Charting the Indian developer -

Charting the Indian developer

Software developers are a breed apart from the standard consumer. Writing a software program requires logic, a good and detailed memory, and a certain comfort with exactitude and creativity. Consequently, the people who write software programs tend to be smart, literal minded, logical people with good memories and organized thoughts–sometimes to an extreme.

Developers are typically very intelligent, good with numbers and abstract concepts, and have an eye for detail. They tend to live in and care about the programming life, and these highly analytical people are often passionate about chosen technologies with an almost religious fervor for or against a vendor or a vendor's technology. Developers can be extremely literal minded, sometimes to a fault. Because code logic is the process of following precise instructions, solving problems often requires exhaustive technical detail as well as a broad overview of the context in which a product is used.

All this makes them a very cohesive group when viewed from the point of view of developers vs. ordinary people. However, that homogeneity breaks down when we look at groups of developers in geographically diverse environments. Cultural and historical differences creep in and multiply and soon it becomes apparent that the concept of developers as a homogenous whole is full of cracks.

Evans Data Corp. conducts an annual study on the demographics and marketing habits of developers in North America. This year, it was replicated in India. Over three hundred Indian developers completed a comprehensive survey (see for some sample pages).

The differences between developers in the two geographies are striking. For example, the typical Indian developer is a single, 31-year-old male who has been working as a programmer for less than six years and earns less than 1,600,000 rupees per year, about $38,000. Thus he is far younger, poorer, less experienced, and less tied down than North American developers.Salary levels vary with market segment; the most money is made by those Indian developers writing enterprise-wide corporate applications for use within their own company. Happily, money isn't the primary motivator for many developers, although software development is one of the most lucrative jobs in India, and money is the second-most-cited motivation. The largest plurality of Indian developers create software because they love doing it for the challenge and fulfillment. A third of respondents indicate that the most powerful reason to be in software development is for “the logic and challenge of programming itself,” while another 30% are in it for the money.

Indian developers are well-educated; nearly 88% of them have college degrees, and over 40% have masters or doctoral degrees. Still, the rapid pace of change within the software technology industry dictates continuing education and training, and nearly half report having acquired most of their technical skills on the job or through teaching themselves. This kind of training becomes a necessity when technologies change as quickly as they do in the computer industry.

According to the survey, the best method of reaching the Indian developer is through online newsletters. Developers like them and also subscribe to several. E-mails from vendors are also a favorite with about a quarter of the Indian developers. This is good news for marketers, since either method is easy to cheap to implement.

When it comes to trade shows and seminars, Indian developers love them, but they don't want to pay for them and they don't want to travel far. They're open to webinars and while few have attended virtual trade shows, the Indian developer is open to the idea.

Today India has over 1.7 million software developers and this number is expected to grow by almost 25% by 2010. India is one of the fastest growing and most vibrant markets in software development today, but the developers that form this community reflect a different culture than any other, and that culture shapes the way you can most effectively reach out to them.

Janel Garvin is a senior analyst and founder of Evans Data Corp. She is actively involved with the company's international initiatives and is also heading up and directing studies on Linux and the open-source software movement, as well as all development tools and embedded systems studies. Garvin can be reached at

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