DEMO 08 Opening Points to the Experience Economy

I open each DEMO conference with remarks that reflect the state of the industry. Here is the text of this morning’s opening. – chris

Good morning, and welcome to DEMO 2008.

These few opening minutes of the DEMO conference have come to provide a sort of “State of the Industry” update.

Over the last several months, we’ve talked to hundreds of companies and identified the 77 launching products here this week as the very best of the lot, no doubt. They are also representative of direction and change in the technology markets.

You see, all of those meetings to screen and select products for DEMO are data points about the industry, and so, like runes, we toss them across the table, ask questions, and try to get a read on the present and the future.

So, what do these 77 companies – and the hundreds that didn’t make it – tell us?

Well, one question I’ve heard asked is: “Why 77”? There is a certain symmetry to it, you have to admit. And we did think “80 in 08” had a nice ring to it. But in the end, we aren’t driven by numbers or caps as much as we are by great products. And we wanted to present only the very best product and to represent a wide range of markets and ideas. If DEMO is to be a reflection of the entire technology industry, then it’s not enough to show just Web 2.0 products or just business software or just search algorithms or just consumer gadgets. We have to represent the broader market and industry.

And here’s why that matters: today every market segment whether its live video broadcast over IP – the technology from BitGravity that is streaming the DEMO 08 sessions across the Internet – or a hardware component, or a consumer Web site, or an enterprise application – everything is interrelated. And when you bring pieces of the larger industry together, sometimes magic happens. People see connections that aren’t obvious. Businesses find customers or partners they didn’t anticipate. Investors see new ideas where they’d not focused before.

So there are 77 companies here this week. Each of them deserving to be here for the innovation they add to the market place, and each of them a piece of a larger picture.

Piecing that picture together … that’s the most challenging job of the executive producer. What is the sum of these parts?

More than anything, the products you’ll meet this week write a chapter in a continuing story (and how’s that for changing up my metaphors).

Those of you who have been coming regularly to DEMO have heard me talk before about the influence of the individual on product concepts, development, and design.

Never is that more clear than among all of these 77 products. As individuals continue to pile on to the Internet, they – we — create new opportunity as a diverse and growing market. But we also place tougher demands on network infrastructure. We want more bandwidth, we want higher resolution, we want security and reliability. All that we want is an engineering challenge – and one that has been met here in an array of ways, from more reliable content delivery schemes to real-time application engines, to software and services that keep networks, computers, and devices running 24/7.

And our expectations have been reset in so many ways. We know, from using well-designed consumer applications and Web services that software really can be so much better than many of the business applications we struggle with at work. We spend our evenings watching YouTube videos, or engaged with Facebook, or cruising SecondLife. Then, we go into work and try to make sense of an ERP dashboard. We know software can be easier to use. We bank online, arrange travel, make stock trades, and share Google docs. We know that somewhere on that vast internet are the tools we need to get our work done, and we can get at those tools without a requisition or even IT approval for that matter.

And boy, are we talkers! We connect on social networks, we IM until our fingers are sore, we record video and voice and post it on the Web. Yes, we post. Millions and millions of posts. And we know that text and voice and video need to be a part of everything we do, integrated into every application, and a seamless capability of the hardware devices we use every day.

As individuals flex their power and influence, we challenge hardware and software developers to work harder to deliver power and ease of use. We drive the need for reliable, scalable technologies. We create new opportunities to disrupt the incumbents. We spark entrepreneurship and pull new ideas into market.

That is what these 77 companies are saying about the market today.

They also point toward the next chapter. Because, face it: we are in part defined – by ourselves and by others – by the technology we use. And all this power to drive markets means very little if we can’t drive our own experience. So where does this lead?

In the months and years ahead, the most important aspect of any technology product, of its design and its marketing, will be the experience. What does using a product, buying a brand, participating in a network, capturing and creating and consuming digital media . . . what do these things say about you? As product developers and marketers, what experience will you deliver to your customers? What will we value and how will companies and investors and consumers create value through experience?

These are big questions to consider, questions to think about during this conference, questions to answer . . . at a future DEMO.

For now, there are 77 companies very eager to show you the products they’ve created. So let’s do it!


1 Comment »

  1. […] tends to start from the bottom up rather than top down. As Chris mentioned in this morning’s opening remarks, users who’ve spent their evenings on Facebook, YouTube and Second Life are much less likely […]

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