Study shows that platform providers are missing out on what devs really want

Jane Elizabeth
platform providers
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What do developers look for in a platform provider? According to recent research from Accenture, developers overwhelmingly want education over monetization, technically accurate content, and timely support from platform providers. The bad news: most platforms aren’t even close to making the grade.

Accenture’s latest Developer Ecosystem Survey is out and the focus this year is on the gap between what platform providers offer and what developers expect. The vast majority of developers are interested in education, technically accurate content, and timely support. Unfortunately, most providers are not meeting these expectations.

Based on an online survey of over 750 US-based full-time developers, Accenture quantified perceptions of various platforms’ developer ecosystems, the likelihood of recommending those platforms, and preferences for interacting with developer ecosystems.

So, how did the top platform providers stack up?

Education over monetization

Across all ages and levels of experience, developers want more professional development. Nearly three-quarters of respondents want to learn new skills or improve their current abilities from their platform providers. That’s not much of a surprise; developers always want to learn new things. But expecting some new technique from AWS or Azure?

Education and learning new skills is highly valued among developers (and employers). In comparison, Accenture found that developers are less interested in monetization opportunities on the various platforms. Apparently, only 64% of developers said that they needed to make money through a developer ecosystem and slightly less responded that profitability was the most important reason behind choosing an ecosystem.

Why the difference between the responses between education and money? Well, education and skills are closely tied to future earnings. The more you have, the more likely you are that it will pay off in the future. So, yes, developers want a return on their investment into a given ecosystem but skills development comes first.

SEE MORE: React: The skill employers want vs. the skill developers [don’t] have

What do we want? Accuracy and support!

Other surprising responses from the survey show that developers are highly concerned with having technically accurate content and timely support from platform providers. This isn’t trivial: nine out of ten developers rated both of these as critical factors, yet less than one in four agreed that developer ecosystems gave them the content that they needed.

This is one big area where all the platforms could improve: correct, up-to-date documentation. It’s not sexy or cutting edge, but it’s absolutely crucial for developers to succeed. Documentation keeps developers from reinventing the wheel, over and over and over again. (Or from falling into the same trap.) A little extra effort spent on making sure all the notes are accurate and updated goes a long way.

Additionally, support from the provider themselves ranks quite high, especially among developers who spend a lot of time working. Knowledgeable support and empathetic customer services are seen as more important than a speedy response that might be wrong.

SEE MORE: GitHub survey: Incomplete documentation is the biggest problem encountered in open source

Where do providers stack up?

When selecting an ecosystem, openness and integration is important to developers. So is market relevance – stability in a platform is ranked at 90%.However, one interesting thing is that there’s space for the various platforms to differentiate themselves from the pack. Almost half of developers think that platform providers are more or less the same and offer the same levels of usefulness.

That’s not to say there aren’t any differences:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) is seen as the most developer-friendly platform and the most future-looking platform.
  • Microsoft Azure gets the highest marks for market relevance. Developers are most satisfied with Microsoft Azure for accuracy, currency, findability and readability of content, timeliness, and technical background of support.
  • Android ranks high for with the level of knowledgeable and personalized support. It also has the best overall reputation.
  • Google Cloud Platform cares most for the needs of professional developers.
  • iOS has the most credibility among hard-core developers.

That being said, Accenture concluded that these strengths show that all of the platforms have many opportunities to improve the way the engage and support the developer community.

Jane Elizabeth
Jane Elizabeth is an assistant editor for

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