Book Excerpt: ‘Can the AS/400 Survive IBM?’
October 4, 2004 Brian Kelly
Editor’s Note: Brian Kelly, a well-known speaker and consultant in the OS/400 market, launched a book in May called Can the AS/400 Survive IBM?, which pulls no punches about the history of the OS/400 platform and the things that Kelly feels IBM needs to do to rejuvenate the platform. A message is only as useful as the breadth of its audience, and Kelly has given this newsletter permission to excerpt one of the chapters of the book to stir up the debate over what IBM should do. Here is “Chapter 32, Suggestions for Improvement” from Can the AS/400 Survive IBM?
At this point in the book, it is no secret that IBM’s biggest AS/400 problem is that it fails to market the machine. The company has restructured its business as a services and software supplier, and that is at the heart of its problem. Hardware, including the AS/400 does not count for much anymore. Some of us think that a little care and feeding and marketing could have and could still help that. If you take a trip to IBM’s main Web site, www.ibm.com, it is difficult to find anything about its hardware products, but there sure is a lot about solutions. Though solutions may include hardware, the primary ingredients are software and tailoring services.
“Solutions” is a euphemism for the things that IBM thinks customers buy when they are shopping for a computer system. IBM thinks it sells solutions in today’s world. As strange as it may be, the IBM Company does not sell application solutions software. It is purposely not in that marketplace. It is not in that business. So, why would solutions be important?
IBM sells hardware, middleware, and services. The company has a dotted line relationship to its independent Business Partners and it depends on their good will as to whether IBM hardware is included in their partners’ software solution.
IBM would like to think that its Business Partners propose its products and only its products; however, this is not the case. I have been in a number of sales situations where these “loyal;” AS/400 solutions providers will gladly switch to a Unix or Windows solution if the customer balks at the price of an AS/400. They say “it is the same software, why not run it on the least expensive machine.” The moral is that just like the Computerland stores of yesteryear, IBM’s Business Partners are not in business for IBM’s benefit; they do not sell just IBM; and they are quite independent.
IBM loves to sell all kinds of services, as you would see from a trip to its Web site. Since most of IBM’s business is services and software, the company has apparently decided that hardware is now in the drag-along category. Years ago, IBM would sell hardware as a solution. Software products and services were the drag-along business. Now it is completely the opposite.
Though IBM still makes about $30 billion in hardware, until this year, the number has been dropping. Right now, its $30 billion hardware business is still integral to the company’s success. But, in the long term, as services and software revenues climb, hardware will have less and less of an impact. The hardware business has become less important to IBM and the company simply has not been successful in maintaining its hardware revenue or market share. In many ways the reason for its decreased sales is because hardware is just not an area in which the new IBM pays attention.
In late 2003, IBM announced that its software division would focus its solutions on vertical marketplaces as opposed to selling software to whomever will buy it. Since the vertical strategy is already employed in Rochester, this is not expected to affect the AS/400. However, I think that it will. When a lumber company comes to IBM for its one stop shopping, IBM’s Software Division will direct them to a software package for the industry as well as try to ensure that some of what is on the IBM software truck is sold. Since the AS/400 software truck is not as full as the other trucks, and since its most important AS/400 middleware comes with the machine, human nature says that if the software division has a prospect, it is going to sell what it’s got on its truck. Since they get less compensation for an AS/400 sale, the AS/400 will not be sold. Case closed. Therefore, you can bet none of these companies who contact the software division will ever hear about the AS/400–other than perhaps an acknowledgment that it is more expensive than Unix and Windows.
The Grim Reaper
They say that in life you reap what you sew. Unless IBM re-acknowledges that it is in the hardware businesses before it fritters its server business away, just as it did the PC business, the AS/400 and its hardware sisters and stepmother will be gone before the company knows it. When that happens, the discussion about how to save the AS/400 will be moot.
Though some may argue with me about it, the best thing that can happen to the IBM AS/400 is for Microsoft to buy the whole business from IBM or for IBM to donate OS/400 to the Open Source Foundation. There would be no question that Bill Gates would highlight the product if it were his and he’d win the small and large server business by killing both Unix and the mainframe. Eventually, he’d put a GUI on the AS/400 and would drive the box with Windows-like icons. In addition to making AS/400 customers happy this would make Microsoft happy also. Microsoft’s internal IT staff would not have to be embarrassed anymore about running (or having run) the business on the AS/400 platform. Besides peace internally, Bill Gates would finally have a highly scalable and reliable platform upon which to run Windows. Intel need not apply. Don’t rule it out!
