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Survey Says

The results of the 2017 IBM Systems Magazine Reader Survey.

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Content that doesn’t serve the audience it was intended for is merely words on a page or screen, so IBM Systems Magazine set out to uncover readers’ biggest challenges and knowledge gaps. This year, 323 readers took time out of their day to share with us how the magazine helps them make the most of their IBM Power Systems* investment.

The reader perspective is important, and this survey data can help IBM Systems Magazine create content that resonates with readers. “Our overall value lies in our diverse, integrated content,” says Doug Rock, publisher of MSP TechMedia. which publishes the magazine on IBM’s behalf. “Strong content, how and when you want it. That’s the value we strive to deliver.” Read on for a synopsis of the 2017 Readership Survey Results—and what they mean for Power Systems users.

Influencing Buying Decisions

IBM Systems Magazine readers hold a variety of job titles: 41 percent are IT staff members, 23 percent work in IT management and 14 percent work as systems analysts. With their extensive IT and programming knowledge, the majority of readers are involved with purchasing decisions within their organizations: 62 percent determine the need for specific products, 60 percent recommend purchases and 57 percent are responsible for defining product features. Moreover, 50 percent of respondents indicated they’ve used information from the magazine to support technical recommendations to business-line executives, and 59 percent visit ibm.com for more product information.

“Talent. There is too much variety in technology for us to stay on top of all the technology we want to use.”
—Ed Waldschmidt, IT Project Manager at PHD Inc. and an adjunct professor at Baker College

Readers also found value in business partners’ marketing efforts. In fact, 50 percent of respondents reported they have visited a business partner’s website after seeing the URL in an advertisement, 38 percent of participants said they click-through to view advertised videos and 35 percent said they registered for or attended a webinar after viewing an advertisement for that educational event in IBM Systems Magazine. Effective advertisements are also worth talking about—22 percent of participants said they discussed advertisements seen in IBM Systems Magazine with other people.

That influence spills into buying decisions. In fact, 53 percent of respondents said advertisements in IBM Systems Magazine were “influential” in their IT-related purchasing decisions. And the vast majority of participants listed all seven types of content—including industry trends, education and training, software, information from ISVs, support services, tactical tips and product news—as “useful” when making buying decisions.

Diverse Media Platforms

Digitization has proven valuable to readers, and a majority report they prefer the digital version of the magazine delivered via email—63 percent, to be exact (see Figure 1 below). When asked the reason behind this preference, most respondents said it was more convenient and environmentally friendly. One active reader, Andy Eickstadt, elaborated on the value of digitization. “I like the electronic version because I can save the PDF and put it out on our server so other people can access it,” says Eickstadt. “It keeps you on top of things, especially when you read it from cover to cover.”

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Readers turn to the twice-monthly IBM i and AIX* EXTRA eNewsletters for technical content (see Figure 2 below). In fact, 92 percent of respondents want to see tips and techniques, while 85 percent look for more technical information and 54 percent want to see more content regarding education, skills and training.

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The ibmsystemsmag.com website is another valuable asset for readers, and 70 percent of survey respondents report they’ve visited it, particularly gravitating toward specific topic areas such as security or systems management (51 percent), magazine archives (49 percent) and blogs (46 percent).

Technical information, articles on new IBM technologies and technology trends stood out as the most valuable types of information within the magazine (see Figure 5 below). When asked about their interest in reading specific types of information in IBM Systems Magazine, 244 said they were strongly interested in technical information, 223 said they had a strong interest in articles on new IBM technologies and 157 said they were strongly interested in technology trends.

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Readers also found value in webinars, forums, videos and blogs: respectively, 45 percent, 33 percent, 28 percent and 26 percent of readers found significant value in these content types.

What’s Being Used

Readers made their favorites clear when asked which databases their companies use. Eighty-four percent of respondents said their company uses Db2*, making that database the most popular. Microsoft* SQL, Oracle and Microsoft Access took second, third and fourth places, respectively (see Figure 3 below).

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While those databases seemed to have large fan bases, none of the other options rose above 11 percent, including the “other” option.

Results were much higher when readers responded to the question “Which programming languages does your company use?” (See Figure 4 below.) RPG was the most widely used at 66 percent. Java* was the second most popular with 60 percent of readers reporting that language was being used by their companies. NET turned out to be the third most popular answer, with 42 percent of readers’ companies supporting that option.

