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 lansa-europe.com.

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.

8 comments:

Tom Presotto said...

Martin, who knows about your initiative ? Did you broadcast the information through the "standard" channels other than the blog and the iNews web magazine ?
I'm telling you this because none of the big ISV I have talked with here in Italy was aware of it.

We should convince IBM to play a hidden-sponsor role in the background.

Martin Fincham said...

Tom, I have publicly done no more than you can see and touch. I am hoping that others will do more to promote and support iManifest EMEA if they believe in the cause. This is not my initiative, it is OUR initiative.

Regarding IBM, co-incidentally I had a conf call yesterday with the global and EMEA leads from the iCare team. They are positive and keen to assist, while acknowledging the independent nature of the group. There will be follow-up actions by them in the spirit of encouraging others to participate. Their help is warmly received but, given our independent nature, such assistance should not be assumed or relied upon.

It is imperative that we find a way to get the Tier 1 distributors on-board as they have tremendous reach and resources. It was the distributors in Japan that became the catalyst for the group's formation.

I am juggling just how much of my employer's time I should spend being pro-active on this [boss, if you're reading this it's not very much, honest guv]. I could pick-up the phone and start pitching to more people, but I'm paid to sell LANSA products. The community needs to rally around the flag I have staked in the ground and that includes the recruitment process.

Ian Piddock said...

Tom, after speaking with the big ISV's in Italy about iManifest, were you able to gauge their level of interest in the initiative? It would seem if you have such reach into the community you could be an important advocate. It’s just this sort of activity that will help spread the word and raise the profile.

Tom Presotto said...

Ian, as my shoulder aren’t big enough to bear the necessary organization engine to drive successfully this initiative, I “transferred” it to DUKE Italy (publisher of the Italian version of the “System-i news” magazine). They are promoting it according to their own business model that doesn’t completely match what I’d have done.
They are promoting it as a main event in Milano followed by replicas into the other major Italian cities. What is missed in their proposal is the wide communication campaign made of small articles, to keep the whole cost acceptable, on the major IT/Business/Financial magazines and newspaper.

Aaron Bartell said...

After such a magazine ad is published in a non-IBM mag, what exactly are the readers going to gather from the ad? Will they know some specific features of the IBM i that they just can't live without? Will it be generic to the point of not knowing what to do with the information? What action will they be able to take upon seeing/reading the ad? Is there an example of the ad that you want to place in current existence?

Note that my questions might be out of ignorance, but they are the same questions that would be asked by an organization wanting to contribute to know if it was worth their money.

Tom Presotto said...

Aaron, the article, or articles, “should” remove the old suit that hides the capabilities of the present AS/400 architecture.
Nowadays most of the AS/400 abandonments, in favor of SAP or Microsoft, comes from executives that consider the system not adequate to run modern applications.

Martin Fincham said...

Aaron, to answer your question I need to go back to the origins of the iManifest initiative. The name iManifest comes from the creation of a manifesto that pledges independent support to, and implied longevity of, the IBM i system. In other words, in the case of the Japanese market, you have 70+ vendors (whose annual revenues probably total more than €1bn) stating very publicly that their livelihood depends on the vitality of this platform. So however IBM chooses to evolve this system it should be seen as being 'too big to fail' because of the wide and diverse user base backed by a dedicated third-party ecosystem. Such a proclamation is one way to reassure the market and give people confidence in the future - a bit like we've had to do with the banking sector. I believe that until people have such confidence then trading facts about features & benefits vs. XYZ other server is fairly pointless. We must accept that the IBM i has an image problem, derived mainly from ignorance, and someone (or some group) needs to take on that PR challenge.

The advert idea, cribbed shamelessly from the Japanese model, is about publishing a manifesto and the list of supporters. The Japanese manifesto is linked here (http://www.iforum.ne.jp/images/library/File/IBMi_manifest.pdf) with an English translation here (http://www.iforum.ne.jp/images/library/File/IBM%20i%20Manifest_20090113.pdf)

Any such manifesto, political or otherwise, needs some kind of high-profile PR activity to get the ball rolling. Our Japanese brethren choose a full-page advert in a national daily newspaper and, given the fragmented nature of the EMEA community, I feel that a similar advert in the Financial Times will achieve similarly good results. I have no empirical evidence to support this view but I do travel extensively around the region and can see which media channels span both countries and the IT/Business readerships. But it's just one idea and I have a very open mind. It will be for the founding committee members to actually decide the best way forward.

Martin

Anonymous said...

What the Japanese have done seems to have set a new precedent. Perhaps a "confession of love" for the reliable AS/400 hardware IBM produces. What is shameful in my opinion is that IBM has taken no marketing heed to capitalize on this confession. Is the "True Blue" so lethargic or ill sighted to see it's lover on his knees on the other side? Surely this is not right. Hamad