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Don't (just) win Demo Jams, win customers - the Keytree view

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed November 21, 2013
How do developers move beyond events like SAP Demo Jam into the market?

At SAP TechEd Las Vegas, Keytree won Demo Jam - again. Which means we had to do a video shoot with them - again (kidding guys!).

Prior to this year's video, we talked off-camera about a more serious topic: how do developers move beyond events like SAP Demo Jam into the market? Keytree had a very surprising update - and some suggestions on how to move from developer-centric events to getting (delightful!) apps in the hands of customers. Roll the tape!

The six minute video (embedded above) starts with Nic Doodson and Will Powell dishing on Keytree's latest Demo Jam winning app. The winning app had sexy hack appeal to spare, combining repurposed gaming tech with HANA capabilities to allow the user to put on a pair of 3D goggles (and leap motion tech for hand gestures) and literally navigate their way through the national electronic security grid in the UK. Here's a screen shot from the Demo Jam stage:


Another winning app - with a practical industry focus

Using this 3D rig, the user can 'fly' to any of the transmission towers, inspect it, and get localized information. It's a nifty app with a very practical twist (You can see the full live presentation on the Demo Jam replay - Keytree begins at the 43:00 mark).

That's all well and good but we've been down this road before: developers toil on great 'jam' apps for hacker events, demo them with more showmanship than you'd expect, and get a big marketing boost to boot. But what does it amount to? Or as I put it in the video:

I've had a bit of a frustration with what I call 'SAP jam culture'. While SAP's done an awesome job with getting people exposed to their tools, we're reaching the point where it's like, 'How can we take these apps to market and change the lives of customers'?

How Keytree landed a post-Demo Jam customer

Keytree responded with some unexpected news. One of their prior Demo Jam winning apps, CEO Vision, landed a customer sale. Given that CEO Vision was an intentionally futuristic piece of HANA-meets-augmented reality, the Keytree team was not counting on a customer sale so soon after the Demo Jam win. So what happened? Doodson:

(We) showed one of our clients the videos. They were like, 'What could you do if you used our data, our assets'? It spiraled from there. We mentioned that we had won Demo Jam. It got traction. We sat around the table and said, 'This is what we could do.' Now we're building it.

Presenting to customers is an altogether different animal than presenting to a throng of party-minded developers. Developers might fall for cool tech and a keg of beer on stage, but the cold light of day in front of a customer is a whole 'nuther matter. Powell's take:

It's very different. The customers are, obviously, asking some very specific questions about what you're doing that maybe developers wouldn't. Developers are interested in different things, like you said. That's a completely different challenge, but it really helps develop the product to the next level because (customers are) going to come in with ideas specific to their business that you may not have already considered.

Following up on Demo Jam could be a win for customers

Doodson and Powell feel that more can be done to carry the good content from Demo Jam type events forward. Powell would like to see a follow-on structure that includes an SAP-organized presentation to customers. As he sees it, that's where enterprising developers and smaller shops could use a boost:

Everything you see on stage could be a product. The ideas are fantastic... SAP has such a vast reach and such a vast customer base  - surely there's some way of then saying, 'Why don't you take this and show it to (customers?)'

Powell believes that arming account executives with such apps could lead to inroads with customers that benefit all three parties (this combined go-to-market is something the SAP startup program has utilized in some cases).

For Doodson, the key is in post-Demo Jam follow up:

When you're looking for the developer stories, being able to say in 12 months' time, 'This is where they are now. This is what they've achieved. This is how they've worked with HANA, worked with us, worked with our clients, and brought something that's completely brand new to market.' That would be phenomenal, really.

Final thoughts

The SAP startup program provides a model for building out industry-savvy 'next generation' apps. But the 'how' of moving apps from 'jammy' events into the marketplace is not yet solved. Most Demo Jam participants I've spoken with would happily partner with SAP on turning these contest-built apps into products - even if some of those products were for community and not commercial purposes.

SAP is still sorting out the best mixture of selling next gen apps via traditional sales channels versus online marketplaces. To say that SAP has struggled to build appealing marketplaces in the past would be an understatement, but the new HANA beta marketplace is an indication of SAP's determination to get the marketplace right.

With the right go-to-market structure in place, the boundary between building apps for fun and building apps for customers will give way to something way more compelling. HANA opens up many such possibilities for industry cases that pull in real-world data.

I expect to see many more business focused demos in the future as developers realize that Demo Jam can be a high value way from them to show talent not only with code wizardry, but by re-imagining industries. Now that would be my definition of a 'beautiful' enterprise app.

Disclosure: SAP is a diginomica premier partner; SAP paid the bulk of my expenses to SAP TechEd Las Vegas. We produced this video at our own cost but could not have done so without the logistical support of the SAP blogger relations team.

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