A donation to the open source community would help IBM in a number of ways. AS/400 customers would get off IBM’s back because the software would be open and free. IBM would not have to bear the cost of maintaining OS/400. The Open Source OS/400 may be tweaked to run on many different hardware platforms, including all of IBM’s servers.
Short of action from Microsoft, or the donation route, if IBM chooses to save its AS/400 product line, this chapter has a number of suggestions. It starts with the top nine things the company can do and then generally discusses the problems that some of the nine solutions would address. The suggestion list continues in Chapter 34, with another set of suggestions for how to attract new blood to the AS/400 and how to get them prepared for training. If IBM is ready to sell, sell, sell, there is no doubt that the AS/400 can be saved.
To the IBM Vault?
What can IBM do to prevent the AS/400 from finding its way into the IBM vault. Vestiges from IBM’s glorious and ignominious past are displayed in the vault. For example, you’ll find the Series/1, the 305 RAMAC, the DataMaster, the 8100, the 1620, the DisplayWriter, and the Ford Edsel? Ford has its Edsel there because it did not have a vault and Disney would not take it.
Unlike the Disney vault, the IBM vault has an entrance but no exit. Products that go to the vault don’t ever get taken out for a new look – even after the kids that worked with them have grown up. The list of suggestions to IBM then is intended to help keep the AS/400 from getting tossed into the vault along with the dead products of yesteryear.
In one form or another I would suppose that others have given these recommendations to IBM over the last ten years, but perhaps not all together as the list below and the education list in Chapter 34. When I read this list I say to myself, “of course, that will save the AS/400…yes, that’s a good one, etc.” But I am powerless and you are powerless other than to suggest. Suggestions or no suggestions, in the end it is IBM who must decide to what level its AS/400 has a role in its company. Based on the IBM view, the AS/400 may hit the vault or not.
AS/400 Partial Improvement List
1. Tell the world about AS/400 reliability and dependability. Since most AS/400 users believe that the most important part of an AS/400 is its reliability and dependability, IBM should tell somebody about it. Marketing is not about best kept secrets.
2. Tell the world about the marvels of AS/400 integration. Since IBM thinks that the most important part of the AS/400 is its integration characteristics (as in iSeries), again, tell somebody about it, and begin to integrate the many standalone products, such as WebSphere to keep the “i” in iSeries from meaning “disintegrated.”
3. Position the AS/400 as a new account business computer. Since no business expands without some new accounts, and new accounts don’t come calling by themselves, again, IBM should tell somebody that they want new accounts and that they can sustain new accounts. A new accounts S.W.A.T. team would help in this regard.
4. Create a new baby sized AS/400 server / personal machine. Since the PowerPC chip line is so dominant in non-PC circles (almost all chips in game toys are IBM’s), the company should use this chip to create an AS/400 style machine to sell to new accounts. There is really no reason to import OS/400 to the Intel platform if this is done.
Again, if IBM were to build it, the company would have to tell somebody about its new affordable AS/400 server and development machine. The machine should be sold as an integrated, affordable package at about $2,000.00 or less.
5. Give AS/400s away to students and to colleges. IBM should have a lottery once a week, on a different campus every week, in which they give away one or two small AS/400s to a college student and the host college. To qualify for the lottery, a student might be asked to bid a dollar and all the dollars would go to the institution or to Student Government.
If IBM were to create this inexpensive AS/400 I would recommend giving at least one to every college and community college as a good will gesture during its kickoff period. Of course, the company would also be compelled to tell the colleges why the AS/400 should have value to them. To do this, again, IBM would have to let somebody know about the system, as in all other scenarios. Additionally, the company would have to let the general public know that these little AS/400 boxes are coming to a college close to home so the public has the opportunity to learn about the alive and well AS/400.
6. Add a standard GUI to the AS/400 operating system box (MAC OS). Since the AS/400 looks just like the tired old legacy system that Microsoft and the trade press have it painted to be, IBM should buy the Mac GUI from Apple and adapt it as the GUI for the AS/400. The MAC and the AS/400 both use PowerPC processor technology. Academia would automatically like the AS/400 since they love the Mac. By the way, the Mac and the Apple PowerBook use the same family of chips as the AS/400. Again, IBM would have to tell somebody about this.
An alternative would be to rebuild the OS/400 front end to use an HTML or better yet, an XML driven GUI. The AS/400 command structure could also be rescued to participate in the resolution of the commands.
