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Experiencing DEMO Fall 2009 & Living To Tell About It.

by Ken Yeung on September 30, 2009

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DEMO Fall09 Conference - Opening ReceptionYet another technology conference took place along the West Coast. This time it was DEMO, a long-standing tradition in the industry where companies got the opportunity to compete for a $1 million prize. This year seemed to be a little bit more concerned with celebrating an individual as much as the winners. For the past 13 years, executive producer Chris Shipley has helped judge thousands of applicants and oversee the production of one of the most prestigious tech conferences known to help make or break products.

In full disclosure, I was invited to be a part of this DEMO experience as the official event photographer. Even so, here are a few thoughts on the conference:

DEMO Fall09 Conference - Day 1 Main StageExpect a different environment compared to other tech conferences. This isn’t a panel discussion. For the most part, this is focused on product launches and demonstrations. If you’re thinking that you’re going to be taught something new besides what companies are doing, you’re at the wrong event. Be prepared for a marathon of presentations that will go by in a flurry of six-minute intervals.

Don’t try and jot down a lot of notes during company pitches. There just isn’t enough time for you to remember everything about these companies. The good thing about DEMO is that each of the presenters makes it a point to tell the audience where they can find additional information and which booth they are located at in the nearby pavilion.

Don’t expect to see companies be all about social media. Contrary to the belief about technology conferences, not everything centers around social media. There were some companies that presented iPhone applications and even some that had hardware products that they were launching – one of which was awarded part of the $1 million prize from DEMO.

Do come into DEMO with an open mind – there may be some products that surprise you. The beauty of these conferences is that they segment the companies by industry. This lets you check out what other folks are doing in different industries with technology being the common linkage.

Do plan on bringing equipment to help with your technology needs. Unfortunately one of the things that I’ve encountered at DEMO was the diminished capacity of the Internet. Not only that, but there weren’t enough outlets in the back of the room for all the laptops.

DEMO Fall09 Conference - Day 1 - Jam SessionDEMO is a really good event to be at, but in the end I felt a bit “quarantined” simply because all the activity took place in the hotel. While that saves on transportation, after three days, you can get pretty claustrophobic or perhaps just sick of the food.

But let’s face facts…we’re not there to simply enjoy the nightlife. We’re there to check out the startups and new emerging products and DEMO definitely has some good value to those who attend the event. The grand scheme of things is the last day as judges awarded lifetime achievement awards to some great people, including the former president of Palm, the founder & Chairman of Salesforce.com, and many others.

DEMO Fall09 Conference - Day 2 - DEMOgod AwardsIn the end, the winners of the $1 million prize from DEMO were Emo Labs, who won DEMO’s consumer-facing award for their invisible speaker system and Liaise, who won the enterprise award for their service in analyzing the content in your inbox, figuring out the important items and then building out a to-do list for you to execute.

Overall, the DEMO conference is a great event to be at and it definitely showed that there is some pretty good innovations happening during a time of an economic downturn. Very promising applications and products that hopefully will succeed to be the next biggest thing since sliced bread.

Photos from the event, courtesy of DEMO conferences can be viewed by clicking here.

Photo credit: DEMO Conferences.
Taken by Kenneth Yeung.

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