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If you want to inspire developers to innovate on your platform, an SDK isn't enough.

Hardware without software is an expensive rock, and an application platform without developers isn't much more useful. But it's difficult to attract and maintain robust developer support when today's connected world is flooded with opportunities to create apps.


No matter how compelling the technology, an SDK just isn't enough.


Scott Burnell recently talked with i2Integration about the importance of a developer ecosystem. The Global Lead, Business Development & Partner Management for the Ford Developer Program explained why the i2Integration-supported Developer Portal, App Catalog and other features have been crucial to his team's success.


"A developer ecosystem is really a true ecosystem," he said, "in that it has a number of different components that all hold together different areas of developer needs. It gives them that ability to take an idea all the way through fruition, into an actual product."


Burnell cited the strong tool set as a key feature for developer empowerment; members of the Ford Developer Program have access to information, personnel, traditional assets such as SDKs and developer guides, and extensive support.


A lot of the feedback he hears from developers is how helpful the ecosystem is for getting started.


"Whether you're building software, enabling things to talk to each other over IoT, or just brainstorming and creating brand new products," Burnell said, the big question is, what's Step One? "So, really having a good base and a good jumping-off point, where you can give the background to developers, they're very appreciative of that."


Better yet, developers tell his team that they love being able to count on information and resources being continuously updated and maintained.


They don't want to go looking for an answer for an issue that they're having, or a hurdle that they can't quite get over, and see material that was placed on the website three or four years ago," Burnell said. "They want to have the most up-to-date and pertinent information so they can actually get the answer they're looking for."


One of the most important drivers of developer engagement is the human component. When support and guidance is available via phone, email, Slack, blog posts or even in-person events, the trust factor is much stronger.


But how important can a developer ecosystem be to actually attracting developers and maintaining their engagement? Can i2Integration's services really be a powerful driver of third-party application support?


"It's been the backbone of the Ford Developer Program," Burnell said. "A commercial-facing, end-user facing asset like a developer site is invaluable. One of the whole reasons we spun up the developer site and made it a big component is simply the number of man-hours it takes. I mean, the world's a big place, and we don't have a really big team."


For Burnell, overseeing platform developments across several continents means it's vital that developer resources—tools, downloads, support systems that aren't just based out of one office—are available worldwide, 24/7, to cater to the needs of all developers.


"The impact is obviously seen on the number of developers we have who are still joining the program, and those who have stayed around and are still active," Burnell said. "The fact that we have about 20,000 developers inside the ecosystem that i2Integration has helped Ford build is a good testament that the material we provide, the resources we provide are what the developers are looking for."


Of course, the end goal is application support—and Burnell is more than pleased with the ideas and products inspired and supported by the developer ecosystem, which currently has launched about 120 apps around the world.


"In the automotive world, if you combine all of the apps that have been launched from all the other OEMs globally, it doesn't even come close to what we've done," he said.


And, Burnell said, there's more to come. "I think the updates that we've been working on, to the tools, and the developer site itself, are really going to impress the developer community. It's going to make things easier for them, actually increase their capability to get content directly into Ford—and we're also expanding that across into the world of SDL and the open source connectivity system that we're a part of. i2Integration is integral in pulling that together so we can have those systems talk to each other as well." 


Burnell believes the impact of i2Integration's services and features can be felt all the way inside the vehicle—in user experience itself.


"I think because we've stayed on top of the tools and the messaging, and really because we've stayed in front of the developers, as we've grown the capabilities in-vehicle—from the original SYNC with the two-line dot-matrix display, to SYNC3 now with the nice color display, with touchscreen, pinch-and-zoom capabilities, with the voice capabilities that we've got now—we've had a pretty good seamless evolution inside the vehicle."


Updates, changes and new features have been rolled out to developers, sometimes even before their commercial launch. The smooth rollout of the SYNC3 platform is a prime example.


"As the vehicles roll off, there were apps that were already capable of working with that new interface," Burnell said. "It's been a very important tool to be able to make sure our owners have the best applications and components that are working with the new hardware and software that we're putting in the vehicles."



When we talk about building stable software, it doesn’t get any better than this

This is amazing. When we talk about building stable software, it doesn’t get any better than this.

In Gdansk, Poland there is an auto repair shop that is still running a Commodore 64 computer for its operations.

Commodore’s USA Facebook page recently posted:

This C64C used by a small auto repair shop for balancing driveshafts has been working non-stop for over 25 years! And despite surviving a flood it is still going...

