what is wrong with SAP TechEd Demo Jam 2009?

Let me start off with a little made-up story :

Imagine for a moment you are a car mechanic. You know your stuff and so do your colleagues at the garage where you work. Said garage specializes in selling, repairing, checking and tuning cars manufactured by company XXL. All the staff at the garage love XXL cars and you all strive to pass that passion on to your customers.

Now XXL is very keen to keep all garage mechanics up to speed with their latest cars, products and developments. It therefore holds a big training session every year for them. Part of this training session is an open competition in which teams can show how far they can take XXL’s cars in terms of design, performance and appeal.

You and your colleagues really want to show what you’re made of and together you submit what you think is a great idea for the competition. However it doesn’t convince the preliminary jury and a few weeks after submission you’re being told that you have not been picked for the final at XXL’s next annual training session.

“Never mind.”, everyone at the garage says. Everyone suspects the other entries to be strong with brilliant ideas from other teams. After all, XXL products are great and spur the imagination! So why shouldn’t other teams come up with even better entries for the competition?

Shortly before the annual training session XXL announces the teams that have been picked for the competition final. It turns out that the majority of finalists actually consist of XXL staff !

You and your colleagues are a little disgruntled about this as XXL staff has not only much better access to original XXL spare parts, but can also speak exclusively to XXL’s engineers and therefore can quickly tap into a resource pool that is at the core of each of XXL’s products! Completely unmatched to what you and your colleagues have at your disposal.

Packed Demo Jam crowd at SAP TechEd 07 Las Vegas

Packed Demo Jam crowd at SAP TechEd '07 Las Vegas

In case you’ve seen the line-up of the next SAP TechEd 2009 Demo Jam competition the above may sound familiar to you. In Phoenix this year, SAP’s Demo Jam hosts 4 out of 7 entries from SAP themselves !

Furthermore your trained eye might also have observed that another Demo Jam entry is from Sybase, presenting an entry called “Mobilizing SAP CRM and Workflow on iPhone”, which sounds very much like what said company advertises under the name “iAnywhere”. Whilst this surely is a great product: sales pitches are not allowed during Demo Jam and therefore this is an obvious violation against Demo Jam rules.

Hang on! Now, isn’t Demo Jam not just a little bit of beer-inspired Tuesday night clapping fun? Does this all REALLY matter? Am I blowing this out of proportion? Unfortunately not! Demo Jam can mean big business to some. A past winner even mentioned a pickup in business of 500% after Demo Jam victory.

There have always been home-grown SAP contributions to Demo Jam in the past, but this year’s SAP landslide is a bit much. There should be no deterrent for SAP’s own staff to take center stage, but 4 out of 7 entries appears too much to me.

Doesn’t Demo Jam not just become yet another “pat on the shoulder” exercise if there’s more or less only SAP or partners presenting their own products? And above this, wouldn’t it be much cooler for SAP to see how their customers and partners want to take the products further or use them?

Maybe the latter would even reveal where SAP’s products should really go.

22 thoughts on “what is wrong with SAP TechEd Demo Jam 2009?

  1. Mrinal Wadhwa

    October 3, 2009 at 9:00pm


    You do have a point there, Demo Jam should be about providing people in the ecosystem an opportunity to present cool stuff that they are working on ….. as for, showcasing the cool and exciting things people inside SAP are working on .. well that’s what the rest of the conference is about .. isn’t it?

  2. Anne K Petterøe

    October 3, 2009 at 9:24pm

    I agree with you both, you definitely have a point here Michael.
    What I am asking myself is if there should be more emphasis on whether or not the entry is from a partner/customer than what is being demoed? Is there a fair way to prevent this from happening again?

    I also wonder how close to iAnywhere the DemoJam contribution from Sybase will be.


