What is Technical Enablement?
Technical enablement uses technology and digital solutions to help users harness the full potential of your product and become expert users.
In this post, you will learn about the best way to facilitate technical enablement through technical marketing and hands-on product education.
Technical Enablement Definition
Enablement involves empowering others to more easily do their work better; it increases their potential. Technical enablement also involves the strategic use of technology and digital solutions to empower businesses to improve results, boost productivity, and solve problems.
To achieve true technical enablement, you need to ensure your users can harness the full potential of your product. Product adoption isn’t enough, instead, you need to educate your users on the entirety of your feature set, and make sure they understand how your platform works and how it can drive better results.
If users aren’t able to access the resources and training to get to grips with your product, then they won’t be able to get the most out of it and may look elsewhere.
The goal is to help users become an expert in your product by improving user adoption, utilization, and engagement. Technical enablement can help you get there.
When targeting a technical audience and software developers in technical marketing, you need to take a different approach. Listing benefits in a fact sheet or writing blog posts isn’t enough. But, what techniques can you use to ensure your technical enablement initiatives are resonating with your audience of developers and software engineers?
Why is Technical Enablement Important?
Technical enablement is important for software vendors that sell complex solutions to technical audiences such as software engineers, developers, and system administrators. When catering to these demographics, technical enablement takes the shape of empowering developers and subject matter experts to become a driving force for your business by using your software.
Technical enablement goes beyond simply providing the tools and technology necessary to transform the way developers and technical audiences work, it also covers making sure the technology transformation project is a success. It involves embedding the product within the company and making sure everyone knows how to use it to a point where it not only makes people’s lives easier but it also becomes an indispensable component of day-to-day operations.
Ideally, technical enablement leads to the kind of user adoption and change management programs that enable business transformation and leads to new and improved ways of working.
When you are targeting a technical audience of software developers, focusing on the specifications and key features of a product through technical enablement is key for winning a group of buyers who know their stuff and aren’t easily impressed by generalized product overviews.
What Does a Technical Enablement Manager Do?
Technical enablement managers have a similar role to software sales engineers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sales engineers “sell complex scientific and technological products or services to businesses. They must have extensive knowledge of the products’ parts and functions and must understand the scientific processes that make these products work.”
But technical enablement managers aren’t salespeople. Developers and technical users won’t tolerate cold sales techniques such as phone calls and static product demos. Technical enablement managers use technical marketing techniques to empower technical audiences and buyers to better understand or use your product. Below we list technical enablement manager responsibilities.
Establish Technical Expertise
As you’re interacting with a technical audience, you can’t merely provide fact sheets and brochures that list benefits and expect that to lead to broad user adoption and understanding of your product.
Technical enablement managers require an in-depth technical understanding and knowledge of technical use cases, with the ability to answer questions from a savvy audience without trying to sell them something. In some cases, this may even involve explaining that your product isn’t right for the specific use cases or won’t solve their problems.
Create Technical Content
A technical enablement manager needs to provide guidance about the features and how they work through the creation of technical content. This content should outline how to implement specific use cases or best practices for new technologies.
Self-paced courses help your audience to learn how to use your product. You can tailor these courses for different learning styles and different types of developers with different roles and responsibilities.
With self-paced courses, developers get real-time feedback as they go through the content, including knowledge checks and quizzes. They’re validating their understanding of the product in an interactive way. They can also see the clear progression towards the end of the course, helping to nudge them forward and to keep them motivated to learn more about your product.
But instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach, create personalized learning paths that are tailored around specific roles, product features, career paths, programming languages, or use cases. For example, if your product is used to build many different things, you want content that is tailored to particular use cases that developers will be working on. Or, you might develop a special course for a Python developer that’s different from the course for a Java developer.
This content also needs to be easy to find and access, which is why you should provide a specific zone on your website that is tailored to your audience. Having a dedicated zone will allow you to present technical product content in the tone and detail that developers expect.
Build an Engaged Community
Building a community around your product and contributing to other communities ensures that you are involved in the conversation about your product’s issues. You can either respond to these issues yourself or encourage peer-to-peer support from other developers. This community can also help you establish a first-tier reputation for supporting your developers. Even when the community’s feedback is negative, you want to hear what they are saying and understand their concerns.
