• Subject: Re: IBM Spin Doctors on AS/400 Marketing
  • From: mcrump@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 21 Oct 1997 12:49:46 -0500

>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):
>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'.)

That's unfortunate that they are upset.  I was pleased at soundoff that the
panel seemed to take the comment to heart.  I fully expected to hear - "how
can we be marketing badly when we've sold over 450,000" or something to
that effect.  I did not get any impression that the panel members were
defensive.....I also felt that certain people (Malcolm Haines - Sommers
maybe being the difference) from IBM were receptive if not in agreement.

>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.

While the item got beat up in the Soundoff session, I personally thought it
should.  I have felt this way for years - I thought what you and Bob Tipton
said was done properly and was exact to the point.

>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).

I wonder if the dissappointment from Rochester is that this issue is taking
away from the thunder of the 8/19 announcement and V4 and the emodels?
This maybe unfortunate but it is reality.  Also, you and a few others said
sV4 quality was great and performance was fantastic.  We, as customers,
really do appreciate this and I don't think enough good things can be said.
It still does not change the issue around marketing.

>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.)

Well, that is bull----!  (Not you, but IBM).  Customers are probably just
as concerned as BP's.  I am a customer and I have to market the machine
internally constantly.  I would say that on a weekly basis something comes
up that is based on an improper perception, trade press articles, in-flight
magazines, or competitive vendors statements that I have to defend against.

>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.

Agree 10,000 percent.

I wonder if the verocity of the negative statements has them suprised.  I
have been thinking about this constantly since COMMON and have plenty of
thoughts I won't bore you with.

<Soap box mode on>
Here is one thought though:  I feel that there has been plenty of vapor
competition to the AS/400 over the years (it's a niche machine, it's slow,
it's expensive, it's proprietary, it's a dead architecture, etc.).  Not to
say that these are not based on some truth but the effect is that we
(customers and business partners) have had to defend the system constantly.
It gets old and now we have NT (after literally beating the pants off of
UNIX) that does not compare and should not be compared to OS/400.
Competition is not bad - the AS/400 is not the answer to all computing
needs and isn't the best of breed in all areas (just most ;-).  I don't
mind competing when it's proper I just literally get pissed off (sorry but
it's the best description) competing against vaporware, function yet to be
delivered, future promises and improper perceptions.
<Soap box mode off>

The worst thing IBM can do is get defensive or do the Ostrich (heads in the
sand).  Again, I am dissappointed because I walked away from COMMON
thinking that they listened......

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