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A technology evangelist is a person who builds a critical mass of support for a given technology, and then establishes it as a technical standard in a market that is subject to network effects. The word evangelism is taken from the context of religious evangelism due to the similarity of relaying information about a particular set of beliefs with the intention of converting the recipient. There is some element of this although some would argue it's more of showcasing the potential of a technology to lead someone to want to adopt it for themselves.
Platform evangelism is one target of technology evangelism, in which the vendor of a two-sided platform attempts to accelerate the production of complementary goods by independent developers (e.g., Facebook encourages developers to create games or develop mobile apps that can enhance users' experiences with Facebook.).
Professional technology evangelists are often employed by firms seeking to establish their technologies as de facto standards. Their work could also entail the training of personnel, including top managers so that they acquire skills and competencies necessary to adopt new technology or new technological initiative. There are even instances when technology evangelism becomes an aspect of a managerial position.
Open-source evangelists, on the other hand, operate independently. Evangelists also participate in defining open standards. Non-professional technology evangelists may act out of altruism or self-interest (e.g., to gain the benefits of early adoption or network effect).
History of term
The term "software evangelist" was coined by Mike Murray of Apple Computer's Macintosh computer division. It was part of Apple's drive to compete with IBM and it specifically described the initiative to win over third-party developers rhetorically to persuade them to develop software and applications for the Macintosh platform. The first so-identified technology evangelist was Mike Boich — who promoted the Macintosh computer. The job is often closely related to both sales and training but requires specific technology marketing skills. For example, convincing a potential buyer or user to change from older methods to new ones. There is also the case of adopting new products such as green IT. The marketing aspect involved in technology evangelism was strongly influenced by Geoffrey Moore and his books concerning the technology adoption lifecycle. One of his positions maintain that the role of the evangelist becomes critical when addressing what he identified as the "chasm" that exists between early and mainstream adoption.
Technology evangelism is sometimes associated with an internal employee assigned to encourage new practices within an organization. Methods of evangelism available include a modified STREET process (scope, track, rank, evaluate, evangelize, transfer) and the process that takes advantage of the hype cycle. Evangelism can also assume the form of a learning process and employ tools such as the Learning Management Systems (LMS).
Notable technology evangelists
Notable technology evangelists in the commercial arena include Steve Jobs (Apple Inc.), Vint Cerf (Internet), Don Box, Guy Kawasaki, Alex St. John, Myriam Joire (Pebble), Mudasser Zaheer (Hewlett Packard Enterprise) and Dan Martin (MasterCard). Court records indicate that James Plamondon was a leading theorist, strategist, and practitioner of technology evangelism at Microsoft during its establishment of Microsoft Windows as the de facto standard PC operating system. Kawasaki, on the other hand, was credited for the remarkable growth of the software developed for the Macintosh, jumping from a few dozen products to more than 600 in less than a year of spreading the so-called Macintosh gospel.
- Technology adoption lifecycle
- Diffusion of innovations
- Operating system advocacy
- Open-source advocacy
- Evangelism marketing
- Frederic Lucas-Conwell (December 4, 2006). "Technology Evangelists: A Leadership Survey" (PDF). Growth Resources, Inc. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
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