RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Developers are the heartbeat of digital innovation, making a thriving developer ecosystem so important to the success of platforms and technologies.
  • The 2018 Accenture Developer Ecosystem Survey of 750 US-based developers revealed that developers are pragmatic and nuanced in their wants.
  • Spanning 15 leading platforms, the research shows platform companies need to engage the developers they most want and need to sustain their success.


Developers are the heartbeat of digital innovation, making a thriving developer ecosystem critically important to the success of any platform or technology. Industry leading companies recognize the need to build a strong relationship with the developer community, but many continue to struggle with how to do it effectively. The first challenge is understanding the variety of players. The developer ecosystem includes company employees, large and small partners, full-time independent developers and a range of part-time, opportunistic developers. Their wants and needs vary greatly, but are specific and highly nuanced.

Through proprietary research with more than 750 US-based developers, Accenture learned what’s important to developers and how they access resources. We gathered developer perspectives on how well 15 of the top platforms perform against their expectations, how ecosystems stack up against each other and which ones are setting industry standards. The study gives companies a novel perspective to benchmark their developer ecosystem against and progress toward best-in-class developer offerings.

Insights from the 2018 Accenture Developer Ecosystem Survey reveal that developers are pragmatic in their wants and needs.

Five key findings

  1. Education tops monetization in what developers want most from ecosystems
    Nearly three-quarters of survey respondents want to learn new skills, or improve current skills, when engaging with a developer ecosystem. Learning is particularly important to professional developers (78 percent agree) and to those working in medium-sized organizations and enterprises. The desire for education spans generations, as all age groups are equally interested in keeping their skills current.

74%

Want to learn new skills, or improve current skills, when engaging with a developer ecosystem.

64%

Want to make money through engaging with a developer ecosystem.

  1. Accurate content makes all the difference, especially for workhorses
    Technically accurate and up-to-date content rank as the two most important elements in a company’s developer ecosystem of the 15 elements the research queried – again, indicative of the pragmatic nature of this community. In fact, 9 in 10 professional developers rate these elements as critical. That content is findable and readable also ranks high in importance. This makes sense, since developers’ most preferred channel for getting questions answered is reading documentation and searching for answers on their own.
  2. Effective support is a close second to content
    Developers rank timely, knowledgeable and capable support just after accurate and current content in the list of most important elements of a company’s developer ecosystem. While developers want the right answer quickly, they rate knowledgeable support as more important than timely support by a small margin. Getting it right trumps getting it quickly if a trade-off is required.
  3. Market positioning matters, but marketing less so
    The openness of an ecosystem (either by strategy or ubiquity) is an important consideration for developers when selecting a platform. Developers consider how well the platform is integrated with other companies to be as important as readable and consistent content and personalized support. Integration is especially important to developers working for enterprises, 81 percent of whom rate it highly.
  4. There’s room for companies to differentiate
    Developers associate different platforms with different strengths. For example, developers in our study consider AWS the most future looking. Google Cloud Platform is considered the most innovative and caring about the needs of professional developers. And iOS has the most credibility among hard-core developers. But there’s wide-open opportunity for platforms to differentiate their developer ecosystems. Nearly half of developers think that all developer ecosystems are pretty much the same in terms of usefulness.

47%

Think all developer ecosystems are pretty much the same in terms of usefulness.

70%

Agree that a platform offering a truly differentiated and meaningful developer ecosystem would get a much larger part of their business.

Standing out from the crowd

Platform companies that stand out among their competitors offer developers the chance to solve challenging problems in interesting ways. They:

  • Inspire developers, by continually pushing technology boundaries and expanding the art of the possible.
  • Trust developers, by open-sourcing their code and granting access to their libraries and repositories.
  • Educate developers, by providing continually updated and comprehensive learning and certification programs.
  • Inform developers, by providing relevant and perpetually up-to-date information written exactly as developers need it to be written.
  • Support developers, by being there when needed most, in the ways that each developer group needs them to be.
  • Engage developers, by understanding what developers need to be successful and enabling mutually valuable relationships to grow.
  • Respect developers, by recognizing the value they provide, the knowledge they possess and that their collective success is intertwined.

In return, the developers they engage help to drive user acquisition and product usage that leads to the platform’s revenue growth and rising market valuation.

Stephen Donnelly

Senior Manager – Accenture Software and Platforms


Kevin Collins

Managing Director – Accenture Software and Platforms

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