This article possibly contains original research. (May 2012)
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 borrowed from the context of religious evangelism due to the similarity of sharing information about a particular concept with the intention of having others adopt that concept. This is typically accomplished by showcasing the potential uses and benefits of a technology to help others understand how they can use 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., during its early years, Facebook worked on creating an ecosystem of 3rd party developers, encouraging them to create games or develop mobile apps that could 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
In Christianity, the word evangelist comes from the Koine Greek word εὐαγγέλιον (transliterated as euangelion) via Latinised evangelium as used in the canonical titles of the Four Gospels, authored by (or attributed to) Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (also known as the Four Evangelists). The concept that sharing particular established standards to help others to adopt them is similar in the technology-related field.
The term "software evangelist" was coined by Mike Murray of Apple Computer's Macintosh computer division in the early 1980s. 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. In Guy Kawasaki's own words, it meant "using fervor and zeal (but never money) to convince software developers to create products for a computer with no installed base, 128K of RAM, no hard disk, no documentation, and no technical support, made by a flaky company that IBM was about to snuff out." 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).
The role of technology evangelists
Technology evangelists usually take a leadership role in organizations. They are the respective leader ensuring the success of others. Their action needs to be taken in a legitimate manner.
The purpose of objective that technology evangelists attached to usually generate positive effects to help people feel better or impressed. To promote the technology product or idea, technology evangelists usually requires a commitment to the management of the corporation. Different fields of skills can be used by technology evangelists, includes but not limited to technology, marketing, psychology. A specialized understanding of technology is required, being a generalist will reduce evangelist's credibility.
Six major characteristics of technology evangelists
From study by Frederic Lucas-Conwell, the principal characteristics of the technology evangelist role include:
- Generosity with one's time while proactively initiating and leveraging relationships to accomplish goals.
- Clear and persuasive communication of large amounts of information, adapting content delivery to audience's specific needs.
- Strong understanding of interpersonal and team dynamics, willing to collaborate with others.
- Casual and outgoing persona with an animated communication style that attracts others into conversation.
- Interested in relationship-building and forging a team for technical work.
- Focused on achieving end-goals, delegating details to other individuals.
Notable technology evangelists
Notable technology evangelists in the commercial arena include Steve Jobs (Apple Inc.), Vint Cerf (Internet), Don Box, Guy Kawasaki, Chris Crawford, Alex St. John, Robert Scoble, Myriam Joire (Pebble), Christian Allen (Epic Games), 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. He claims, "Evangelism isn't a job title, it's a way of life."
- Frederic Lucas-Conwell (December 4, 2006). "Technology Evangelists: A Leadership Survey" (PDF). Growth Resources, Inc. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
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