• Subject: IBM Spin Doctors on AS/400 Marketing
  • From: "Al Barsa, Jr." <barsa@xxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 21 Oct 1997 10:31:51 -0400


For those of you who were NOT at Soundoff at COMMON in San Antonio.  I was
the first speaker (kind of a tradition), and I spoke about four topics (and
my conclusions):

1.  V4R1 Quality

        * AWESOME

2.  General confusion and poor quality of AS/400 interactive source debuggers

        a problem, but a nit (I had to complain about something technical!)

3.  AS/400 Marketing as perceived by installed base and mass public

        a critical problem in my opinion (and the topic of this post)

4.  AS/400 Educational Offerings available and positioning in higher

        Also a severe problem, but getting (some) focus from Rochester

Well, as it turns out, Rochester is very upset about what I said about
marketing - item 3.  (I did not blind-side them about this fact, they knew
in advance.)  In fact there is a broad tradition of IBM being unhappy about
what I say at Soundoff. The last time they were unhappy, I was complaining
about V3R1 quality.  (20/20 hindsight being what it is, I probably
shouldn't have used the word 'sucks'.)

I spoke about the effectiveness of AS/400 marketing, Bob Tipton spoke about
it, and the audience applauded robustly and lengthy for each of us, as they
did for the others that followed us.  In fact, this is documented in IBM's
internal minutes from Soundoff.

Personally, I've taken a lot of heat from Rochester.  When I attended the
Rochester Summit (a Business Partner event) two weeks ago, an IBM VP
attempted to perform rectal surgery on me (a polite way of saying... -
something better done by the Mayo clinic).

Now, the IBM spin doctors are saying that it was non-customers who were
complaining, not customers.  Let me say once and for all, the AS/400
Division has a communications problem.  I hear it every day from my
customers, and from AS/400 users throughout the world.  IBM would like you
to feel that this is a Business Partner issue, however this is a
diversionary tactic.  This is the equivalent of putting their heads in the
sand. (You would need a big desert, *SAHARA.)

The AS/400 is the best computer platform in the world, and the AS/400 is
IBM's best kept corporate secret.  (After all, Microsoft uses it!  Not to
mention a wealth of other technology firms like Gateway 2000, Packard Bell,
COMP USA and Nintendo.)  We (AS/400 Divison, IBM BPs and AS/400 users) are
ineffective at communicating this message to the general public.

If you hear this response from an IBM spin doctor, please set them straight.


PS:  This message has been blind copied to the appropriate people at IBM.
I purposely decided to not list them to avoid them being bothered.  I've
bothered them enough recently.

PPS: An IBM exec asked me to take the word 'bullshit' out of this memo, and
I was happy to oblige.

Al Barsa, Jr. - Account for Midrange-L
Barsa Consulting, LLC.  
400 > 390

Phone:  914-251-9400
Fax:    914-251-9406

Private mail should be sent to barsa@ibm.net
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