Saturday, November 26, 2005

anatomy of a truck event 3: on with the show!

the next step was deciding upon the final list of technologies we wanted to focus on for our event. now...some of this was decided with certain invitees in mind, so this wasn't a wholly clean break from the previous step of making the list.

in the end, i decided on the following 5 microsoft technologies:
  • small business server
  • tabletpc
  • crm 3.0
  • windows vista beta
  • smartphone running windows mobile
once those were nailed down, i had to determine which ones were available on the truck, and which weren't.

all the microsoft software available on the truck...which is a pretty long list, actually...are simply the virtual pc images and setups that are in the technical demonstration toolkit. this makes it very easy for anyone to prep for the truck setups well ahead of time.

however, if you want to show something that is not available on the truck, or you want to use your own custom setup of something that is on the truck...vpc or otherwise...you will not be able to use the truck's hardware for that. you must load it on your own hardware, then bring said hardware aboard and hook up to the truck's impressive a/v switching system.

in our case, 3 out of our 5 topics required our own hardware.

it just so happens
our firm had bought a phalanx of gorgeous new hp/compaq laptops...the gargantuan nx9600s that you can see at the extreme left and to the immediate right of the plasma display in the picture above...which meant we had extra hardware available for this event, thanks to a bit of judicious planning when it came to purchasing.

with all that new hardware, the preps were not so bad...

crm 3.0
since i had attended the crm readiness tour, i had a copy of the dvd with the vpc environment that was slated to appear in the tdt, but hadn't yet. the muscle-bound nx9600 ran the vpc...which is actually very very solid...just fine. unfortunately, the demo script for the vpc image is horribly horribly broken. with a little bit of time, i found ways to work through those issues and successfully use the vpc image to demo crm 3.0...which was a very good thing.

far and away...our hottest leads were generated using the crm 3.0 demo. everybody wanted to see it, and even folks that we didn't think would be interested in crm, were salivating at the sight of it.

windows vista beta
the new laptops loaded the vista beta beautifully. all the hardware on the nx9600 was fully supported, except for just a few devices. one of the unsupported devices was the sound hardware, which would have been nice to have...but not necessary.

we had one laptop with vista fully loaded, and another available to show the first part of one of the biggest changes in vista...which is the uber-streamlined, turbocharged installation wizard. we had several it folks coming from different clients...but...except for a few notable exceptions...no one gave a second glance at vista.

in fact, one time when i thought someone was showing some interest in vista...the person actually just wanted a better look at the nx9600. now that i think about it, that person asked me the next day for the specs so he could order one!

windows mobile smartphone
i had signed us up for the mobile reseller program, and as part of that program, was able to get a demo unit for a 60 tryout. i chose an audiovox smt5600 to demo, and timed the trial to coincide with our planned event.

after using the connectcomputer wizard to make one of our new laptops a client of our demonstration sbs server, i installed a trial of office small business management edition. once i verified that outlook would connect successfully, i installed activesync 4.1 to connect the audiovox. after that, i was able to configure the phone to sync wirelessly to the demo sbs box.

if yours truly hadn't entered one piece of information incorrectly, configuring the wireless phone sync would have taken less than 10 minutes to complete.

the smartphone was a humongous hit with attendees. i had the opportunity to chat with a lot of folks who currently use blackberry or other devices, and was able to outline the differences in costs, features, infrastructure needs, etc. in ways that many of them hadn't been aware.

i was also upfront about the strengths of a smartphone versus a pocketpc phone edition, depending on how someone uses mobile e-mail.

still...any comparison with or sell against blackberry continues to ring a bit hollow.

without mobile 5.0 and the messaging and security feature pack in hand...blackberry with bes in a corporate environment still smokes windows mobile, and for one simple reason...

the extra costs associated with standing up bes are insignificant compared to the damage a company could suffer from just one lost or stolen mobile device to which they couldn't send a remote kill command.

and that's the reality.

tabletpc
we simply figured to use the one on the truck as is. and which we would have...had any of our attendees shown even a smidgen of interest in the tabletpc architecture.
actually, i was the only one who wanted to look at it, since i had a tabletpc on backorder...thankfully. after spending all of two minutes with the t4200c, i immediately cancelled my tabletpc order, and switched my request to an nx9600.

so what if i'll be walking around hunched over like quasimodo after a month of toting around an nx9600 boat anchor? at least it won't feel like a piece of tinfoil that i can wad up and toss into the garbage.

small business server
the stock tdt vpc image for sbs was perfect for our needs, primarily since it showed some more advanced sharepoint customization.

no doubt about it...sharepoint sells sbs.

this was definitely our second-hottest demo of the day, right behind crm 3.0.

really tho...no matter what you show, the main thing to remember is...

make sure you know it...at least enough to show it well.

nothing against the microsoft technical specialist, but it's much better if you show something, rather than the specialist.

your attendees will naturally want to look to you anyway...so don't sacrifice that opportunity to make a connection with them.

and if you don't know something well enough to show it...then find something else to show instead...or just cut it altogether.

again...quality over quantity.

focus on making the connection with customers and prospects.

the rest will take care of itself...almost.


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