iManifest Web Cast: Looking for IBM i Loyalty
December 13, 2010 Dan Burger
Let’s hope iManifest can become the catalyst for change that so many people in the IBM i community have been hoping for. The hoping part is easy. It’s the consensus part that causes the community fits. Before there’s consensus, there needs to be participation and before that awareness. I see iManifest working on building its awareness level. Tomorrow’s Web cast is a step in that direction.
It is yet to be determined whether the IBM i community is unaware of iManifest or if it just doesn’t care. Let’s assume most are unaware. I can also make a fairly educated guess that of those who have heard of iManifest, there are plenty who have drawn conclusions that may not be accurate. Which is worse: being unknown or being known for the wrong reasons?
Tomorrow, December 14, at 2 p.m. CST, there will be an iManifest webcast, which is one of the steps being taken to raise awareness of the organization’s goals and the processes that are being put in place to reach those ambitions. The stated objectives are to energize the IBM i market, provide assurances to customers and business partners that the platform will continue to prosper, and to inform the IT community in general of the high value and completely modern attributes that IBM i offers.
Several key individuals who are working to build awareness and understanding will be speaking during the session. They include Frank Soltis, the father of the System/38 and AS/400 systems that predate the current Power System boxes running IBM i; Jeff Olen, a veteran consultant and educator in the i community; Mike Pavlak, a long-time proponent of IBM i and an advocate of PHP on the platform; and Jen Halverson, a marketing director for an S4i Systems, an independent software vendor. Halverson is recently added to the iManifest cause. It’s primarily her job to boost iManifest awareness and build membership. She put the Web cast wheels in motion.
Whether or not you can attend the Web cast, you can help get the word out about iManifest if you pass along the information about the meeting to others. Use mass emails, Twitter, Facebook, or whatever other methods you have at hand to contact your IBM i friends and colleagues, For those who can’t attend due to a date and/or time conflict, this session will be archived and made available on the iManifest U.S. Web site.
At this stage of the game iManifest U.S. is primarily a recruitment agency. More than anything the organization needs people. It needs an audience. It needs advocates–people who will listen and people who will contribute ideas and actions. Every company claims it listens to its customers–IBM included. iManifest is still looking for a voice. If it gets one it will be attributable to having attained a sizeable congregation.
In the early going, and up until just recently, the attempts at organizing iManifest in the United States centered around the independent software vendors and their willingness to make monetary pledges that would underwrite marketing for the IBM i. Nine companies made pledges: BCD, DRV Technologies, LANSA, Linoma Software, New Generation Software, ProData Computer Services, Quadrant Software, Raz-Lee Security, and Xperia. That momentum quickly petered out as other vendors stood by to see what would happen next. Not much happened.
I suspect the poor economy played a role in that, but I also suspect the ISV community as a whole may be unwilling to work together in the kind of effort it takes to make progress as a unified front. Much like our elected officials in this country, there are too many individual agendas, which stifle anything resembling unity. I hope they can get over that.
Maybe if the customers of those IBM i ISVs started joining iManifest–and the organization is now welcoming individual memberships–there would be increased incentive for the vendors to participate. When customers start asking vendors why they aren’t involved in iManifest, there might be some needed leverage applied. You don’t have to convince vendors there is strength in numbers, but you do have to show them.
iManifest has a group of members on the LinkedIn networking site, and that link is for a recent discussion thread. It’s not the only place you can find discussions about iManifest, but the membership there has raised the noise level lately. Much of the attention is related to what iManifest should do to effectively promote the IBM i side of Power Systems.
First of all, there’s reason to clear the air on some disinformation. iManifest has no preconceived notion that dictates promotion should be done in a specific manner. A full-page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal is one idea that’s often cited, but it is wrongly assumed by many (I think) that it is the chosen goal. It’s not. Tying iManifest to a single, splashy ad in the WSJ is doing the organization a disservice. The WSJ ad is one idea, not the idea.
Another idea for taking the IBM i message to the streets is an i-centric vendor tradeshow that would “keep the ‘i’ spirit alive and focused on ‘i’ products.” This idea is being suggested by Richard Schoen, president and chief technology officer for RJS Software. He’s joined by Chris Hird, owner of Shield Advanced Solutions, who supports the vendor tradeshow idea, as well as other events that would carry the iManifest banner. It is Hird’s opinion that the IBM i platform will not survive without the support of the ISVs. And a post by Stuart Milligan, business development director at Databorough, goes a step farther by saying IBM i is being kept alive by the ISVs more so than IBM.
I would agree that the ISVs play a critical role in the future of IBM i platform and iManifest will only be effective if it gets substantial support from the vendor community. And I see benefit from a tradeshow because of the latitude it gives to the vendors to run their own show (at their booth) within the tradeshow. It’s not as restrictive as an advertisement and is more potent because face-to-face contact leads to conversations, which lead to solutions to problems–a quicker more solid way to solving business problems. The key to this, however, is tradeshow attendance. And there are several opinions on how to attract an audience and what specific audience is best. There are also opinions that tradeshows are not the answer. One of the discussions pertains to reaching an audience outside the friendly confines of the IBM i faithful. There are many discussions. I encourage everyone to wade through some of them.
The best thing about iManifest right now is that ideas are being talked about and opinions gathered. Voices are being heard. You have to expect the vendors to play a large role in this if this is to gain meaningful momentum in terms of marketing the IBM i. But I would encourage individuals to become members as well. The organization will need the support of tens of thousands of individuals backing the IBM i platform in order to be taken seriously both within the community and by those on the outside who wonder what the heck this i thing is all about.
Learn more about iManifest by tuning into the Web cast live on Tuesday or by grabbing the recorded and archived version in the next couple of days.
We’re all part of a common thread. We share the territory and can help communicate a message. It does no good to be hacked off and uncooperative. Get on board, grab an oar, stick it in the water, and start rowing.