This past year, I had the pleasure of attending several DevRel conferences, including DevRelCon London 2023, Developer Marketing Summit 2023, and DevRelX. Going to events like these is always a bit like a family reunion – you see long-time friends and get to meet and welcome newcomers. This was especially true in 2023 with the return to in-person events. There was built-in time and space for networking, in-depth conversations, and learning from our fellow attendees and speakers. 

Increased Focus on ROI in 2024

The consistent theme that emerged across all the DevRel events I attended was an increased focus on ROI. As financial conditions have tightened across the tech industry, DevRel leaders are increasingly being tasked with justifying the ROI of their work. 

As intuitive as it is, Developer Relations is all about … relationships. It’s about building dialogue and common ground between companies and the developers that use their products, as well as providing the environment and resources conducive to success. While working directly with the developers using your platform makes the benefits somewhat obvious – what is less obvious is how to measure and quantify that success through standard business metrics, especially for executives who may be many layers removed from a developer’s actual experiences.

My Favorite DevRel Conference Talks in 2023

Developer Relations, Developer Marketing, Evangelism, something avocado, and all of the other names for what we do may have different connotations that vary from company to company. For the purposes of simplicity, I’m going to use DevRel here as a catch-all to talk about some of my takeaways from speakers at these various events. 

In the past, it has almost seemed taboo for DevRel folks to talk about their work in dollars and cents, but it seems there is a growing consensus that there are ways to maintain the ‘spirit’ of DevRel while still demonstrating your impact on a business’s bottom line. Randall Degges and Matt Jarvis from Snyk gave a fantastic talk at DevRelCon about resiliency, measuring impact, and scaling programs to better align DevRel with business objectives.

We also got to see Mike Stowe, Director of Developer Marketing at RingCentral, give an in-depth session at the Developer Marketing Summit about positioning your marketing to developers for success to make sure you maintain both the authentic spirit and impact of DevRel programs. 

On a similar note, I also found tremendous value in a talk on building champion programs with super users, and ways to make them more fulfilling than simple financial transactions by Meghan Murphy, Director of Developer Relations with Intuit. Fun fact – Meghan and I worked together more than a decade ago in the early days of Twilio’s DevRel program!

2024 Predictions & DevRel Events

As we look back on 2023, two pivotal themes stand out. On the one hand, there’s an increased focus on ROI caused by a pragmatic shift driven by the evolving landscape of tech. On the other hand, as Wesley Faulkner put it in his DevRelCon keynote, there’s the unyielding spirit of community, integrity, and the art of paying it forward.

In the coming year, at Major League Hacking (MLH), we’re gearing up to navigate these waters with a blend of analytical rigor and heartfelt community building. It’s about striking that fine balance of quantifying our impact without losing the essence of what makes DevRel truly special: the people, the connections, the shared growth. Here’s to a year of impactful metrics and meaningful connections!