Application Developers Alliance's Jake Ward on resolving 'disconnection' between devs, employers and media

Jake Ward, ADA


The Application Developers Alliance (ADA) serves as "a non-profit global membership organization supporting developers as creators, innovators and entrepreneurs." But what does this mean? And how does the ADA support the app development community? ADA President Jake Ward recently discussed the alliance with FierceDeveloper:

FierceDeveloper: What are the ADA's goals?

Jake Ward: Our goal is to advocate on behalf of developers from all industries, mobile, enterprise and consumer, and to support and promote an industry that creates and rewards entrepreneurial innovation and empowers developers as an essential workforce.

Fierce: Who can join the ADA? And how many members does the alliance currently have?

Ward: Alliance corporate members range from Fortune 500 companies to startups with a handful of employees. The alliance welcomes any company that depends on developers and their work to join as a corporate member. 

Tens of thousands of developers, including more than 60,000 registered in our network, utilize alliance resources, attend our events and provide insights into their work and the industry for our research and insights reports. Developers of all types and experiences, across all industries and technologies, can and should join the alliance.

Fierce: What distinguishes the ADA from other app development groups?

Ward: The Application Developers Alliance is a global non-profit, focused on supporting developers -- all developers. Our non-commercial perspective and singular focus on the developer workforce give us unique access to the industry -- companies and developers alike -- and the opportunity to deliver credible, valuable resources across industries and sectors.

Fierce: What is the ADA's greatest strength? 

Ward: The greatest strength is the width and breadth of our membership. The diversity of our corporate membership in size and focus is made even more remarkable by the reach of the developer network, including members in 151 countries globally. The collection and connection of that much talent and expertise enables us to create programs, resources and materials that meet the needs of developers working today -- and tomorrow. 

Fierce: What educational tools and services does the ADA offer that other app development groups do not?

Ward: Our App Strategy Workshops and Enterprise Development Workshop series have been the core of our educational components since we launched in 2012. These events gather hundreds of developers in person and thousands more online to hear from industry experts on topics like monetization, discoverability and what metrics can provide valuable insight to a startup entering the marketplace. These events, and the alliance's subject matter committees that support them, have generated dozens of white papers and educational products.

Today, we are preparing to launch a more formal professional development initiative aimed at creating curriculum, certification and career planning resources in specific industry verticals to help developers hone their skills and more easily demonstrate their core competencies on specific technologies or platforms. The importance and intricacy of software development has increased tremendously, and with it, the need to more broadly and comprehensively support the people building that software.

Fierce: What should someone expect when he or she joins the ADA?

Ward: For individual developers joining the alliance, we are a resource for information, research, educational materials and events. We are also the developer's voice on public policy issues in Washington, D.C., and the European Union. Our developer members should expect us to deliver on our commitment to support them and the industry. 

Fierce: What feedback have you received from ADA members over the years? And how have you worked to improve the alliance based on this feedback?

Ward: We continuously evaluate our programs and member benefits to better serve our membership. Over the years, we have received words of encouragement from hundreds of individuals and gathered thousands more pieces of feedback through surveys and formal evaluations.

There have been three consistent themes to this feedback over the past four years: first, that the developer workforce needed an organization like the alliance, and that it is an indicator of the profession's rapid maturation. Second, that as a non-profit with a global network of companies and developers we should -- in fact, must -- become a credible disseminator of research and insights. The industry, the companies that comprise it and the developers that drive it would all benefit from more information. And finally, that any help we can give to better understand the developer workforce would be much appreciated; specifically, that not all developers do the same job or even work in the same "industry," and the general disconnection between employers, the media and the public at large makes the profession of developer hard to pursue, let alone perfect.

We have heard this feedback, and over the past year undergone a number of internal changes, including adding new staff in our membership and research departments and prioritizing our member services to focus on solving these three problems. We are excited to see the results. 

Fierce: What are the key reasons an app developer should join your alliance?

Ward: The alliance is an organization focused on the needs of developers and working in their best interest, providing the resources, insights and support they need to succeed. And membership is free. The real question is, why wouldn't a developer join the alliance?