Demoing past the language barrier

I had a great week at NetApp Insight with two of my colleagues this week.  We had many, many conversations with interested customers and partners, and spent hours each day telling our story and explaining how Infinio is unique.

Many customers were interested to see a demo – what does it look like to manage the product on a daily basis?  what kind of information about performance can I get from the screens?  I like to demo (partially because our UI is so good – we’ve discussed signage that says “our UI is our booth babe”).

But there is a risk with demoing – once I get into the demo, my ability to have someone’s undivided attention wanes.  People are mesmerized by the screen and often only half-listen to what I am saying.  It’s good because I can understand what their questions are and what they’d like to see, but it becomes a shift in the conversation to a shared screen rather than a shared conversation.

The exception to this is the international community.  There were many people at this show from Asia – China and Korea to be specific – as well as South America.  While their English was far better than my ability to speak any foreign language, it was often not good enough to understand what “distributed deduplicated global content-based server-side cache.”

In these cases, the demo was crucial to selling our value.  Without language and conversation to carry me, the product did a good job of showing what it did.  While it didn’t explain the underlying technologies or the technical differentiation, demoing to an audience who doesn’t speak fluent English gives us a common experience.  It helps fill in some of the words that might not be on the tip of their tongues.  Often I got a lot of questions during the demo once there was something to point at or ask about.  Demoing shows what the solution is – what space it is in, generally what kind of benefits it provides.

It was a great reminder of how universal technology can be – not just a screen, but things like charts and graphs and data visualizations – and how they transcend basic spoken language.

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