Barriers to Adoption
If you are asking people to pay for training and your competitors are not, you are in trouble. This isn’t a dig on any vendor or any specific company. But if we look at this current software landscape. It’s very competitive some can argue more so now than ever. Enabling developers is part of what I do. Part of my job that I love is taking a method or even a product and getting them excited about using it. Wanting to use it and if you are lucking moving their career to adopt it.
But as I do this, I myself have to do training either for partnering requirements or to know what the product does. I don’t mind this. I have created training programs in the past. I go through and not only learn or review the content but I see how they put the materials together. Some are good and some are awful, regardless if you paid for it or not. To date the worse course I have ever taken required a partner to pay for. Now this post isn’t about treating your partners are a revenue stream with fees and training. I will save that for another day.
This post is about barriers to adoption. If you are selling anything, you want to make it as easy as possible for everyone. If you are selling a new food processor, that makes chef’s lives easer. Or selling a new database that makes developers job easier. It makes no difference. You want adoption quick and fast. Not only for the professionals but also for amateurs. If a chef has that food processor at home chances are he might ask for one at work. So only selling something like this to restaurants causes a barrier.
When it comes to training some companies are doing this right. They have software and they push as much free training and enablement as possible. Where I am seeing others still charging for this. Yes, we can agree that the cost of putting training together is high. The effort is hard and the way technology changes you are updating this all the time. But making this available for more people will increase the adoption of it. This then begs the question “well, who can do this work!?” Well, if the training is free or if you pay for it, it should be the same.
The tools to do the job are no different. I started my career back in the Java world. Many people don’t know that. But I soon transitioned to .NET. The market I lived in is almost all .NET. But the barriers to adoption, at that time, were high. You had to pay for Visual Studio on top of having to buy Windows for it to run on. At that time the cloud wasn’t a thing. But being a .NET developer was hard. I couldn’t go home and code and tinker. Hone my skills. But back in college I rocked RedHat and Java. Both, were free and were still free post college. Now, some of that has changed, I get it Oracle charges for Java and RedHat is changing as we speak.
Don’t get me wrong I am not that guy talking about “free college for everyone!” Meaning I want free stuff for all. What I am saying is that if you lower some barriers of entry your rate of adoption will be higher. And this is for sure a balance that like training you will have to update.
Tier your training. Make the average developer’s need free. If you need more hands sure charge for it. This works out for companies and for individuals. Companies are not burdened with this for the average developer. You want these companies to buy your software don’t making training a tax to use it. When this training is free, good developers will do it on their own. They see the value in improving themselves. If a developer is struggling they can opt for the easy path of paid training. We see something close to this with some video games. You can play for free and beat it but you have to put time in to do so. Or you can pay and get the easy path to beat the game. If you look at that model, the players who didn’t pay are generally better than the ones who did.
Community editions. Please stop with the 30 - 60 - 90 day trials. Offer up a community edition of what you are selling. If you are a productized open source company. There is the open source version, if you want to offer a community tier of your product great. Make the paid version the one people want their companies to buy. Look how companies like JetBrains does it. PyCharm has a community edition. But the paid version has all the bell’s and whistles an enterprise user needs. Microsoft has learned this hard lesson with Visual Studio. But their community edition is damn near enterprise ready. If you are a developer at home honing your skills or a student starting off, you have what you need to get better. Where this doesn’t work is SaaS and I get that and I am not arguing SaaS. But asking someone to get 30 day’s to fall in love and get excited over your product is ridiculous. Especially when it’s something they install.
Small changes, like community editions and free training, creates bridges for adoptions. Paid only training and timed software trials build a wall to stop adoption. I see more success with companies who are building these bridges. I also see some of the bigger older ones building these walls. Do not be the company building walls, be the one that builds bridges for adoption.