  3. Mrinal Wadhwa

    October 3, 2009 at 9:42pm

    thinking more about my comment above … I think maybe I’m discounting the fact that SAP is a big organization with thousands of employes and DemoJam maybe a great opportunity even for people inside SAP to get their ideas/side projects noticed … but still something about majority of demos being from SAP doesn’t feel right.

  4. Matt Harding

    October 3, 2009 at 11:09pm

    Great point. Another point I would make is looking at the expert lounge for the SAP DJs, they all include business objects it looks like. I thought we got over the business objects marketing last tech Ed. For me, teched is about keeping it real and is not so much a marketing campaign.

    Note – I’m slightly biased about this because I was exposed (observer only) to a DJ idea that Aus Post put forward which was both innovative and technically elegant but rejected.

    See you in Phoenix,

  5. Phil Gleadhill

    October 3, 2009 at 11:12pm

    You have hit the mark. Demo Jam has become simply another SAP and Partner Sales Channel, disguised as something else.
    This is a large, enterprise Commercial Software house. Its all about Sales $$$$’s, not about “Community”.

  6. Jon Reed

    October 3, 2009 at 11:22pm

    It is hard to get excited about a supposed community event when it becomes so slanted in this manner. Sometimes people think that you always have to be about community and can’t do an old fashioned sales or marketing pitch. I don’t think that’s true, but I do think you have to choose, and then be upfront about which you are doing. The problem I see here is if you present DemoJam as a community event and get key community members excited about participating, then SAP cannot dominate the final selections. It would almost be better if SAP wasn’t allowed to participate in the contest itself, but could share a couple of its own innovations before or afterward. I don’t think anyone would have any problem with that whatsoever and SAP would still get exposure plus all the goodwill from a model community event, and all the good blogging that comes out of that.

  7. Thorsten Franz

    October 3, 2009 at 11:34pm

    It’s important to keep things fair and equal for the participants, even if that means that the bar is set higher for SAP entrants to the competition. (I wouldn’t lock them out or make them non-competitive but set the originality and quality bar higher if SAP employees have used corporate resources not available to non-SAP competitors such as direct access to developers and experts of new tools.)
    As far as SAP entries are concerned, I really don’t want to see regular projects that are in the product roadmap and get pushed into the contest by product management, but I want to see underdog pirate projects that only make it into the roadmap because the DemoJam crowd cheers for them. That’s the spirit and I hope SAP is going to keep it.

  8. Graham Robbo

    October 4, 2009 at 4:52am

    I can’t help but agree with all these comments. Even if the motives of the DJ selection committee are pure it is hard to understand how they couldn’t foresee this adverse response and mitigate against it.
    Graham Robbo

  9. Jon Reed

    October 4, 2009 at 5:43am

    Agreed Graham. I’ve been on judging panels before and it’s never easy to make those calls. It’s important to realize, as you said, that the intentions may be good on all sides, but the result is something you have to anticipate and think about, and knowing all the buzz around submittals this year, you can see the issue coming. I like what Thorsten said too about the “spirit of the underdog” being so important to a competition like this, so you want to make sure that this vibe is protected. Well, hopefully positive things will come out of this.

  10. Amit Bendov

    October 4, 2009 at 7:04am

    I agree with you Michael. I’d also add to some 20% of TechEd attendees are SAP employees, by far more Clapometer Decibel potential than any other contestants. For disclosure, my team came in 2nd last year in Vegas DJ, so nothing to complain about personally, but I agree with you that this isn’t the best policy to cultivate community innovation.


  11. InTheKnow

    October 4, 2009 at 11:55am

    Such is life in the post-Shai era. The more appropriate vehicle for SAP internal innovations is an “innovation station” at TechEd, which could show off the work of SAP Research, SAP Imagineering, SAP Inspire, SAP Global Business Incubator, and other work throughout the company. Or even better, include some of the most cool SAP demos (but they need to be off-the-charts cool) as part of Demo Jam, but not as part of the competition – just as “teasers” to get the crowd excited.