7. Create a hybrid futuristic Mac/AS/400 PC. Along with Apple, IBM should build a PC that has the outward look and feel of a Mac and the inner elegance and full application facilities of an AS/400. If IBM were to perform this magic, it would create another PC revolution. To ensure success, Apple would have to market the device.
8. Take advice from Mark Twain and announce that the AS/400 is not dead and that it is not even tired. Since no business wants to install a server or even upgrade one that is dead, and the trade press has declared that the AS/400 and green screens are dead, and IBM behaves as if the AS/400 actually is dead, the company, like Mark Twain should announce that the AS/400 is not dead and that the reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated. Again, IBM must tell someone about this.
9. Add generic aliases to the IBM server line, making the AS/400 the “IBM Business System.” Rather than have IBM embarrass itself by discarding the eServer umbrella, add a generic primary differentiator name to the eServer brand so that the system can be known by a generic alias. Generic aliases for the other systems are already unofficially in place–IBM Mainframe Server; IBM Unix Server; IBM PC (x86) Server. The IBM Business System or even the IBM Business Server moniker would properly position the AS/400 and clear up its primary purpose.
10. etc. The list continues.
The Absence of AS/400 Awareness
In order to offer suggestions for improvement, you must examine the problems that the AS/400 platform is currently experiencing that makes it an at-risk-system in the 21st century. Most of my peers with whom I communicate share the thought that IBM’s biggest problem with its AS/400 line of computers, besides IBM per se, is buyer awareness. Other than the AS/400 professionals, the IT folks who manage, develop, implement, and operate AS/400 systems on a regular basis, there is almost no awareness of the product. There is even less awareness of its new pseudonym, iSeries.
Interestingly, this is not much different than the early days of computing when only the insiders knew what an IBM 1130, a System/3, or a System/38 might be like. In the early days, very few people knew anything about any computer, other than those people working directly with computers in their businesses. That is not the case today. More people know about computers today than those who do not know about them. More importantly, ordinary people know computers today from things they do and see outside of their workplace. Just like the days gone by, not many people, other than those directly involved, know anything about the big back room computers that do the companies work every day.
Who are the people then who know little about their computer at work but are very aware of computers in the rest of their lives? You already know who they are. They are my neighbors and they are your neighbors. Four out of five of them are likely to have at least one computer at home and nineteen out of twenty are likely to have a close relative with one. This same percentage of people is on the Internet every day or so, looking for an email from a son or daughter or parent or other loved one, or perhaps an acknowledgment that their last big purchase, such as a digital camera, CD, or cell phone has been shipped.
These people are Firemen, Accountants, Nurses, Police, Food Service Workers, Maintenance Personnel, Doctors, Plumbers, CEOs, Store Owners, Sales People, Secretaries, Street Cleaners, Teachers, Linemen, Clergy, Cable Workers, Bankers, other government workers, other school workers, and other industry workers. Please don’t forget the retirees, because many of us continue to persevere in the job marketplace. Of course we can’t forget the computer geeks and the students from high school to college to graduate school. All of these people, you and I included; know much more about computers in our home lives than people ever did before.
Because we see computers in our own homes and in the homes of our friends, you and I are more likely to have formed some opinions about computers. For example, because your Windows computer locks up frequently and you lose information from time to time and you have to re-key things, you may have concluded that is a normal behavior for a computer. By the way, it is not. Because of your opinion, however, you might be inclined to think that computers that are reliable are nowhere to be found. That too is not true. Because you may run out of space in your database on your C drive and you watch your system crash, you may have already gone through a scenario that forces you to move some files to the D drive. Because of your poor experience, you may think that all computers are like that. Again, that is not the case. Theoretically, if you never got the real answers above, your opinions might stand, unchecked by reality.
Moreover, because we have all heard the names Intel and Microsoft in our homes and in our neighbors’ homes, and since we know that they make most of the computers in the world, you may think that all businesses either do or should use these very popular computers. You may not be consciously thinking about this, but if you thought about it, you may have these types of opinions from your own experience with computers. Again, this is not true but it is the normal conclusion that one would make from being in the world of today.
The point is that you have gained an opinion of computers over time because of who you are and where you go, etc. Companies named Microsoft and Intel are part of your world, like it or not. It is probably safe to say that, as a rule, unless you happen to have an IBM PC or a friend has an IBM PC (less than 5% of the market), you don’t even associate IBM with the kind of computers that normal human beings use in the course of their off work hours activities. You may think that big companies and big government and big medical facilities might use IBM computers, but more than likely, you and others like you have not bumped into any of these behemoths in your personal life.
