Though many of us personally like to feel that we are individuals, that we don’t follow the crowd just to follow the crowd, the same does not seem to hold for businesses. Businesses seem to like to know that they’re not alone. Businesses want reassurance that, while they try to be unique – or at least better than their competition – in some real way, they’re still doing things the way others do them.
This shouldn’t surprise any of us who work for businesses. Our executives, our technologists, are constantly looking around to see what other companies are doing, to see if those others have found something that brings a competitive advantage. But they also look around for other companies that are doing the same things they themselves are doing, to provide some reassurance that the choices they’re making are not out of step with the mainstream.
Consequently, one of the frustrations in the computer industry, and certainly in the IBM i customer community, is a lack of visibility to other customers who are using the same technology – IBM i in this case. I can tell you, factually, that IBM i has more customers than any other IBM platform, that we still have easily over 100,000 enterprises of one size or another actively using IBM i and its immediate predecessors, that we’re still sold and have active customers in more than 115 countries in the world. I can tell you these things, but if your company doesn’t know other companies using IBM i, you might still feel alone.
As you might imagine, we at IBM don’t have the right to just tell everyone the names of our customers. To help with that barrier, some of our customers, such as those in the iManifest groups, have voluntarily advertised their use and happiness with the IBM i platform.
Infor recently held an IBM i user conference in Phoenix, Arizona, and the temperature wasn't the only thing that was hot. Infor demonstrated their dedication and commitment to their IBM i clients with new product announcements and exciting future plans. Guy Paradise from our team delivered a keynote presentation on Power Systems and IBM i directions. This was a high-energy event and it was great to see hundreds of dedicated clients all moving their businesses forward on IBM i and Infor solutions. Infor's announcement of next year's conference in Las Vegas was met with enthusiastic applause and is sure to once again be hot, hot, hot. At these kinds of events, the companies that attend can clearly see others that are using IBM i. That’s one reason why COMMON and other customer groups around the world are so great.
In this blog, I am going to start telling you about customers I meet or events we’ve recently held with customers who are actively using IBM i, as long as they allow me to use their company information. I’ll have another event to discuss next week, but I got to wondering if maybe we could use some social media to help IBM i people realize they are not alone. Here’s what I am thinking.
I am on Twitter these days. I know, some people hate the idea of Twitter, some love it, and most people still can’t quite figure out what its real value is. But hear me out.
What if every business that’s using IBM i created an account on Twitter, or asked one of their employees who has an account to use it, and then each of these companies tweeted a simple message:
#ibmiuser <Company Name> <Link to Company Website>
In Twitter, that “#” (called the “pound,” “number sign,” “cross-hatch,” or “tic-tac-toe thingy” – it’s a technical term) – that “#” indicates that a searchable Twitter tag follows. If you want to go find the tweets that have anything to do with IBM i, you can go search for #ibmi and you will see them. So, if we had companies go tweet #ibmiuser <Company Name> <Link to Company Website> they would be doing two things: advertising their company, and stating that they use IBM i (or i5/OS if they’re still on V5R3 or V5R4). And then people who wanted to know the kinds of companies using IBM i could just go to Twitter and search #ibmiuser.
This blog gets read by many hundreds of people a week. If each of them tweeted #ibmiuser, that would be a start. It’s still not 100,000, but perhaps the people who read this can tell their friends about it. More precisely, if business partners and ISVs asked their clients to do it, then we’d get an even bigger base. Ultimately, if the IBM i user community were able to see that others are using IBM i as well, then they would realize the truth that’s out there: we are not alone. (OK, did anyone else just think about the poster in Fox Mulder’s office? Sorry. Geeky TV reference there.)
You and i are not alone. I know this to my core because I get to deal with so many customers as I do my job. Here’s hoping that those of you who are actively and happily using IBM i can find each other and realize just how many ways IBM i is being used.