At the very least, most DevRel teams will need to consider their response to the Web3 movement.
Nominations for the DevRel Awards are open now, with the awards ceremony livestream on March 29th. The DevRel Book Club kicks of on January 19th. And DevRelCon returns in May with a new online conference aimed at DevRel leaders called DevRelCon Deep Dives.
Here’s to a year where we all learn, grow, and build something valuable.