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Are Chief Revenue Officer and Developer Evangelist redundant positions?

Posted by Hemant Puthli on September 29, 2015

Answer by Hemant Puthli:

The Chief Revenue Officer's main job is to bring in revenue by maximizing revenue opportunities. This covers a variety of responsibilities related to the Sales function, including pricing. As far as the company's top line is concerned, the buck stops with the CRO. A company may not have a separate designation called CRO, but then the responsibilities involved will most likely be shared by the CEO in conjunction with other CxOs. This role does not intrinsically involve deep/ hands-on technical knowledge of the company's products – some working knowledge is usually adequate. Deep knowledge is a nice to have but not all that essential.

The role of a Developer Evangelist is to optimize communications among members of the developer community – between groups of developers within the company and developers outside the company (relevant to companies producing enabling technologies, software platforms, utilities etc., used by external developers as opposed to business users) and also between developers and various types of non-technical staff involved in company's value chain. A company may not need this role if it is not in the business of producing software that developers use to customize the product or build other applications based on the product. This role requires fairly deep technical knowledge and good communication skills, and does not intrinsically involve a revenue responsibility (though it indirectly impacts sales opportunities).

These two roles are quite distinct, and in a large, well-established company there may hardly be any overlap – they can complement each other to the extent that the Developer Evangelist can drive sales opportunities where the CRO needs someone with a technical background to push the technology to  a (prospective) customer's development group.

In smaller companies and startups, many roles tend to get telescoped into a few leaders who, typically, have multidimensional skills, can wear many hats and rapidly switch them. In such situations, one person may play both roles (assuming they possess the relevant competencies).

Whether a given company needs a CRO or a Developer Evangelist or both is an open question – a lot depends on the company's size, the complexity of the technology involved and the nature of its customer base.

Are Chief Revenue Officer and Developer Evangelist redundant positions?

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