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Business Challenges

When asked about their biggest business challenges, readers’ responses were across the board, but the most common topics included talent, security, costs and convincing upper management the Power Systems platform is superior to Linux* or Intel*.

More specifically, several readers want to understand how exactly Power Systems combats security threats. Others are struggling with finding talent, and they worry about a lack of training or a lack of willingness when it comes to learn the Power Systems platform.

Ed Waldschmidt, an IT Project Manager at PHD Inc. and an adjunct professor at Baker College, elaborated on this struggle. “We should be speaking about tables, rows and columns like the Windows* guys, but instead we use files, records and fields,” says Waldschmidt. “Students think these terms are old, even though they’re they same thing, just different vernacular.”

For him, everything hinges on convincing students that the Power Systems platform is just as modern as other machines. If they’re not convinced, they won’t be willing to learn. “We have to start changing the way we think of things.”

Justifying an investment in Power Systems to clients or upper management is decidedly the most common challenge readers face. They look to the magazine for talking points to combat these doubts, and they need tools to help clients and management understand why the Power Systems platform is a more cost-effective and secure option when all factors are considered.

“Security, making executive and management board to understand the risks and impact of a security breach.”
—Anonymous

Help is on the Way

In an effort to provide readers with some guidance and consolation regarding their biggest business challenges, IBM Systems Magazine reached out to some IBMers. These experts zoned in on the overall cost and reliability of Power Systems servers, how to convince upper management the platform is superior to competitors’ products and where misconceptions about price stem from.

Susan Proietti Conti, an IBM executive project manager, and Craig Bender, director of IBM Worldwide IT Economics, shared readers’ frustration with convincing others of the superiority of Power Systems, and provided some key talking points in explaining the platform’s superiority to others. “Historically, it’s true the POWER* platform was viewed as more expensive,” says Proietti Conti. “But there are so many compelling reasons why the POWER platform is actually less expensive.”

“Power Systems servers go down less often,” Bender elaborates. “When a server goes down, there are costs associated with that. There’s the cost of bringing the systems back up in terms of people and labor, and there’s also the cost of lost business.”

Several factors contribute to the platform’s total cost of ownership. “The Power Systems platform is ultimately less expensive because it’s half the software costs. It’s less people to manage. It’s less loss of business; it’s less actual power in terms of electricity and floor space,” he adds.

“Power is ultimately less expensive because it’s half the software costs. It’s less people to manage. It’s less loss of business; it’s less actual power in terms of electricity and floor space.”
—Craig Bender, director, IBM Worldwide IT Economics

IBM has also started issuing a Power Systems utilization guarantee of at least 65 percent. “A 65 percent utilization guarantee says a lot about the server’s design, balance architecture and efficiency,” explains Proietti Conti. “It also goes back to having lower costs in terms of administration facility.”

So why do so many people still think the Power Systems platform is too expensive? Bender has the answer to this question as well. “People within companies often don’t see the whole picture,” he explains. “A purchasing department might only look at purchasing hardware, so they miss these other factors. They aren’t looking at people costs, software costs, energy costs or network costs. They don’t put the whole thing together.”

IBM has recognized clients’ concerns, and has a no-charge program to address cost-related challenges. “We can study their current Power environment, and if there’s a proposal to move to Intel, we can look at their infrastructure and do a custom assessment to spell out variables and costs,” explains Bender. “This will help them build a business case.” To take advantage of this offer, send an email to IT.Economics@us.ibm.com and request an assessment.

What Comes Next?

IBM Systems Magazine caters its content to reader preferences, and this survey provided insight that can help the magazine become even more reader-oriented. With a grasp on what readers value most, what kinds of information they look for and what helps them in the business world, the magazine can be modified based on what readers want and need.

This could include amping up the technical information, articles on IBM technologies and technology trends that readers find so valuable. It means including more information about education, skills and training, along with tips and techniques and technical information in the twice-monthly IBM i and AIX EXTRA eNewsletters.

Readers are facing myriad challenges, and IBM Systems Magazine is poised to help them overcome those obstacles with effective content in all forms—webinars, newsletters, videos, the magazine and more—that addresses their biggest needs and empowers them to defend the Power Systems platform.

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