Demos in the Wild

(Ref Id: 1435505778)

Wife: "Bill, not everybody thinks like you..."

Bill: "You're right, and that's why the world is screwed up the way that it is!"


On my desk in a nice small box big enough to fit a largish pack of playing cards is a brand new Raspberry Pi 2. Now, tech journals and some smart people 'in the know' on these things say that the price point (~$35.00 U.S.) doesn't make sense for the memory size or somesuch. There was supposed to be a competitor with better features for the same or lower price. Big deal, I said, because the number of books and other resources online for the Raspberry Pi engulfs that competitor so until I get a handle on this thing I'll stick with the Pi.

Why Bother

I had envisioned buying a unit like this to strap to the back of a large-screen television or monitor to demonstrate to folks at various petrochemical companies that the 'dashboard system' they had been looking for could be built for less than $300.00 U.S. That's mostly the cost for the monitor, a few bucks for the small onboard computer, and a few dollars for the software per unit. It would fetch information from the LIMS that shopfloor people claimed to need to have 'at a glance.'

Sometimes in this business you need to have demonstration tools 'ready to go' at a moment's notice. You'll find yourself at an impromptu meeting with the business, the laboratory, and relevant IT people and out will come a flurry of problems. In petrochem, this is just how they brainstorm. You'll say, 'Oh that...that can be solved this way...' Invariably at least one pivotal decision maker retorts, 'I will believe THAT when I see it!' Countless innovations in that industry were and will probably be the result of meetings of this sort. If you can back up your claim with some convincing proof you are virtually guaranteed a sale, so it makes sense to have lots of demo stuff handy and a sympathetic ear to go with it.

Demo Mileage

There are probably at least 100 other uses for the Pi, the least of which has to do with my original intent. With a half-decent Internet connection you can pull up some virtually installed version of almost any software you have to demonstrate client/server applications in a meeting room, but setting up devices for a proof-of-concept can be a huge pain. Lugging computers is just no fun. Something small enough to fit in your hand where you can swap out the entire OS by simply pushing in a different SD card? Now that's magic.

Wrap Up

The snippet of conversation at the top of this post came from some reality television show -- a discussion between a man and his wife where the husband felt that the entire world would be better off seeing things his way. Well, thankfully, there is quite a bit of diversity when it comes to thinking. The demo is an excellent tool for helping others to see things your way. Having the right tools to demonstrate functionality (it helps if you can find your demos quickly) before a prospect loses interest is the key.

You've probably heard of the 'elevator speech.' With attention spans shrinking in the information age we may have just entered the time of the 'elevator demo.' Ask yourself this question -- can you set up and demonstrate something in under three minutes? If not, you risk losing interest.

Sometimes DIY isn't about creating a new company or shaking up the entire world. Sometimes you just want to prove to people at your company that something is indeed do-able at reasonable cost. Now, if they go out and decide to hire a company to build this tool or elect to purchase it you have your demonstration to establish a baseline for cost and functionality. Do that often enough and you'll notice your overall costs going down because your organization is full of 'educated consumers.'

Go Back

Citation: Demos in the Wild. (2015). Retrieved Sat Jul 31 14:11:45 2021, from;iid=readMore;go=1435505778