Seeing this both makes me smile, and painfully aware of every grey hair that remains in my head.

Back in 1983, I learned basic programming on the C64. After school, I would go to my family-run advertising agency and write code for a sales lead program we developed (CRM wasn’t a thing yet), and then go home to play Zaxxon or appease my older brother by developing a program that could predict the next Lotto numbers (it couldn’t). The Commodore 64 holds a special place in my heart and was truly the foundation of my eventual career. In fact, a Commodore 64 sits in my company’s lobby today. It still works after all these years!



Ford Announces Release of SYNC 3 Emulator

For those looking to build mobile apps for the automotive world, this is a very big deal! The Ford SYNC 3 AppLink Emulator helps developers create mobile apps for Ford vehicles that are equipped with the SYNC 3 infotainment system. The emulator allows a smartphone to connect to the developer’s workstation as though it would normally connect with SYNC 3. From there, developers can accurately build their apps and see exactly how their app will function in a SYNC 3 vehicle. This new capability, released free by Ford, will dramatically speed the development, testing and deployment times for new apps coming soon to Ford vehicles.


For more information:


As i2Integration provides the technology support of the Ford Developer Program, including website, mobile apps, global hosting and data integration, we see the release of the SYNC 3 Emulator as a powerful addition to bringing new developers to the Program. With more than 15 million SYNC-equipped vehicles on the road globally (and 43 million expected by 2020), that’s a tremendous amount of potential for the mobile developer market.


For Ford and i2, it's exciting times ahead.



i2Integration Takes Reins of Mousetrap Mobile Applications and Services

Lansing, Mich.— A Detroit-area mobile strategies agency will transition its applications and services to Lansing-based information technology company, i2Integration. The transition comes after the unexpected death of Mousetrap's founder and president, Greg Nasto.


Mousetrap’s core services included web and graphic design, mobile apps, text (SMS) messaging, social media management and online digital marketing for associations.


“To ensure that Greg’s dream lives on and our service continues, we have been working closely with i2Integration,” said Jessica MacConaghy, Mousetrap Mobile’s former project manager. “i2 has been working with associations for 20 years, so we knew they have the means, capability and experience to take this on quickly. We also felt strongly that i2 has the standards and morals that reflected our own, so we were very confident that this was a great fit to move forward.”


John Forsberg, CEO of i2Integration, was introduced to Nasto through the tight-knit association community.


"I got to see over the years how he and his staff built a hard-earned reputation for their work and responsiveness," Forsberg said. "Our mission now is to continue that level of excellence.”


In the months ahead, i2Integration will complete the various projects in-progress for the association conference season.


Forsberg said i2 will begin to gather feedback from its new clients, evaluate the various mobile applications and begin to lay out plans for improvement and expansions for 2017.




Automaker Partners with i2Integration on Mobile App Integration

i2Integration is helping Ford Motor Co. expand the connected car on a global scale, and setting the stage for a growing presence in developer program creation and management.

As the technology company behind the digital assets in the Ford Developer Program, the Lansing-based web and application developer is playing a key role in establishing the Detroit automaker as the leader in integrating mobile apps with vehicles.

i2Integration provides technology support for both developer and consumer facing resources within the Ford Developer Program for AppLink which is the Ford product built upon the open-source SmartDeviceLink (SDL) platform.

"Other automakers are picking up Ford's open source architecture," said Scott Burnell, who heads the Ford program. "This is a brand-new world for a very old industry, and it's going to grow -- exponentially.”

Right now, some 15,000 developers are part of the FordDev Program, from Pandora and Major League Baseball to one-person shops that span nearly 100 countries.

"What we really like about having i2Integration on board is, we’re a global company but we're still where the entire automotive industry began, in Michigan," Burnell said. "It's great to have a Michigan company working alongside us that can work at a global level."

For i2Integration, that global capability includes developing, establishing and managing systems, content and mobile apps for the development program in key locations worldwide, with each installation tailored for speed, reliability and accessibility.

“Our team is at the forefront of what is truly a transformation of the automotive and mobile app industries and the growth of the 'Internet of Things,'" said John Forsberg, CEO of i2Integration. “We're proud to be a key component in Ford’s lead in that transformation.

“There's also a real and growing need for industries to integrate their products with independent mobile app developers worldwide, whether that's retail, automotive, b2b or healthcare. i2Integration is perfectly positioned to support that need, and that is extremely exciting for us.”



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