Thursday, July 23

iManifest Update: no more heroes?

As The Stranglers once asked; whatever happened to all the heroes? You know, those characters with the boldness to act and sufficient fortitude to accept the consequences without regard for self-interest. I'm asking the question because, while the response to my call for participation of iManifest EMEA has resonated loud and far, support has come predominately from small players in the IBM i community.

Now, don't get me wrong, this support is most welcome but we also need some Tier 1 vendors (other than LANSA) to participate at the higher levels of funding. We simply cannot afford to fly this plane with only Economy passengers on-board. I am not disheartened because the recruitment process only started two weeks ago and, frankly, the silly summer holiday season is not the best time to launch a recruitment drive in Europe! I went over the background material I have on the formation of iManifest Japan and was reminded that the iManifest Executive committee was formed by a few Japanese ISV companies, IBM resellers and iMagazine KK in May 2008. Their manifest was published in the NIKKEI newspaper in January 2009. So it took them a fair few months to get organized and we should expect the same.

It is usual for a fund-raising initiative to chart its progress in some public way and it seems almost obligatory to use a thermometer bar. So here is one I created for iManifest EMEA that I will update on a weekly basis. I have used the cost of the full-page advert in the FT (Europe edition) as the initial financial target - €81,000. Remember, I have pledged the first 10% - so that's the €8,100 kicker you see - and the rest is all the qualified pledges received to date.

iManifest EMEA fund raisingI don't have a good handle on whether my call for participation in the iManifest EMEA initiative has reached the upper echelons of our community - those with the authority and financial wherewithal to say, like me, "that's a bloody good idea, we'll have a punt". I am grateful for all the media coverage and the declarations of support this publicity has generated. But now I'm asking you to go check with your boss if a) they are aware of the initiative and b) will they come out in support of iManifest EMEA? There aren't many vendors in the IBM i community whose revenues put them in the Tier 1 category; let's say north of USD 30 million per annum. So if I can get a quick read on reactions from this group then I can determine whether this proposition is ever going to be financially viable or whether I am doomed to endure a Branson-esque solo endeavor.

We have started a group on LinkedIn that serves as a virtual departure lounge for passengers on the inaugural flight of iManifest EMEA. You can apply to join the group or please feel free to express your interest in private by email to martin.fincham AT

Remember, in life if you want different results then sometimes you need to try different things. That philosophy is part of what is driving me to push forward with launching iManifest EMEA.

Tuesday, July 7

iManifest EMEA: Call for Participation

When your image is in the toilet, and you need an urgent public makeover, then you call Max Clifford Associates. But a modem is no longer bundled with an IBM i server so it can’t dial Max for help! One might also turn to a parent for support in times of need but … well, say no more. So we, the IBM partner community, must band together to correct some misconceptions and promote longevity of the world’s best business server – the IBM i.

The launch of the iManifest initiative in Japan has generated an unprecedented level of buzz in the worldwide IBM i community. My original post on the topic is, by far, the most viewed and linked-to page on this blog. We have all no doubt read the extensive coverage by the U.S media and today I learned that the ServerNEWS magazine (reaching some 20,000 I.T professionals in Spain and Latin America) has devoted two pages in their July issue to the ‘IBM i Manifest’.

Last month I offered to kick-start such an initiative in EMEA by helping to construct the board and committing some seed funding. The response was overwhelmingly positive, except for the people who know me and observed that “I don’t have the time” for another new project! Well, we can always find reasons not to do things but why let something as trivial as a 24-hour day stand in the way of progress?

It was bold of our Japanese brothers-in-arms to announce their pledge in a national business newspaper. The cost of such a public declaration sends a clear message of intent to the market and makes this initiative standout from other ‘flash-in-the-pan’ endeavours. While Europe has several pre-eminent business newspapers from which to choose, I am inclined to believe that the Financial Times has the best pedigree and broadest reach in Europe. The rate card for a full-page advert with European distribution is £69,800 (€81,000). We need vendors from the IBM i community in Europe, the Middle East and Africa to come forward and agree to participate in funding and forming iManifest EMEA.

Aside from agreeing the objectives of the group and the mechanics of its formation and management, obtaining seed funding and nominating board members are the most important first steps. The coalition will be a toothless tiger unless we can quickly raise, in principal, the circa. £70,000 required to fund the placement of a full-page advert in the FT. The vendor community may have other ideas about how best to raise the money – suggestions welcome - but I jotted down the following model over breakfast.

Assume 50 founding members from the IBM i vendor community (ISVs, SIs, Consultants, Media Publishers, Event Organisers etc). Some major players must be willing to stump-up serious money to overcome inertia. Like the business model of an airline, the economy seats would be unaffordable [to the masses] were it not for the patronage of the few business-class passengers. So passengers on the inaugural flight of iManifest EMEA (an advert in the FT) can buy tickets in one of three classes:

  • 3 seats in Business class (10% of the advert cost)
  • 6 seats in Premium Economy (5% of the advert cost)
  • 40 seats in Economy (1% of the advert cost)

This ‘aircraft’ has 50 seats (because we all like round numbers) so my model leaves 1 spare seat that will be offered at no-charge to a worthy individual or organisation that the founding members deem beneficial to have on-board. A nomination and voting procedure for the ‘free seat’ (1 member, 1 vote) will follow directly after the 49th seat has been sold. Once all 50 passengers are on-board we will be cleared for take-off :-)

NOTE: I have already ‘purchased’ one of the business-class seats for €8,100 on behalf of LANSA to get the ball rolling. I will also under-write any of the incidental costs incurred in getting us off the ground – but I can’t foot the fuel bill on my own for very long!

The format of the advert will be similar to that used in Japan with the name of each Founding Member listed. I propose that the 9 largest contributors (those purchasing seats in Business and Premium Economy) form the Transition Board with me assuming the mantle of Chairman pro-tem. The Transition Board will meet in-person within 30 days of placing the advert and within 90 days of that meeting the Bylaws will be agreed and published. The Transition Board will be dissolved and members will then put themselves up for election for a 1-year term (1 member, 1 vote from the 50 founders). After that, who knows? Let’s channel our energy and enthusiasm into getting this bird off the ground, rather than drawing-up and filing a complex flight plan.

So, who’s with me? Please come forward as flying solo is no fun for me.

You may either declare your interest and financial pledge by commenting directly on this blog post (if you want to make a public declaration) or send me a private email with your commitment or question. You can get my email address from the profile page.