The Power of the Technical Evangelist

Nintex Technical Evangelist Mohammed Qattan was born in Libya and raised in Jordan. His mother grew up in Egypt and his family name is common in the Gulf Region. He speaks several Arabic dialects and understands even more.

His background and language skills enable him to connect with all the people in the region he covers for Nintex. And it illustrates one of the biggest assets a technical evangelist can bring to the role – connection.

“Having the technical knowledge is essential and that can be covered by training,” Mohammed says, “but having the ability to connect with people and being able to gain their trust is another essential skill.”

Mohammed is among Nintex’s more than a dozen technical evangelists. Our technical evangelists speak frequently at events around the globe. They demo our products to customers, partners and people interested in learning about our platform. They write blog posts. They’re active on social media. And they excel at building connections.

What Do Technical Evangelists Do?

The responsibilities of a technical evangelist vary from company to company – and in fact, at some companies they’re known as product evangelists, technology evangelists or software evangelists. But at its heart, evangelists work on increasing the support for a particular technology and establishing it as an industry standard.

At Nintex, technical evangelists are a cross between Marketing and Sales. The majority of our technical evangelists possess more than 10 years of technology experience, and for some, that includes expertise with multiple systems and with computer development.

“Essentially the technical evangelist role isn’t to be a salesperson, it’s to be a trusted advisor,” Dan Stoll, Technical Product Marketing & Evangelism Manager, says. “You’re not going to get spin from a technical evangelist. You’ll get, ‘This is what is.’ ”

Before exploring Nintex’s technical evangelists, let’s look at the history of technical evangelism.

What is the History of Technical Evangelism?

Reports vary, but either Mike Murray or Mike Boich of Apple Computer’s Macintosh computer division coined the term “software evangelist.“ In 1982, Steve Jobs hired both – Mike Murray to head up the Mac marketing group and Mike Boich to assemble a team that would evangelize to developers.

“Their job was to persuade software developers to create software programs for the Mac, and it proved to be a very successful effort – so crucial that the Macintosh might not have survived without the evangelists,” according to Steve Job’s Tips for Hiring Your A-Team in Entrepreneur magazine.

In 1983, Mike Boich hired his former Stanford roommate, Guy Kawasaki, to be Apple’s first chief evangelist. Guy has since written more than a dozen books, including Selling the Dream: How to Promote Your Product, Company, or Ideas – and Make a Difference – Using Everyday Evangelism.

Considered the father of evangelism marketing, Guy wrote in “Selling the Dream” that he appreciates that “evangelist” comes from a Greek word that means “bringing the good news.” He defines evangelism as “convincing people to believe in your product or idea as much as you do.”

“Selling a dream means transforming a vision – that is, an insight that is not yet perceptible to most people – into a cause and getting people to share the cause,” he writes. “Thus, evangelism is the purest form of selling because it involves sharing ideas, insights and hope in contrast to exchanging goods or services for money.”

What Makes an Effective Technical Evangelist?

Nintex’s technical evangelists possess diverse backgrounds, with many in the technology industry for more than a decade.

Dan and Brad Orluk, for instance, were senior IT workers before joining Nintex. Alex Joly was a developer. Several technical evangelists worked as consultants and technical evangelists at Microsoft.

While there’s “quite a lot of depth on the team,” Dan says Nintex technical evangelists share a few characteristics important for any successful technical evangelist.

Ability to speak everyone’s language

While technical evangelists need in-depth technical knowledge of the products in order to evangelize successfully about product features, they must tailor their communication to their audience, Dan says. Sometimes, that means explaining complex information in an easy-to-understand way.

“Not all technical evangelists are developers but we know how to talk to developers,” he says. “We can have business conversations. We can have technical conversations. Usually a good trait of an evangelist is someone who can explain things to someone who might not be able to understand technical jargon.”

Problem-solving personality

As a SharePoint consultant for years before joining Nintex, Palesa Sikwane regularly solved companies’ business challenges. It’s an important skill that he and our other technical evangelists bring to their role, helping partners and customers.

“I come from a background where I built many Nintex-based solutions, and I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. I naturally enjoy helping others and problem-solving,” he says of helping customers.

Equally rewarding? Helping partners.

“I have a workaround for anything and some of my experience can be shared amongst the partners in my region,” he says.

Understanding of industry challenges

Mohammed enjoys improving people’s work experiences by introducing them to new Nintex products or improving their existing processes. His business experience in major industries like telecommunications, oil and gas, and banking gives him an understanding of the unique challenges they face – and how our platform can help.

“I help my partners to better understand the benefits of our products and how to relate them with real business scenarios for our customers,” he says.

 

Questions about technical evangelism? Connect with DanPalesa and Mohammed on Twitter.