Angus: Do we need IBM’s help?
Having posted the IBM i community survey at ibmi2.com, the results are intriguing, to say the least. Much of the pushback about the platform and the name seems to come with pre-built tired excuses. Most of it seems to stem from resistance to change, and in that vitriol, IBM is blamed for many things, including poor marketing, ‘too many’ renames, and so on.
While the IBM blame game stems from much misinformation, myth and fairy tale, there are a couple of obvious things over which IBM does have control, which are impacting the community. First, IBM internal references to the platform. Second, IBM i OS itself. Let’s review each.
One of the common excuses is that IBM still refers to the platform as AS/400. We hear that from IBM sales people, from IBM support, and from other IBM employees who think the AS/400 is dead. During the PureSystems announcement, one of the speakers uttered these words: “IBM has been at this now for some decades. Some of you will remember AS/400. This is an application system that was an industry specialized solution, that was designed to go work. Many of these systems, by the way, are still working. I’ve happened to run into quite a few of them as I go around the world.” While we know the majority of the Power Systems team at IBM are working to promote IBM i, this is very sad.
While at the COMMON Annual Conference in Anaheim recently, the IBM Champions were able to spend a little time talking to the Power marketing team, including several IBMers with IBM i responsibility. From that, we were led to believe that there may be an opportunity for IBM Champions to talk to IBMers. Until one of us is in front of a group of IBMers, I will remain skeptical, however, it is nice to know this could be a possibility. Regardless, IBM needs to do something about this perception of IBM i inside their own organization.
Of course, that also applies to their business partners. In one hardware partner I know well, they still sell System p and iSeries to this day. While there are certifications for IBM business partners to show their skills in technical and platform sales, maybe there should be a certification required of ALL business partner employees on branding and nomenclature. Add to that a set of presentations on how to educate the customers on their chosen platform, to pitch the future of the platform and counter the competition attempting to sway those who see “AS/400” as old and outdated.
The second point is in regard to the IBM i operating system itself. There are still many places inside and around the product that require attention. One simple example is the page related to the IBM i Access product. While the ‘Client Access’ name is sticky, the correct branding is now applied to the product. Until you look at the title, which says: “IBM System i Access for Windows Home Page”. This lack of attention to detail can be another flame in the fire that burns against the current branding.
Certainly, there are a multitude of redbooks and documents that contain outdated references, and it may be appropriate to recognize the enormity of that effort and give it some leeway. And, it is important to note that none of us know, or expect to influence, where IBM places its budget for OS enhancements. Given a choice of fixing nomenclature and providing enhancements to the OS, our preference is certainly with the latter.
The issue is not so much with the nomenclature or its use (we will get through that in a decade or so), but with IBM not publicly showing their commitment to working on either of these efforts. If we are to have the IBM i branding for the long term, and IBM has committed to that, it would be nice to see a public face on these issues.
So, if these issues matter to you, ask an IBMer next time you see them. Start with your appreciation of what they are doing for IBM i and the community, then add the request for them to tell the community how they are going to address these items. Or, tweet a request, write a post on LinkedIn, make some noise on an internet forum, spread the word at your local user group – the possibilities are endless!