Last year around this same time I talked about life here in IBM i development for those of us who participate in creating strategy for IBM i, Power Systems, and IBM in general. We’ve had one more lap around the calendar, and we’re back at it again. This year, the focus is greatly on the future platforms, bringing our technology to bear on business problems that are emerging, but not quite recognized yet. It’s always interesting to be part of planning three or more years out, but the significant shifts we can see from 2011 to 2015 are even more interesting than we’ve seen in the past.
Talking about the future is an interesting balancing act in the technology industry. We all know we’re going to be moving forward, but we also recognize the technology we have today is extremely valuable, and we don’t want to focus so much on waiting for the future that we neglect the value available to us right now.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I’ll be speaking at the WMCPA event. Time has flown by. Already, next week, I will be there. The title of my talk is “IBM i: Today, Tomorrow and Beyond.” As I’ve been preparing my remarks, I’ve been thinking about trying to meet my audience where they are. The trouble, of course, is that with a system this long-lived, each and every person could be at a different point in understanding the capabilities of the operating system, let alone in adopting those capabilities.
When I tell some in my audience about what’s available today (i.e., a virtualization feature such as Network Install) it will seem to them like their tomorrow or even beyond because their business doesn’t have a need for that yet. For others, however, they already know about that advanced function, they’ve even heard us talk about other capabilities that naturally follow tomorrow, and they want to see the beyond.
The nice thing about talks such as this one is I have plenty of material--there’s a great deal of capability for IBM i coming tomorrow (not literally tomorrow, but quite soon) and beyond--so I have no shortage of topics. The tough thing about talks such as this is deciding what can be shared early, and how to balance the today with the things that follow it. For example, there are shops out there that still don’t take advantage of SQL. For people like that, I must continue to focus on the strategic value of SQL, from a function and performance point of view. My talks must ensure people understand that tomorrow and beyond are only going to be interesting if they've adopted the basic foundations, and SQL is one of them. Most people are actively adopting the latest technology from IBM i to keep their business’s competitive advantage, and they adopted SQL years ago, so they need to hear about the future value more than what is available today.
I have a presentation I’ve given to several large IBM i customers–customers who have been with the platform for a long time–that describes the strategic architectural elements on which they should be building their businesses. I'm seriously considering writing a series in this blog about those elements, like SQL, so that everyone understands the table stakes required–the technologies they need to adopt “Today”--if they want to gain full value from the features we have in store “Tomorrow” and “Beyond.”
Meanwhile, I will finish my preparation for the event in Wisconsin, and then start planning for Prague, Orlando and Minneapolis. I have many customers to talk with this spring. It’s time to get started.