TV Advertising Delivers the Best Message
While you and I and the rest of the listed people above, my neighbors and your neighbors are sitting at home resting, perhaps watching a TV program or a game, or listening to music on the radio, companies of all sorts are permitted into our leisure time to give us an advertising message of some kind or another that we probably would rather not hear. Somehow, with no effort expended on our part, we learn that Chevy is like a rock, and that the models at Victoria’s secret are not what are for sale, and that beef is what’s for dinner. Like it or not, they get us.
IBM is the exception. The IBM Company does not take the time to reach us at home very often, so we know little about IBM and what IBM is all about. Moreover, IBM’s messages are always cryptic so we never know what they are selling. This is a major fault of IBM’s since most of the general public knows little about IBM. Therefore, why would any one of us look to IBM for a computer for our business? Microsoft and Apple and Intel, on the other hand are lots smarter than IBM. They have some great ads that help us know they are out there and they encourage us to buy their products. It follows that if IBM were to show up with a competing offer to one of these three without having spent the effort acquainting us with IBM products, you and I and the general public would be more inclined to go with one of the three. It stands to reason that there would be an affinity with the companies that we have heard about, rather than a company that has never ever cared to tell us anything about how its products can help our businesses.
The ads from Microsoft and Apple and others that I show in the next section are very good. I present them here because IBM can and should do the same type of thing to enhance its product and company images. Have you ever seen this ad?
Our mission is not just to unlock the potential of today’s new technologies. It is to help unleash the potential in every person, family, and business. We want to help you do the things you do every day-express your ideas, manage your finances, build your business-faster, easier, and better. At Microsoft, we see the world not as it is, but as it might someday become.
How about this one?
“We stand in awe of kids and their potential. We see them as doctors, as heroes, as inventors. We see their potential and make software that helps them unlock it.”
How about this ad?
I’m writing to share a tragic little story.
My Dad has a PC that my sister and I used to use for our homework assignments. One night, I was writing a paper on it, when all of a sudden it went berserk, the screen started flashing, and the whole paper just disappeared. All of it. And it was a good paper! I had to cram and rewrite it really quickly. Needless to say, my rushed paper wasn’t nearly as good, and I blame that PC for the grade I got.
I’m happy to report that my sister and I now share an Apple PowerBook. It’s a lot nicer to work on than my dad’s PC was, it hasn’t let me down once, and my grades have all been really good.
Microsoft and Apple
Microsoft sells operating systems and personal productivity ware, such as word processing. It is safe to say that, almost everybody knows this as fact, at some level or another. Moreover, though the courts waffle sometimes about making a definite statement, Microsoft has been declared a monopoly. On the other hand, Apple is just a feisty little company taking shots at the giant every so often. You’ve just got to love Apple for its spunk.
In the Microsoft ads above, Microsoft is not advertising a product. They don’t have to. You already know what they make. They have enough product ads in your face to tell you about their new products. When you see their Windows 2003 server ad, however, you know that they are advertising a product. You don’t have to guess what they are doing as in an IBM ad. That’s because they want you to go out and buy the new version of the product and they are telling you it’s great, it’s available, and it will save you money.
In the last ad, which is from Apple, it is clearly targeting Windows client users. The product they are selling is the Apple Power Book and the ad does a good job of letting you know what they are trying to sell. The implication is that Apple is better than Microsoft, yet they don’t mention Microsoft per se, but Microsoft knows that when a PC goes down, they get the blame. Intel gets a pass on a lock, though its processors may also cause a lock problem. That’s interesting. Intel does not market to the general public and everybody, including IBM lets them get away with saying that Intel Inside means something good.
Of the three companies noted, Apple, Intel, and Microsoft, all three know what they are doing with their advertising dollars. Their ads are effective and clear and you know what product or group of products they want you to buy. If you have ever seen an IBM ad, you would not feel the same. Thus, IBM has some learning to do in this regard.
To add a little humor to this analysis, the Apple ad actually ticked off Microsoft something fierce. The big bullies at Microsoft could not let it go so they struck back with an ad of their own on their Web site. They did not take it to TV media because it did not go over too well on the Web. The ad was titled:
Confessions of a Mac to PC Convert
The ad purports to be a first-person account of a writer who decided to switch from an Apple Macintosh computer to a PC running Windows XP. It goes a little like this:
“Yes, it’s true; I like the Microsoft Windows XP operating system enough to change my whole computing world around…Windows XP gives me more choices and flexibility and better compatibility with the rest of the computing world.”