Building a developer community is important for two reasons:
- It gives developers a place where they can seek help regarding your product
- It ensures business stakeholders that they are adopting a product that won’t just disappear and they know they will be able to get support when necessary
To build this community, you need to run and promote product events and meetups (either online or in-person) aimed at technical audiences. You should also represent the company and speak at third-party technical events, set up a dedicated community portal to promote community discussions, create message boards for developers to share ideas, and provide educational opportunities for developers to learn about your product’s benefits and shortcomings.
Be a User Advocate
Technical enablement managers connect users with the product team to make sure that their voices are heard and to ensure there is a feedback loop that aligns the product roadmap with their wants and needs. They act as advocates by understanding their users’ goals and use cases and suggesting ways they can change their processes and configurations to make sure your product meets their needs.
If users are having issues with a particular feature or have other feedback surrounding user experience, then the technical enablement manager can pass on this feedback to ensure that the product team understands how their solution is being received.
Provide Ongoing Education
Product education isn’t a one-and-done experience. Technical enablement managers need to be able to advise on technical support and product adoption whether it’s pre-sales, free trial, freemium models, post-sales, or during the renewal processes. They need to ensure there are educational resources that users can use no matter what they are doing with your product and what stage of the sales cycle they are in.
It’s important to continuously evolve best practices to technical product adoption to ensure customer success. This includes content and documentation and extends to hands-on product experiences through software sandboxes.
How Software Sandboxes Can Support Technical Enablement
A crucial part of technical enablement is hands-on training and education. Users of complex software, like developers can only solve business problems for their organization when they’re confident that your product is capable of helping them. Software sandboxes can facilitate technical enablement and demonstrate how your product solves prospects’ problems.
A hands-on learning experience enables your users to quickly understand how your product helps them and provides validation that the product does what your website says it does. As it is a sandbox environment, they can manipulate the environment to see how your product performs and whether it will help them solve the problem or use case they are working on.
Users need sandbox environments and interactive product learning experiences that let them try out your product in real-world scenarios and understand how they can use it in their day-to-day lives. When this is populated with real-world data, then they can understand your product better and can dive in immediately rather than having to worry about lengthy downloads and installations or compatibility with programs. Hands-on software sandboxes will also ensure that they get a learn-by-doing environment that shows them how your product solves the problem they’re working on.
Once a developer has spun up a sandbox, you can use other educational content to help them better understand how it works and make sure they are using all the features to the fullest. By turning your existing developer documentation into immersive, educational experiences, you can improve developer growth, developer adoption, product usage, API calls, and built applications.
Technical Enablement in Action
To understand better how you can use technical enablement to ensure better product adoption, you can learn from companies that are already reaping the benefits.
Chef, a software company that builds DevOps automation tools, built educational product courses through its Learn Chef online university to attract technical buyers like DevOps, software engineers, and system administrators. Moving to Appsembler improved the educational experience for DevOps learners and accelerated how fast they could add and modify courses. They also built a centralized location for all of Chef’s technical courses with the added enhancement of frictionless product sandboxes.
Learn Chef online university teaches Chef, DevOps, and Automation skills
Real-time data platform Redis was looking for a way to more effectively reach and educate its technical audience and acquire new users. Redis selected Appsembler to host and deliver their hands-on, self-paced courses. In addition to expanding their products’ reach and educating the world on their open-source software, Redis also provided their technical users with an easy way to complete hands-on, software exercises during online training and removed the friction between their learners and their products.
Redis delivers self-paced, hands-on courses as part of its technical enablement effort
A Platform to Support Technical Enablement
A developer marketing platform provides the foundation for technical enablement by enabling you to build frictionless and educational product experiences that empower users to get the most out of your platform. This platform provides educational content about your product that lets developers experience its features through hands-on learning, experimenting with it, and figuring out how it works.
By creating your product courses on a developer marketing platform, you can reinforce and emphasize the more important, most visited, or most asked-about sections of the developer documentation, enabling users to find the information they need to solve problems and understand your platform better for themselves.
A software sandbox — such as Appsembler Virtual Labs — provides a frictionless environment (i.e. no installation, pre-configured, and pre-populated with data) for developers to have a hands-on experience with your product. Using these labs, you can create a highly customizable, cloud-based learning environment that launches with the click of a button. With virtual labs, you can create personalized learning paths that are tailored to the type of problem your users are working on, or around a feature you want to highlight.