What is a technology evangelist?

What exactly do you do?

It is a question I have been asked more than once, especially after seeing my business card or hear my title, “Chief Technology Evangelist”, mentioned.  Fortunately more and more companies and organizations are becoming familiar with the role of the tech evangelist.  Probably the most well known Technology Evangelist is Guy Kawasaki, he was Apple’s first, and I dare say the industry’s first, technology evangelist.

For me, in my own journey, I have been refining the job description of the “Chief Technology Evangelist” and what its role responsibilities should be.  It has evolved, and as I mentioned, I’m happy to see more companies embrace this type of role.

The Chief Technology Evangelist serves and reaches multiple constituents.  In no particular order, below is my short list of constituents.

  1. Clients
  2. Partners (resellers)
  3. Industry Pundits, Influencers and Bloggers
  4. Industry Analysts and Media
  5. Engineering/Development
  6. Product Management/Marketing
  7. Sales/Pre-Sales
  8. Executive Team

You can see the role can reach quite a broad audience, and by design it is organized as such.  The role of the evangelist, if you simply take it from the dictionary is to spread the word with zeal or an enthusiastic advocate.  In fact, this is a very large part of the role, but just as important as enthusiastically advocating on behalf of your employer or client and its products, is listening.  A good technology evangelist will not only help spread the word, but will listen to those he/she is spreading the word to.

Without client feedback, products are developed in a vacuum.  Without understanding what drives the business of your partners (resellers) you may never have a channel program that removes the barriers of selling your solution.  Without the Industry pundits, influencers, analysts and media writing about you – you may never get the reach you fully intended and deserve.  This is the essence of the CTE.

The Art of Listening

One of the things I detest is poor customer communication.  Not just “telling” but listening.  If you ever tried to cancel a service due to quality issues, you know exactly to what I’m referring.  I found this out to be true when I was dealing with my cell phone company.  Never once did they ask me why I wanted to cancel a particular service, but only giving me options to extend it for 90 days, free of charge, to cover any problems I may have faced previously.

Now, if a customer has a problem with your service, then it IS NOT time to try to evangelize why your solution is the greatest – it is time to listen to the concerns and dutifully take that feedback into engineering/development, product management and some of the executive team to illustrate what customers are looking for and why.  It is amazing what happens when you listen to your customers, and empathize with the challenges.

So the role of the evangelist is much more than just a mouth piece, or it should be, it is the conduit to help deliver a better product development process, more strategic messaging, and to let everyone know your solution exists and  you are a company that listens to its customers!

Chapa, signing off

 

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