Microsoft copied the Apple ad style of having a real person do the ad, but then the media snoops discovered that it was not a real person. The company had commissioned the “ad” from a freelance writer who was paid for her work, although Microsoft claims her experience was as reported. Microsoft also had crow for a second course as it had to admit that the “convert” shown was really not the person who they were highlighting. It was a stock photograph.
Unlike what I would expect from IBM, Microsoft admitted that it was beaten, pulled the ad in less than a week’s time when they knew that they had not gotten away with it, dusted itself off, and went after the next opportunity. The company called the ad, made by Microsoft’s software marketing group, “a mistake in judgment.” The company then went through the customary, “regrets the action” routine and then praised itself for removing the page. Apple declined to comment on the Microsoft snub.
What Would IBM Have Done?
First of all, IBM does not have any wild ducks any more who would consider taking on any company so the whole situation could never happen. However, if IBM approved a marketing slam-dunk on Microsoft or any other company and it was met with any negatives whatsoever, the IBM thought police would be called in to argue with the objector. Since IBM knows what is best for IBM, the company would meet the mere suggestion that something was done improperly, with strong denials. IBM would expect that all those objecting to IBM approved thought would eventually submit. Of course, Big Blue is finding that AS/400 loyalists are as tenacious against the company’s position as a bulldog on a pant leg.
I happened to see an eServer ad myself a few days ago. I almost missed it. It was the first that I had ever seen. True to form, I did not know what IBM was trying to sell. The term xSeries did appear at the end of the ad at a time when I was hoping it was not an iSeries ad because it was a poor excuse for advertising. As good as the Microsoft ads, the bold Apple onslaught, and the terrific Intel Inside campaign are, the IBM eServer ads do not compare.
No Guts, No Glory
Unlike Microsoft and Apple, from my eyes, IBM has no guts. The IBM ducks fly no more, surely to Thomas Watson Jr.’s eternal lament. Unlike Intel, with its “Intel Inside” catch phrase, IBM has no marketing creativity. When I went to the Web to find sample Apple and Microsoft ads, they were all over the place, including their Web sites. When I looked for IBM ads, neither Dogpile nor Google gave me anything other than IBM’s peace and love campaign for Linux with the eServer pSeries. Considering that Linux is not an IBM product, that’s odd. Even when I surfed the IBM site itself, www.ibm.com, the company kept its ad text for all campaigns a secret. It’s like they knew I was coming and they hid it all. That’s how little there was about IBM and advertising. There is no apparent IBM anxiety to offer any commentary on IBM’s hardware products.
Peace and Love and Linux
A funny thing happened to IBM’s Linux peace and love ad party. They had hired artists to cover San Francisco’s sidewalks with chalked and painted symbols for its Peace and Love and Linux eServer advertising campaign. It was a good idea. City officials, however, who obviously were not consulted, viewed IBM’s artwork as more graffiti to endure and when the biodegradable material did not degrade after rainstorms; the city was looking for IBM to clean up its mess. Ironically, IBM’s one eServer campaign that was noticed became a PR nightmare. And, true to form, IBM stumbled and wondered what to do. Then almost immediately, the company was faced with another potential PR nightmare because it did not act fast enough to solve this minor dilemma. Taking advantage of a situation, Sun Microsystems, IBM’s ardent competitor in the Unix space, decided that it was time to act.
Sun did its best to turn this IBM marketing gaff into a public relations coup for itself. The company announced in the middle of IBM’s woes that it would rescue the City of San Francisco from IBM’s graffiti and it volunteered to clean up the sidewalks that Big Blue had spray-painted. It is heartening to find marketing departments that are still sharp and opportunistic and ready to strike at a moment’s notice. It is clear that IBM does not hire people like that anymore or it tames its modern ducks to meld better with its stodgy corporate culture. While IBM was taking ten years to study the matter, Sun acted. Kudos to Sun.
