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Having just booked my flights to SAP TechEd 2016 in Las Vegas, I’ve spent the past week or so previewing the brilliant agenda, particularly what’s new for InnoJam & DemoJam. This year’s event, being held September 19-23, has a few exciting twists to what’s become an awe-inspiring testing ground and showcase for developers and designers innovating with SAP technologies. The only route to DemoJam starts by participating in InnoJam, which takes place the weekend before TechEd. Six winning teams from InnoJam will advance to compete in DemoJam. My colleague, Ian Thain, Developer Evangelist and Global Developer Relations at SAP, detailed the updated challenge in his recent blog.

Meantime, I asked four time DemoJam winner will.powell, Head of Innovation at Keytree, to share his team’s strategies for beating the competition. This is the eighth competition for the team at Keytree, a U.K.-based global SAP partner.

“DemoJam has given us the opportunity to show exactly what the art of the possible is. It’s a great test bed to bring together business data using SAP’s latest and greatest offerings with the newest technology such as virtual reality, augmented reality and internet of things,” said Powell. “We pack a suitcase full of devices, libraries, ideas and more that will allow us to push the limits of what we can possibly do for our clients using SAP innovations like SAP HANA Cloud Platform.”

Powell said his team (pictured at right) is eager to defend their Hackathon championship title for last year’s award-winning healthcare entry, S.M.I.L.E. 🙂, a sensor-based employee wellness solution that analyzes big data using SAP HANA. That application is now in development and slated for 2017 release.

“We’ve turned our learning from DemoJam into an affordable, easy to use solution for our clients that want to improve employee health for greater productivity,” said Power.

Calling DemoJam a gateway to the future is an understatement. “We often get comments from individuals and companies like ‘Aren’t you the guys that did the really cool stuff at DemoJam?’ which is usually followed by ‘Could that application do …’ or “can that tech help with …’ which open the doors to new opportunities,” said Powell.

Here are a few informed tips for aspiring winners:

Do your homework: Find out everything relevant to this year’s theme of Education and Research. It’s a level playing field as Powell sees it. “We don’t know the challenge in advance, but we do know the sector. Look in the media and online to find out what is going on in this area, and think about what SAP technology would work. This will help speed up your response to the actual challenge and make your idea more relevant,” he said.

Once registered, participants can and should take full advantage of SAP experts who will share content in a special SAP JAM collaboration room.

Assemble your team early: When each person understands their designated responsibilities, it’s easier to begin building as soon as you know the challenge.

“We’ve found that the teams formed well in advance of the competition tend to be more successful because they know their respective roles and can get quickly to the heart of the problem,” said Thain.

Skills allocation is especially important when facing a 30-hour coding crunch. Whether you’re participating as a team or individual, Powell said it’s crucial to know and play to your strengths. “Time is short; focusing on what you can do really well makes all the difference.”

Push boundaries and make them come alive: “Look for the magic moments,” said Powell. “Applications need to shine, so a couple of impressive moments within your application can make the difference between good and amazing.”

Above all, have fun! 

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