As with the one in October, the iAdvocate session was a hit. We were better prepared this time with more chairs in the room - good thing, since most of them were full! We even had some of the members of the local Atlanta IBM i users group (recently renamed from AMCU to iTAC) stop by to join in the conversation.
There were again many good points made. Someone asked where the younger developers for this platform are. We’ve asked that question a few times as well and explored a few potential answers. Of course, a look around the room showed that a larger than usual number of younger developers were present at the Summit this time. One of those spoke up and said that his shop has around 30 IBM i developers under the age of 30.
So we’re making progress! If that shop can do it, so can others. Mike led a discussion about investing in creating your own IBM i developers - trained in your own philosophy and practices. As Mike said “Give somebody a break . . . Start mentoring someone new.”
Aaron Bartell reminded us that if we want to attract younger developers, we need to make sure we’re doing modern things in our shops. “If I walked into a shop where people are still on V5R3, using columnar RPG and not using RDP for editing, I’d keep walking.” Well said, Aaron!
There was even more lively discussion on what Mike calls the “positive feedback loop” - singing the praises of our platform within the shop. Sometimes our system and its reliability and capability are taken for granted because no one ever hears about it. It sits there quietly running our core business applications smoothly and efficiently. But too often when it comes to some new whiz-bang BI or Web or mobile application, IBM i is not the first platform that comes to mind as the host - perhaps it’s not considered at all.
Mike gave many concrete suggestions on how to change that. One is to demonstrate that you care about the business and that you (and i) can help by scheduling time with a company business executive and asking him or her “What keeps you up at night?” Then go away and think about what you (and i) may be able to do to help alleviate the biggest concerns of the executives in your shop.
Get in a position to lead rather than wait for someone to come and ask you for something - because they may not ask you for it; they may ask someone else. And that’s how these other (inferior) platforms work their way into IBM i shops.
In this discussion, one of our favorite suggestions was that we put up a sign in each IBM i shop - similar to the safety signs that sometimes appear on factory floors - “NN days without an accident” - that says “IBM i has gone NNNN days with no unscheduled downtime.” Of course, we’ll need to allow for a much larger number of digits than most of those similar signs!
Mike challenged us to change the discussion - don’t ask Why i? - rather ask “Why not i?”
You can see the slides that Mike used to lead the iAdvocate discussion as well as many other resources, such as case studies and independent research papers on our iAdvocate page.