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TechEd 2011 DemoJam – A fun event but...

I really enjoyed this year's DemoJam though it was an enjoyment with a niggling concern that the show had lost the focus and soul of DemoJam. I also strangely felt I had been marketed to rather than seen genuine competition between diverse DemoJammers.  

There’s no doubt with the new format that Marek and the rest of the SAP Research team involved in Brisbane (Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi ,oi) deserved to win as they showed us something really innovative and awesome but has the point of DemoJam changed?

So what’s wrong?

Okay – I believe DemoJam is about innovation in the SAP Enterprise space, and all the participants definitely were innovating in their space (I was really impressed with all of them); but in my opinion it was more a show of SAP products/features (new or upcoming) than a competition.  Even the host would give biased information about each presentation (albeit in an entertaining way) but this added to the fact that it was more of a sell than a true competition.  There were a couple of entries that were more traditional entries but the playing field was not really fair in my opinion (though one got really close).

In previous years, Al Templeton and myself would say – “We need to enter this” – “We can win this” - then last year we did and won - but with this year’s entries – there’s no way we would have even tried. For us, it wasn't months of development, but there was definitely some significant personaltime invested by us into DemoJam.  And it wasn’t just us – most entries I believe were all in the same boat (shout out to John Astill).

See to me, DemoJam is best when it is a truly geeky event where developers/innovators get to show off something cool and practical they’ve done in their own time for the enterprise.  It’s not SAP professionals showing something they’ve being doing as part of their day job for the last 6-12 months or longer.

So to add to my angst, when we won, we had no qualms in encouraging others to compete in the 2011 competition but looking back at the change in format, I’m worried about our advice?  

Is DemoJam now a Marketing Event?

I can't help think that as soon as you open up DemoJam to presenting your day job - it becomes simply an exercise in SAP marketing and who's got the best use-case/technology.  If this was the scope, then I’m surprised porting ABAP development into Eclipse wasn’t includes as that would be another excellent DemoJam idea (maybe it is at another venue - if so - good luck!).

HANA – Not sure why this word appears here, it appears to be mentioned everywhere at the moment whether it is needed or not.

Prosed New (or is it Old) Rules

So I’m nearing the end of this scattered rant; but how about some rules for next year’s DemoJam:

  • Demo must be leveraging/working with SAP products in an innovative way with a real business use case
  • Demo must be put together in your own time and not part of your day job – Sure – if you have a 20% Google innovation policy – that’s probably okay but it shouldn’t be something you have a KPI to deliver!

And if the rules reflect this; I’ll pledge to enter next year’s event (hopefully Al will still join me) and challenge other’s to do so!

Some last Comments

Inclusion of Innojam Winner

While I’m still waiting for the SAP Mentors to release the “Do I Know you?” app; the inclusion of the InnoJam entry was a good thing.  If the above rules are put in place, then not only should the innojam be presented on stage, but they should be part of the competition and voted upon.

Finally a Shout Out to The Winning Team

Knowing where SAP Research came from with the demo – they definitely put in some effort to get ready for DemoJam.  Things were looking awesome at the beginning of the year when we first saw this at Mastering Technologies under the very cool but trademarkable name “Holodeck”; but the use-cases were limited at that point.  I still definitely have high hopes for this to be productionised ASAP – especially with the BPMN use-cases.  Anyway, kudos to the team and look forward to seeing more impressive stuff out of the research labs at SAP.