05 Oct

Being a Product Evangelist at Alfresco

Starting from the 3rd of October, I began a new challenge as Product Evangelist at Alfresco. The role is not a new entry for the famous ECM, because Ole Hejlskov covered it with success for more than one year, with the title of “Developer Evangelist” (tasks and responsibilities are more or less the same). During the on-boarding period, before joining Alfresco, one main question was in my mind:

What a Product Evangelist does in Alfresco?

What a Developer Evangelist generally is?

The confirmation that these questions should be clarified, came when I shared the news with some friends, working as developers. Only few of them knew what a Product or Developer Evangelist does in concrete. Only few of them knew which is the mission of a Product or Developer Evangelist.

To cover this , after studying the few documentation over the web, I started to write this post, sure that, sooner or later, it would be useful for the developers to clarify my role into the Alfresco ecosystem. Last but not least, writing this article, has been useful for me too, to rationalize the challenge, the tasks and the responsibilities.

Contents

Disclaimer

All the content of this post is a personal interpretation of the books, posts and articles shared from experienced Evangelists over the web. My contribution aims to be a reasonable projection of the role on what I’m going to do for Alfresco. I cannot say that it is exactly what I’ll do and the tasks and responsibilities could changed according to the decisions of the Company, the Coordinator, the Team. I can only say that in this post I share what I understand for the role and what I imagine it will be. I will update the post if something won’t meet the real tasks and responsibilities, or something will change in the near or far future. Please be patient, it’s my first experience as Product Evangelist and I’m doing my best. 🙂

Alfresco Product Evangelist in few words

Considering the ramp up phase and what Alfresco described in the job profile, in my opinion Michael Sheehan summarizes correctly the role.

A developer evangelist focuses heavily on the developer community, is highly technical and is often a former (or current) developer who also has a core aptitude for communication and articulation. [1]

The role of the evangelist is to build a loyal following through an honest promotion of a product or service. [1]

The Product Evangelist is the key public figure representing Alfresco to the developer community. In addition to helping developers adopt Alfresco technologies, this person will need to help Alfresco improve the developer experience with our technologies. [5]

In bold and orange what I assume as keywords described also in other sources [1,2,3,4,5].

Main tasks of the Alfresco Product Evangelist

Wikipedia, talking about the most generic Technology Evangelist, describes the tasks of the role as quoted below.

An evangelist promotes the use of a particular product or technology through talks, articles, blogging, user demonstrations, recorded demonstrations, or the creation of sample projects. [4]

Michael Sheehan describes the tools used by an Evangelist with a generic “spreading the world” [1], but in concrete he lists:

  • blogs
  • social media
  • hangouts
  • webinars
  • white papers or technical documents
  • presentations
  • tradeshows
  • demos
  • videos
  • screencasts
  • chats
  • discussion groups
  • meetups
  • emails

Describing the Evangelist’s “secret sauce”

evangelist-cyclePersonally, I find what Michael Sheehan describes as the “Evangelist secret sauce”, very interesting. He describes it as an endless cycle of iterations of a set of ordered steps [1]. He has boiled down what he typically is viewed as the “evangelism cycle” into 7 core steps:

Obviously, Michael describes, there are permutations of this and the lifespan of an individual cycle can be compressed or expanded (as well as always overlap) based on corporate initiatives or strategies. However, the evangelist is the one who iterates through the cycle, who works with marketing teams to align to marketing campaigns and strategies, who ensures that they fully understand what the product or service does or what the customers’ opinions of it are, who understands the sales process (but doesn’t do the hard sell), who provides help and support (and even evangelizes customers), and who often spends time with the engineering and developers to gain better technical insight.

Where the Alfresco Product Evangelist resides

alfresco-logo.pngAccording to some real life scenarios, the evangelist positioning within the Company’s hierarchy could be arbitrary. This is because a good evangelist is able to span and talk with multiple types of roles and individuals, within as well as outside of the organization. A Product or Developer Evangelist may have a much larger sweet spot or overlap within the Engineering and Product section. In Alfresco, the role is included into the “Platform Team” (managed by Eric Hagen) of the Product Management Organization (managed by Thomas De Meo).

My wish behind the “evangelism”

Most people, when they think of the word evangelist envision a religious evangelist. As Michael Sheehan says: “… believe it or not, this is not that far from what a technology evangelist does, but instead of communicating and inspiring a congregation about a religious theme or topic, the technology evangelist inspires businesses and individuals through interaction, content creation and communication about a product, a service or a technology”.

collaborationFollowing the advise of the most part of the experienced evangelists (find your role and play to your strengths [2]), I would prefer a title more closed to a “friendly” and “peer” concept, based on collaboration. I usually win, in projects or teams based on a trusted and fair collaboration between professionists, and I would play the same game in this role too.

My wish is to learn from people, sharing my experiences acquired in almost 20 years of work in the IT world, most of them passed working in ECM and BI projects with Open Source Platforms and Legacy Products and, why not, hopefully finding the best solutions together, to solve complex use cases and developers’ pain.

Conclusions

In this post I shared some thoughts I learned reading documentation over the web and thinking about my new role of Product Evangelist at Alfresco. The goal of the post is to share what a Product Evangelist generally does and what he/she should do, in particular for Alfresco. I cannot exclude that something will require a correction or something will change in the future, but this is what I currently understand for this interesting challenge. Please be patient, it’s my first experience as Product Evangelist, but if you are thinking to something about Alfresco and want to discuss it with me, I’ll be pleased to hearing from you.

Notes and references

[4] Wikipedia, “Technology evangelist”, last modification on July 2016
[5] Alfresco, “Job Profile for Product Evangelist”, July 2016

2 thoughts on “Being a Product Evangelist at Alfresco

  1. I would add “lunch” and “beer” in the tool list used by a Product Evangelist! Congratulations! 😉

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