Demos that Make you Say WOW!
When was the Last Time you Walked out of a Demo and Said WOW?
For me it was in Croke Park at Ergo’s annual flagship event entitled '20-20 Vision'. Now, I know what you are going to say: “that’s too easy – you’re biased”'. Maybe, but I try to stay objective about these things so let me explain why I think the breakout session 'New Tools for Better Engagement' was genuinely the best demo I have seen in a longtime.
First and foremost, the demo was live. How many times have you gone into a demo and just as you’re getting excited the presenter says “Sorry folks, we are having issues with our xxx" -- choose a word from any of the following: server, platform, application, network, connectivity, provider, venue, cable… the list goes on. In summary, anything to get out of showing the audience a live product. We all know what the substitutes are: more PowerPoint slides, screenshots, videos, maybe even just a monologue.
Sometimes there are good and genuine reasons for this (we’ve all been there), but most of the time it’s a cop-out. Showing a live product processing real transactions in real time takes guts. Sure, there are things that can fail, that’s what live performance is all about. But it is testament to a solid software platform – and to an even more solid team – to take this challenge on and present a live solution running on production servers to over 200 people.
The second reason this was a great demo is because it showed multiple products and solutions, all interlinked and working logically with each other. A lot of thought went into the conception of the scenario. It was not technology for technology’s sake. It was a simple and yet rich exploration of what an integrated business solution platform can deliver.
So what was the Demo About? Let me give you a Brief Summary:
- A malfunction in a hospital generator is noticed by a member of the support staff
- He logs a ticket using a simple Windows 8 form on his mobile phone
- The ticket updates the company’s Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2011 cloud-based platform
- The company’s SharePoint 2013 portal homepage is automatically synchronised and updated with the latest ticket at the top of the list
- From the same SharePoint page, a manager notices the important ticket and sends an IM to his contact in the supplier company using Microsoft Lync 2013
- The supplier replies and starts a video conferencing session, again using Lync
- They share screens and – from the same SharePoint portal screen -- look at a SQL Server 2012 PowerView trend analysis of all the generators over the previous six months
- They agree there is a serious problem and arrange a meeting on-site the same day. From Outlook a meeting request with an embedded QR code is sent to the supplier.
- When the supplier arrives at the hospital, he swipes the QR code from his phone on a Windows 8 tablet kiosk app at reception. This automatically sends a message to inform the support manager to say he has arrived .
Wow! During the session I counted about seven different individual applications used, and probably about as many interfaces to tie them all together. Now that’s what I call a demo.
Fig 1: Screenshot from Demo
Another notable aspect of the session was that it involved three different demo presenters; Mark Bate, Neil Young and Rob Davies. Normally it’s just one. Sometimes it’s two, in a tag-team format. But rarely, if ever, have I seen three people run a complex and yet seamless demo.
Fig 2: Rob Davies, Subject Matter Expert - Lync presenting at 20-20 Vision
Finally, and perhaps the main reason why I think this was an exceptional demo: I thought about it afterwards. Like a great bottle of wine, this demo just seemed to get better and better with time. And probably the key to that was the combined effect of all the above elements. Any one of them by itself would have been good, but when you put them all together, the combined effect was truly powerful. In fact, I think that this was probably the best demo I have seen since I attended the launch of the Newton in Paris in 1993 – but that will have to be another days’ blog.