iManifest U.S. Adds BCD to List of ISV Supporters
November 9, 2009 Dan Burger
A good start is great, but it’s follow through that buys the bacon. When Business Computer Design, better known simply as BCD, joined the iManifest U.S. membership last week, I asked Eric Figura, director of sales and marketing at BCD, how iManifest compares to programs IBM has attempted in the past.
Although we were talking on the phone, I could imagine his head shaking as he said, “iManifest is a commitment to marketing our platform that has been gone for some time at IBM.”
There was a time when IBM had a good track record, Figura recalled. The company looked for ways to promote the platform. There was a focus on marketing the i and on other important aspects of the community, like the developer roadmap.
“I think IBM has lost its way now,” Figura says with regard to Big Blue’s attention to a platform that as he puts it “has been very good to IBM for decades.”
Although some would say that IBM has dropped its platform-specific approach to marketing, Figura says the other platforms–AIX, mainframe, and System x–have maintained the focus that is not there for the i. “The people who we had who were doing a good job are gone and they have not been replaced. IBM seems more focused on taking than giving.”
After 30 years in the AS/400 market, Figura says he considers joining iManifest as being what good partners in the community do.
“I knew that we were going to get involved with iManifest long before making this announcement that BCD was joining the initiative. It was a matter of making the contacts. BCD has always promoted the platform. We’ve been telling the market, ‘Anything you want to do in the world of modernization, you can do on the platform right here, right now.'”
For IBM to wipe the slate clean by determining that because more money is made in services and software and, therefore, hardware is going to take cuts in its marketing budget does not sit well with Figura. For years, his advice to IBM has been “Don’t lose your way. Keep your focus.”
As he rightly points out, there’s a sizeable and satisfied client base that is committed to this platform. And to go along with that is a sizeable ISV base that is committed to the platform. Now is the time, he says, for the vendors to step forward and show their commitment. The ISVs are on the line to deliver the message about the i. In addition to BCD, the four other ISVs that have signed on with iManifest are LANSA, ProData Computer Services, Raz-Lee Security, and DRV Technologies.
There are several ways of doing this, Figura says. One is by making a financial contribution to iManifest like BCD has done. Another is to carry the message of iManifest to business partners and customers. The third is to evolve existing products and reinvest in new products that expand what businesses can do on the i platform.
Every ISV and every IBM i customer, the way Figura figures it, should have a vested interest in decisions for the common good and in the success of the i. He expects iManifest to pick up speed as more ISVs get onboard, and that it’s too early to make any judgments on success or specific directions. The awareness level is growing, but it takes time. Just like one ad in the Wall Street Journal can’t remedy years of marketing neglect, the iManifest needs to be built for the long haul.
When asked about his concerns about getting the majority of ISVs to join iManifest and then what it will take to harness that group into a group with a marketing focus, Figura responded, “How many directions can it go? You only have to pull one direction–forward–and that’s promoting the i.”
Simple, but true.