IBM Can Learn From Intel
When Intel is not highlighting its company name, it has no problem telling you about how special its Pentium brand is. Unlike IBM with real end user products, nobody can actually buy an Intel. They can buy Dell and HP and Gateway, which happen to have Intel and Pentiums Inside, but they can’t buy Intel brand PCs. Intel does not sell PCs. Moreover, when Intel advertises, they reach people (including CEOs) in their living rooms, not in the boardrooms. By the time the CEOs get to their boardrooms, they have a fairly positive feeling about any product that has Intel inside. And, in fact, they are probably inclined to make sure that Intel is inside, rather than take a chance on something they have never heard of.
IBM believes that it does not have to advertise its server products to regular people in their living room, though Intel finds it very effective. For about ten years IBM has promised to step up its product awareness campaign for the AS/400. The company in effect has misled its AS/400 customers on this point. That’s a pretty big sin. Al Zollar, the AS/400 unit’s [former] head, as his excuse, says he wants to see if advertising works. That’s why IBM gets beat all of the time. IBM thinks that it must prove universal truths such as “advertising sells products.” Intel just goes ahead and advertises to the public and it sets its own message rather than having it set on the street. Its customers are tickled about that and it keeps them buying Intel. IBM acts as though its customers are wrong when they ask the company to provide some advertising support to help them prove to their management that their company made a good decision. IBM can learn a lot from Intel.
A Few Test Ads for IBM–Free of Charge
If you and I can come up with ideas as to how IBM can promote its systems, then IBM and its high paid Madison Avenue cohorts also ought to be able to do so. Here are a few neat ad ideas for the living room TV. They come from the Average Joe ad hoc department. How about a big 128-bit lion or tiger or cougar or panther with a big tongue like the Budweiser frogs, talking about its next 32-bit meal? IBM must win the computer battle in the living room. How about an ad campaign that shows an AS/400 professional discussing the merits of the ‘400 with a Windows oriented computer neophyte, with the oratory–features and functions list, in understandable terms, building to a crescendo until finally, the Windows guy says:
“Hey, you don’t have to go any further; I want one of those. It’s great! I even want one in my home.”
The AS/400 professional says:
“I’m sorry, the AS/400 is “industrial strength.” It’s made to support the mission critical needs of the world. You can’t get an AS/400 for your home. It’s not a home computer.”
The Windows guy laments:
“But I want one….”
Wouldn’t it be nice to have the Windows community lamenting that it can’t get an AS/400?
“You can’t get an AS/400 for your home. It’s not a home computer,” maybe someday?
“Industrial Strength computing at its best–the AS/400.”
“The AS/400 is industrial strength”
It should be the IS/400: It’s industrial strength.
Can “industrial strength” be the catch phrase IBM has been looking for to immediately differentiate an AS/400 from the home market units? You can buy a “blippety” dishwasher, or you can buy Kitchen-Aid, which has traditionally been viewed as industrial strength. Even those that can’t afford a Kitchen-Aid dishwasher want one.
“Even those who think they can’t afford an AS/400, still want one” But maybe you really can afford one.”
The IBM Repairman Ad
How about an ad with the AS/400 computer repairman sitting in a lonely office in the same fashion as the Maytag repair man? Picture the camera moving back and the AS/400 repair office is in the middle of a repair complex, flanked by two big repair centers for PCs and PC Servers. Repairperson after repairperson are leaving the side door and coming back for more parts and bringing little PC carcasses in with them. PC users are bringing broken PC after PC through the front doors. The camera closes in on one of the repair centers and you hear… “I hope you have a backup. . . . I understand it’s your business on there but you still have to re-boot. The machine got confused.”
Then the big voice of somebody such as James Earl Jones comes on and you hear:
“If you want to have your computer available for your business when you need it, choose the Industrial Strength computer–the IS/400 (AS/400). Let your competition use a PC solution.”
This can be followed by a group of PC users coming from the repair center with big oversized repair tickets instead of PCs, looking up to the sky and crying.
“We want one! How do we get an AS/400?”
Eventually, people would know that an AS/400 is reliable and it is desirable.
The Living Room CEO
You don’t have to be technical to understand this. But the computer mindshare battle – no matter what size computer–must be fought in the living room. The living room CEO becomes the boardroom CEO again every Monday morning. They are one and the same people. People can be taught the meaning of PC, Unix, Mainframe and AS/400 in simple terms by IBM ads if IBM chooses to fight. IBM, you got that? “In the living room!” And down the road, maybe IBM can actually set the stage for something that gets IBM machines back on the desktop.
Brian Kelly is an IT consultant who heads Kelly Consulting, a practice based in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Brian is a well-known author and an AS/400 and iSeries expert. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org