    TechEd Demo Jam should focus on external innovations from partners and customers!

  12. ewH

    October 4, 2009 at 1:34pm

    I have known some of the individuals from past SAP demo jam entries. These demos are from individuals or small teams coming up with cool innovations on their own and not part of a company sponsored roadmap product.

    As I understand it, the selection committee did not have access to the names or companies of the entrants. I don’t believe this to be part of any hype machine or underhanded way of slipping in a sales pitch; it’s about seeing the best demos and cool innovations up on stage, regardless of the company.


  13. Yariv Zur

    October 4, 2009 at 1:43pm

    Disclosure – SAP Employee. And as usual – my opinions reflect my own, and not SAP’s.
    That being said – I have seen several demo jam submissions made by SAP employees. All of them have been done as ‘spare time’ projects and not part of your standard portfolio process. These are usually individuals with innovation burning inside and not your global marketing machine leveraging another channel. At least that’s my personal experience.

  14. Thomas Jung

    October 4, 2009 at 1:47pm

    I’m a little torn on the subject of SAP demos in Demo Jam. Full discloser: I work for SAP and have presented in Demo Jam myself as an SAP employee. I think that demos from SAP that have been innovations done by small groups under the radar can be a good thing. These can be projects that would have gone unnoticed otherwise. I think about the ABAP Editor demo jam winner from a few years ago. The crowd reaction really helped to show that there was tremendous support of additional investment in the ABAP environment. Would we have a very active ABAP in Eclipse project today if it weren’t for this original demo jam winner? I don’t know. Keep in mind that this project also started very much in the spirit of Demo Jam – people working in their personal time on a project they cared deeply about. They just happened to be SAP employees.

    On the other hand, I would hate to see Demo Jam become just another outlet for the marketing opportunities – SAP, Partner or Customer. That will surely lead to the death of Demo Jam. Lets face it, people are tired by that time of the day. Most attendees have been exposed to about 10,000 PowerPoint slides by that point of the conference. They choose to stick around the convention center rather than getting a good meal or resting because they want to see something special – something they won’t see anywhere else during TechEd.

  15. Gregor Wolf

    October 4, 2009 at 4:21pm

    Hope that ewH is right and the DJ selection committee made it’s decision only by seeing the Demo’s. I was selected for DemoJam in Vienna this year with my “Web Application Testing with Selenium for ABAP” Demo (http://tinyurl.com/seleniumABAP). Unfortunately the List of the Demo Jam Competitors in Vienna isn’t yet online: http://www.sapteched.com/emea/activities/demojam.htm I can say from a invitation mail that I got that there will be at least 3 external companies competing in the Demo Jam Vienna.
    Let the crowd decide.
    Best regards

  16. Michael Koch

    October 4, 2009 at 6:41pm

    Hi Thomas,

    Thanks for sharing your views with us.

    I’ve only just spotted your comment in the spam checker. Not to take personally 🙂

    As I’ve tried to point out in several comments now: I don’t think there’s a problem with SAP employees taking part, but not 4 out of 7 and not without keeping in mind that SAP employees have a tremendous advantage when building their entries over SAP-Outsiders. You have access to the actual developers of the very products you’re trying to built on top of! The latter shouldn’t be underestimated. You mentioned the ABAP editor winner from a few years ago: would an outsider team have been able to create this in the same time without potential SAP internal input?

    I’ve been to training courses in Walldorf many times and have experienced first hand how closely knit internal teams at SAP sometimes can be. There is nothing wrong with this, but when you’re competing against externals then it does create an unfair contest in my book.


  17. Owen

    October 4, 2009 at 6:44pm

    My concerns are more about companies like Sybase or SAP using demo jam to demo products…we will have to wait until the session but if as happened at demo jam last year “products” are being shown…I will not be clapping.

