iManifest Begins i Marketing Fundraising in the States
October 5, 2009 Timothy Prickett Morgan
And then there were three. iManifest organizations that have been set up to do IBM‘s job of trying to market the Power Systems i platform, that is. Jeff Olen, who runs Olen Business Consulting and who has put his two decades into the AS/400-i market like many of us, has grabbed the iManifest baton and is off and running with an iManifest organization for the United States.
iManifest, you recall, got its start in Japan in late 2008 and culminated in a group of Power Systems i partners banding together and pooling resources to take out a full-page advertisement (at a cost of around $100,000) in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun business daily (or Nikkei for short). The Nikkei is the Japanese equivalent of the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times. (See IBM i Manifest Takes Root in Japan for more background on the original iManifest movement.)
In July, Martin Fincham, the general manager of application modernization tool maker LANSA‘s EMEA region and a blogger in the i community (see My Midrange Meddle), took up the challenge of starting an iManifest organization that is raising money to promote the i platform, and most likely with a full-page ad in the Financial Times, at cost of around £69,800 (€81,000).
Olen got to talking to Fincham about the lack of an iManifest organization in the United States, and decided to take the bull by the horns.
“Being a long time i developer, I have made a very comfortable living for the past 20 years, so I don’t mind giving something back,” Olen explains. “I looked around and saw nobody was doing this in the States, and I thought that was kind of stupid.”
To get started, Olen has created an iManifest U.S. Web site, which is located at www.imanifest-us.com. And like the iManifest EMEA effort, i partners and interested community members are being asked to donate according to their ability using a tiered scheme, with the ultimate goal of shelling out $150,000 to buy a full-page ad in the Sunday edition of the Wall Street Journal to tell business leaders about the benefits of the i platform and to show the commitment of the i community to that platform.
Here’s how the tiering works. Olen reckons he needs four companies to step up and donate $12,000 a pop, and expects those companies who make $30 million or more a year selling Power Systems i hardware, software, or services to do the heavy lifting. The next tier down has to kick in $6,000 each, and Olen says that iManifest U.S. will need eight such partners. Then there are the next tier down, the 36 companies that will be needed to kick in $1,500 each to make up the remaining balance on the cost of the ad in the WSJ.
As of last week, iManifest U.S. had lined up $28,000 in total commitments, including support from DRV Technologies, LANSA, ProData Computer Services, and Raz-Lee Security. That’s a start, but a lot more independent software vendors, resellers, and consulting firms have to step up to the plate to get to that $150,000 price tag for the WSJ advert.
Ditto for iMainfest EMEA, which now has a nearly identical Web site at www.imanifest.eu. According to that site, €11,340 of the €81,000 needed to buy the full-page FT ad. So far, LANSA, Raz-Lee Security, SAMAC, SystemObjects, and Systsoft Systems and Software have stepped up to the plate for iManifest EMEA.
The economy is not so great, companies and their employees are nervous, so this is not a good time to be doing fundraising, even if it is for a good cause, such as reinvigorating the i platform, which I most certainly approve of. Given this, I offer one humble suggestion. Do a fund raising drive to the actual i community of end users, something more akin to why the local public radio and television stations do here in the United States. Let many people kick in a little bit of money. It works.
Cash is tight with my family right now, as it is no doubt for yours, but I always donate to my local stations. Specifically, I give cash to WNET, Channel 13, for the News Hour with Jim Lehrer; WNYC, for the news and American songbook with Jonathan Schwartz on the weekend and the Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keeler on Sunday; and WFUV, Fordham University radio, which has the best mix of music you can find on the airwaves or streaming on the Internet. These stations are a part of my life, they keep me in touch with the world and I am happy to give them money.
I feel the same way about the i community, and that is why I have worked so hard for my own 20 years on its behalf as well as my own. So to that end, our Four Hundred stack of newsletters would be thrilled to help promote such a grassroots fundraising effort, through public service announcements in our newsletters, if the iManifest EMEA and U.S. organizations set up some means for automated fundraising.
This will allow iManifest on both sides of the pond to reach its goals much faster, I believe. It would also create a means to continually raise funds for sustained marketing from a very large base of prospective i community members. This, I believe, is the key. One blockbuster ad shows seriousness of intent, but a sustained marketing campaign wins the war.