Inside DEMOfall 08

Not in my whole journalistic career have I seen PR people as aggressive as the ones here at DEMOfall 08.

It's quite jarring and must be a startup thing. Many of the conference participants launched products and/or companies at the conference, which concludes today in San Diego.

I had walked about 2 feet into the vendor pavilion before a young woman approached, put her hand on my shoulder and said, "Hello, Joe. What do you cover for eWEEK?"

WTH? Did she have laser surgery to create eagle eyes? Because she had to read my name tag from about 20 feet away before approaching me. As soon as she completed the demonstration, a PR person from another company grabbed me for yet another presentation.

Surprisingly, or perhaps not, many of the most aggressive PR people worked for companies presenting during DEMOfall's afternoon session. I don't mean to be critical, by the way. Their determination was commendable, and I respect the effort. Besides, I refuse to use the F word to describe PR professionals, as I know many other journalists do.

DEMO Does the Enterprise

The afternoon presentations were products for businesses.
Quantivo has technology that, if it works as promised, is the Holy Grail for business intelligence. Near as I can tell, Quantivo is able to process unstructured data and gain meaningful analysis from it. I got a much better demo at the Quantivo booth than was given onstage.

The company claims to be able take data from pretty much any source, analyze it and derive trends. Quantivo executives understand that most enterprises won't just chuck BI solutions for which they invested millions of dollars; the service is designed to complement installed solutions. During the demo presentation, I was told how the software/service can detect trends that are unintuitive, such as that people buying diapers also buy beer.

There are many shortcomings to the traditional, structured database approach. Example: A business doesn't know what question to ask to get the answer about a business trend. If the business knew the answer it could ask the question.

Microsoft is hot-and-heavily into BI solutions, but the company is constrained by structured data. Microsoft managers don't like to talk about this limitation, as I've learned from interviews trying to get them to discuss structured versus unstructured data analysis. I heard this afternoon at the Quantivo booth that three different people from Microsoft stopped by asking about partnering.


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