    So perhaps we need to put a lid/hold on our comments until we see the entries…hopefully it will be the best demo jam ever, as I know the CE Ninjas entry was very good, so my expectations are high.

    I do hope that demo jam does remain a community thing…if it goes the other way I am sure the community is strong enough to create an alternative outlet for our creative juice….Perhaps this is the way with community success…once the mainstream see it as a success, it takes over and the community fringe moves on.

    I am sure it will all make sense after a couple a beers in Pheonix or Vienna 🙂

  18. Jon Reed

    October 5, 2009 at 12:50am

    This was a good discussion and I’m glad Thomas and Ed chimed in also to help provide a fuller view. My hope is is as Owen said – if the finalists are truly spectacular that will change the vibe on this. This may also be a situation that is more of an anomaly (as far as so many SAP related entries making the finals) than a problem that needs to be addressed over time. However, if there is a collective sense after this years DJams that this is a problem, it might be interesting to try a three phase selection process, something like: SAP narrows the original entries to 20, then the SAP community votes online to narrow the entries to the seven finalists for each show, or something like that. Could be a neat way of involving the community. Of course, I am not privy to some of the intricacies of how all this works so maybe that idea isn’t viable. At any rate I’m looking forward to DemoJam and hoping that we see some inspired “under the radar” upstart innovations.

  19. Nigel James

    October 5, 2009 at 8:20am

    Just as the disguntled XXL customers and fanboys can go and work with HOOPLA products or boycott the show we can respond in two ways.
    1. Not attend if you really think it is just another sales pitch. (bit OTT and think of the beer you miss out on)
    2. Not clap. If the presentation is just a sales pitch in diguse then zip your lip and dont give the applause-o-meter any fuel.

    The other side of the coin is that if this is the best that is on offer then it seems like SAP has filled up slots because there have been no better solutions on offer?

    Maybe those who missed out need to start up a DJ Fringe show.

    Just my £0.02


  20. Twan van den Broek

    October 5, 2009 at 7:44pm

    Interesting discussion you have over here!

    Last year two of my colleagues ended up as second after SAP in Vienna. Of course they were already proud to participate on stage in the Demo Jam. But when they were backstage talking to the winners and understood that they were already busy with the idea for 1,5 year, they felt a little disappointed. How can we compete with them as we have to realize our idea during evening hours?
    Let me be clear: I really admired what I saw from last years winners, it was a great tool. Like with the new ABAP editor a few years ago – development tools will get a huge hand from the (development) crowd.

    Let’s just hope that the selection committee is working conform a proper and fair mechanism. Anyway I am looking forward to this great evening event. And I agree with Michael, when one of the entries is a sort of commercial entry – I will be disappointed. I hope we can see the entry of CompriseIT somewhere online.


  21. Michael Koch

    October 5, 2009 at 8:00pm

    Hi Twan,

    Thanks for your comment and giving us a yet a different perspective.

    1.5 years… quite some time went into it then! But to me it doesn’t matter whether they did it in their own time or not. The important thing is the signal that 4 SAP entries out of 7 send out when you declare TechEd as a community event.

    On a brighter note, our submitted video of the Composite Apps so far can be viewed here:


  22. John Appleby

    October 11, 2009 at 2:01am


    As a presenter in Vienna working for a SAP Services Partner, I’m really interested to discuss. I’ve had long conversations with Craig about how we tread the line between a commercial organization which is in the business of doing business, and the long unpaid hours I have personally spent of my spare time putting together a submission.

    We are going to try our hardest to put together a demo which is fun, cool and pulls lots of aspects of both SAP and non-SAP technology together in innovative ways. We want to blow your mind and get the audience thinking about the art of the possible.

    If in the process of this people see us as fun, cool and thought leaders in the SAP space then there is no harm done, but that’s not been the starting point.

    @Thomas – looking forward to RIA HN, hope you have something to blow our minds like last year!

    @Nigel – I’m counting on your clap then mate! Will be good to see you.



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