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Promoting IBM i—Triggering Events

June 13, 2017

If you are involved in the infrastructure of your company, or you are on the application development team in your company, you have specific skills related to the platforms you use. Those skills are your “bread and butter”—they put food on your table. And yet, at some point in your career, the leaders in your company are going to evaluate whether they want to move away from those platforms. (This is true no matter what platforms you use. I’m most interested, of course, when one of your platforms is IBM i, but this sort of evaluation happens for all kinds of businesses using all kinds of IT infrastructure.)

Well, when you hear that your skills might no longer be required at your company because of a decision to change platforms, that can be quite a shock. What will your reaction be? When I encounter people who are in this situation, they are often in a panic.

The reasons people panic are pretty consistent: surprise and missing information. That is, they didn’t see this platform re-evaluation coming, and now that it’s happening, they don’t know how to get the information they need to respond.

I try to help these people move from panic to promotion; that is, to helping their company realize that the best option is to keep the IBM i platform. I have written a presentation called “Promoting IBM i—Business & Technology” and today I am going to cover the first part of it—avoiding the surprise.

Before a company launches a platform evaluation, there are often signs, which, if you recognize them, would allow you some time to prepare. Generally speaking, these signs fall into three categories: triggering events, buzzwords and hot buttons. Today I’ll talk about the first of these, and then I’ll write about the other two next time.

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Triggering Events
There are a few common things that can happen that will cause a platform review. If you see any of these, be ready. Your bosses will be looking for useful information.

New Leadership:  Any time a new Chief Information Officer or new Chief Technology Officer is named, you can be fairly certain that some level of platform review will happen. Most of these people are very driven to make their own mark on the company. Many of them will come from outside the company and have very little, if any, experience with IBM i. Some will be promotions from within, but they too might not know IBM i. And, if you are fortunate enough to get a new executive who already knows the value of IBM i on Power, they still might be requested to undertake a platform review.

If your organization is smaller, the same sort of thing can happen with a new CEO, or even a new Director of IT. The point is, while most of us would prefer to stay out of the politics involved in the executive level, a change of personnel at that level is very likely to cause a review of the IT infrastructure. If you see this happening, it’s an indicator that it’s time to start gathering some information to show the value of the platform.

Periodic Due Diligence:  As I mentioned in another recent blog, platform comparisons often happen on a regular schedule in a business. These intervals are often defined by one of two things: the calendar or a planned financial commitment. Some organizations have three- or five-year plans. These calendar-based platform comparisons are used to ensure the company is clear about its goals, is organized properly for its strategy, and so on, but these often lead to an examination of technology assets. Alternatively, companies decide to re-evaluate their assets, particularly their IT infrastructure, when a big financial decision must be made, such as purchasing a new system or renewing a contract.

So, if your company last conducted its five-year planning four years ago, you can bet they will do it again soon, and it’s prudent to get information ready. Similarly, if you know that new systems will be purchased soon after the next fiscal year begins, it’s to your benefit to start gathering information to help your company realize that a new Power System with IBM i is the right way to spend that money.

Growth: If your company is undergoing a significant amount of growth, congratulations! That sounds like an environment for job security, and it probably is. But it also means that your executives will be wanting to ensure that their IT infrastructure can handle the ongoing and anticipated workload. You’re in good shape, of course, because IBM i on Power can scale very high with no disruption. In fact, many customers have systems which have far more capacity than they are using, and upgrading on demand is a strength of Power. Still, your executives might not know that, and they still might want to do some comparisons.

Merger & Acquisition:  Every single time companies merge or are acquired, a decision must be made about which IT resources will serve the new organization. Sometimes, of course, the “worker bees” don’t have any warning that these business decisions are being made until the merger is announced. Still, whether you know about it beforehand or not, once you do know, it’s critical that you be able to address whatever concerns your organization might have about the platform you’re working on.

The News: This one is more nebulous, and far less predictable, but it’s still a frequent “triggering event.”  When a large company has a data breach, for example, and it hits the news, company leaders can get concerned about the status of their own data. This can start a full review of the practices within the company, and that can easily lead to an examination of the IT decisions the company has made. Other less dramatic “news” can also trigger re-evaluation—e.g., if your company uses a particular software package and it gets bought by another software company.

I’m sure, if we thought hard about it, we could think of even more “triggering events.” And next time, I’ll write about buzzwords and hot buttons, which can also cause platform reviews. The point, though, is not the specific list, but that a little forethought can help each of us raise our awareness for signs that we might soon need to provide a justification for IBM i on Power. And, as the saying goes, “forewarned is forearmed”—or it can be, if you know where to get the information you need to be “armed” for the kind of “battle” which can take place in a platform comparison.

This is not the end of this particular discussion—it’s just the beginning. If you have a chance to come hear me speak at any event this year, this topic is one you will likely hear from me. But if you don’t, I hope to use this series of blog posts to give you critical information about how to defend your platform.

If you can wait, great. If you can’t, you should come hear my presentation. And if you can’t wait for that, then take a look at my past blogs, especially the “Executives Reinvesting in IBM i”  post I wrote, to get at least a few good pieces of information.

Until next time, keep your eyes open and be prepared!

Posted June 13, 2017 | Permalink

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