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.


John Dyer said...

Good show, Martin! I hope we'll see this initiative in the US.

Best of luck.

Tom Presotto said...

I'm a free-lance consultant with a long story of 21 years with IBM (1979 - 2000) and 6 years with Microsoft. I was so impressed by the Japanese initiative that I decided to promote an equivalent one in my country. Since I cannot do it myself, I’m trying to push it through the Duke magazine “System-i news”. Here follows an English translation of the Italian text that I wrote as a letter to introduce the initiative to the SIs and ISVs.

In June 2008, the IBM platform, which is still often called by its original name AS/400, celebrated its 20th anniversary. Over the years it has often changed names, the current one derived from the family of the Power6 processor that runs the systems is: "IBM Power Systems with IBM i".
The architecture and basic concepts have remained unchanged but in the long course of its history, design and implementation have always adopted and used the latest and most innovative technologies available.
No other IBM system can claim such a story of unbroken protection of past and future customer’s investment. Platform stability is well recognized within the operating system, hardware, data security and confidentiality, robustness and low TCO combined with an higher ROI than the average. These excellent qualities are now obscured by an erroneous perception of the platform as antiquated or, to put words in English, "legacy".

Along the lines of what is undertaken in Japan by about 70 software houses whose business, or part of it, is closely tied to the success of the AS/400, Duke will promote a structured initiative aimed at removing the negative image that is negatively influencing the business of the AS/400 Italian ISVs and Sis.
The initiative’s main goals are: the revitalization of the market, hoping for an increase in the installed base through the development of new applications, inform the IT communities of the uniqueness of the value of the IBM proposal.
The pivot themes of the Duke program, called "i + Power", to promote and disseminate the modern technologies and innovations offered by the platform, will involve the native IBM technologies, hardware, operating system and development tools, together with the many solutions and services offered by partners.
Combining together our voices we can communicate and show how to build and modernize existing applications to exploit the benefits of SOA, the Cloud Computing, and the potential of Web 2.0.
Long live the AS/400.

Tom Presotto said...

The approach that I have in my mind is quite different. Instead of publishing a single big manifest on one of the most important newspaper, I’m thinking to publish many small articles on the most influential IT magazines addressed at the executives.
The cost of any single run is in the range 1500-4000 € depending on the size and the quality of the magazine.
Supposing 50 ISVs decide to join with 3000€ each, the net result is 150K€ which should be enough to run a wider on longer advertising campaign.
Please help me “see” the negatives sides of my idea.

Martin Fincham said...


Your suggestion is valid and it's certainly not for me to decide exactly how we implement the manifesto. Once we have enough real members (paying passengers) and an interim board then we can debate and decide the first actions.

I like the idea of an advert in the FT (like the Nikkei) newspaper because it is a stand-out, symbolic gesture and more likely to reach the real executives (including IT) who most harbour the legacy image problem and consequently make the decision to replace the platform. My company (LANSA) is one of the more prolific advertisers in many i-related journals worldwide and I can tell you from this first-hand experience that the readership is not so much IT executives anymore (more RPG developers and IT ops people) and the effectiveness of the medium is waning when compared with days of old. In other words, some of these titles are preaching to the converted (no bad thing) but not what we need iManifest to achieve.

Thanks for your interest and support.


Disk Chick said...

I agree with Tom - a link is a link is a link. If twitted and swept correctly we can have many more readers. Actually, all we really need is a free webpage.

Viral marketing is just that - we can accomplish this via grassroots.

Naz said...

Martin, I just read your article in the IT Jungle (http://www.itjungle.com/tfh/tfh092809-story03.html).

I have always asserted that the IBM i is the "Macintosh of the Midrange".

Martin Fincham said...

Naz, I've heard others, like Dr. Frank Soltis, say that if the world was a sane and rational place then every midrange server would be an IBM i and every PC would be an Apple. As I'm still on the Microsoft xmas card list, I had better not comment any further ;-)