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Archives: August 2017

IBM User Groups: COMMON and SHARE

Posted on August 23, 2017 by Bill Langston

As you may know, COMMON is the largest IBM user group providing education to IT professionals who work on IBM POWER systems. SHARE is a similarly organized user group for IT professionals working on the IBM Z or “mainframe” platform. A friend at another company recently mentioned they were attending the SHARE conference. That casual comment lead me to do some research.

I've never attended a SHARE event, and New Generation Software, Inc. does not play in the IBM Z marketplace. But when I looked at SHARE's website, I couldn't help but notice how much the curriculum and feel of things resembled COMMON. Whereas in years past the sessions offered at the two conferences probably did not have much overlap, today's situation seems different. With IBM focused on Watson, LINUX, and open source software development on both POWER and Z, the technical content of the two conferences looks surprisingly similar. I believe there are some people who attend and speak at both conferences, and some of the same vendors seem to exhibit at both, too. Of late, attendance at the two conferences is also about the same.

Bringing these two groups together just might make educational and economic sense. I wouldn’t be surprised if IBM or a few large Z and POWER customers have already suggested this idea.

Posted in IBM i Marketplace | Comments


Business Partner Newsletter

Posted on August 8, 2017 by David Gillman

Fall Season Marketing

Leaves change, the weather changes, people change…but the IBM i marketplace and its customers, in general, seem to remain the same.

Thanks to their frequency and the difficulty of getting your message through to your intended audience, Webinar marketing is a challenge in 2017. I hear from partners who have been disappointed with attendance at recent events, but regardless of the attendance numbers, the more important concern is getting those who do attend to take the next step. Webinars remain a low cost way to share product and technology information, but you need a compelling subject, not a sales pitch, that raises issues your audience will want to discuss further after the event is over.

What does continue to work in the IBM i market is good old-fashioned personal contact. Calls and in-person meetings have returned as the main way to spur IBM i customers to action. It seems that what is old is new again.

Many IBM i IT people know there are additional products or services which can improve operations, but they are hesitant to sell them internally. Having an external subject matter expert come into the office both lends an air of credibility to their internal argument and gives the IT person a reason to involve decision makers in the discussion.

We can work together to create a marketing campaign where the call to action results in lead qualification and is closely followed by a face-to-face appointment with one of our subject matter experts who will travel to your area.

Watson and IBM i

If you are reselling Watson into IBM i using accounts, I would love to talk with you.

Despite several years of announcements and advertising, Watson is still in the early-adoption stage, particularly once you step outside specific industries like healthcare. NGS has created demos and business case discussions for how to integrate Watson-produced data into IBM i-based reports. They work and they make sense to customers, but very few IBM i customers are moving forward at this point.

We get the usual excuses at first – no time, other priorities, and so on. However, with just a little probing we can attain the true reasons for most small and midsize companies’ reluctance – management doesn't know how it might gain a tangible business benefit from Watson, and the IT department isn't sure how to frame the conversation needed to initiate a project. Small, focused projects targeting a narrow business use seem to have the best chance of gaining interest.

What is working for you in selling Watson services to midsize companies using IBM i?

Posted in Business Partner Newsletters | Comments


The Cost of Change

Posted on August 2, 2017 by David Gillman

Many companies seeking to change their ERP application weigh the pros and cons, comparing the cost of change against the benefits of a new system. There are lots of hard costs in everyone’s numbers — hardware, software license, implementation, and customization charges add up quickly.

For many on IBM i, the cost is too high to justify the change, especially when they can stay with a proven system that continues working just as it has done for years. But for some, the benefits of a new system are worth the cost.

Those who do opt for a new system often choose a server system other than the IBM i. In that case, the experienced IBM i technician is usually relieved of his services to the company.

Inevitably, and sooner rather than later, the company realizes it has lost a special breed of IT person. IBM i people are typically more experienced and have worked more closely with the actual line of business departments than the new IT people brought in for the new system. Basically, all that valuable knowledge in translating true business needs into IT processes is gone.

That is a huge cost only understood too late.

Posted in Enterprise Software | Comments

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