• Subject: Re: IBM Spin Doctors - couldn't resist responding :-)
  • From: "Chris Rehm" <Mr.AS400@xxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 06 Nov 1997 22:22:45 -0400


Careful now, you could be proving the Mrs. correct! ;-)

>Just tried to save space.  Point was, despite what Dean may have written
>I'm certain that he was not saying ALL....if he cares to respond I'm sure
>he will.

Okay, I'll buy that. I feel the majority of managers are competent, you
and Dean feel the majority incompetent. Right?

>The AS/400 is a resounding success.  What does this mean going forward?
>Potentially nothing.

Okay, I get what you meant.

>True.  I for one thought that advertising was good.  Not the sole solution
>by
>any stretch but....the majority of the list seemed to think that money
>should
>have been spent on eduction/college programs.

>Is the engine a proper analogy?  Car advertisers do display performance,
>handling,
>quality, image, etc.

>I guess I look at selling the AS/400 being accomplished by a number of
>factors
>(all of them)
>Advertising, applications, new technologies, education, trade press, etc.
>Please
>note this are not in the order of any criteria except my scatterbrain.

I think the engine analogy is right on, my error was limiting it to cars.
I feel like advertising the AS/400 is something akin to advertising and
engine and when a customer shows up, asking if he wants to use it in a
car, boat, truck, weedeater, hedge trimmer, winch, drill, etc. Your line
of engines may cover all that, but it is more likely a well driller will
look for the drill first and worry about the engine in it last (if at
all). That doesn't mean name recognition is not important. It is. You
would like it if your potential customer showed up at the drill store and
said, "Hey, do you have any AS/400 based drills?" 

Car advertisers do advertise performance, handling etc. They can, because
they have a finished product to advertise. GM puts the same 350 engine in
many cars and trucks. In the different packages it performs different
functions and has different performance ratings. You can't advertise a
generic AS/400 as a finished solution. I can't buy a 150 and load a
terabyte of data on it, and a 640 might be overpriced as a two user
battleship game. 

>Can't.  Point was that it assumes the 10,000 apps don't do what the 1
does.
>This purchase approach, while being reality and also indicative of the
need
>to ensure as many apps are available on the AS/400, is somewhat
>supportive of the improper buying mentality that everyone has been talking
>about.

"Improper buying mentality." must equal dumb manager right? No offense,
but I find it invalid to assume that it is the sales manager's job to
research thousands of applications to find the one that is the best
overall MIS solution. Her skills might happen to be in the area of sales
management, rather than software or MIS evaluation. To the sales manager,
all she wants is to do a few things which are simple with the package that
she DOES know about. Y'know, she is pretty busy trying to manage the sales
people (her job).

Case in point, a company hires a sales manager away from the competition.
Sales manager has a technique of tracking sales in an Approach data base
and printing out graphs as an incentive for the sales crew. 

Now, manager has only green screen. Manager wants to spend a couple grand
on a PC an a copy of Approach. Is it better to point out that there are
spreadsheets for the AS/400? Better to point out that a system can be set
up to track sales directly from the AS/400 so that there will not be any
double entry? Often, it _is_ the better solution to just buy the manager a
PC and let them key their own data in. It may be discomforting to know
that you have implemented a solution that does not get backed up, doesn't
use normalized data, isn't audited, etc. etc., but if the manager can make
the company more money this way, plug it in. 

>You assume a potentially improper response.  How about being told 'Not
>that application specifically but if you want call management I have a
list
>of 10 applications that potentially do everything you need'.  Or how about
>'lets set up requirements document to ensure that all your nees are being
>met and we can send out an RFQ to a list of potential vendors.'

Um, yes, the whole point of my hypothetical was to point out the effect of
the negative response. It wouldn't be valid for me to do so by using a
positive response. 

>If the AS/400 has 25,000+ applications and 3,000+ C/S applications chances
>are slim to none that another platform supports the only true best of
breed
>application.  Granted they are there but how many?  Is it getting worse -
>potentially.

Remember that the AS/400 has so many applications because they are
inherited, from the S/36 and S/38. New platforms have the advantage of
developers choosing where to compete by looking at what is in demand,
ignoring the areas in which thousands of those apps you discuss fall. 

If I am developing an application today, I can look at the features most
desired by users of other applications and incorporate them. This gives me
a better shot at having "best of breed". (Please! Please! Please! those
fools who are tempted here to fire of an email to try and berate me for
slighting the AS/400, STOP! I am just being honest here!)

>Assuming that GUI is required.  Assuming that the AS/400 version is not
>GUI.

I made no assumption that GUI was required, in fact I stated a willingness
to give it up. I do state that it is preferable, because that may be
easier for the manager in question to learn. 

>Assuming you need MIS to research the package.  Assuming the mods are
>expensive.  Then you could have a problem.

"Assuming you need MIS to research the package."? Who's job is it???? The
manager? Why?! He found a package. He just wants to use it. He has a job
and is busy trying to do it. He doesn't say he found the best or most cost
effective possible solution. He just has found a thing that will make the
company more money. He wants to plug it in. 

>Assuming the NT app is truly implemented for a few grand and assuming that
>profitability is truly affected then your example has merit.

Yup. I make these assumptions as I am aware that the competing AS/400
appliction if found could also plausibly be implemented for a few grand on
a local basis.

>Doesn't this go back to issue of the decisions being made on what you
>heard recently.  I am assuming your point is that this is application
>driven vs. OS driven.  Does that make it any better?

No, my point is that the manager is not wrong to want to do his job
better. He is not wrong for wanting to improve the company's bottom line.
He is not wrong for wanting to earn higher bonuses. There are the things
that he is employed to do. He has found a way to do that. 

What is am getting from you is that you believe he is wrong because he
should (rather than concentrate on his own job) research applications
which are compatible with the existing MIS infrastructure. Even if he
doesn't even know what an operating system is?

Yes someone should.  Don't you think that AS/400 ads as well as application
ads would be the approach?

Uh, I think that is exactly what I have been saying! While brand
identification is important, it is not nearly as valuable as having a
commodity someone is interested in. Advertise the applications that you
want the managers to buy. Then, when the request to implement a solution
comes in from a manager, the solution will be one you CAN implement.

>Well, you know that soapbox mode.  I also blame the 'trade press' for that
>and not you.  Sorry to indicate that.

No problem. Our trade press infuriates me. The editorial whores who direct
the publications in our industry haven't a shred of ethics. They know that
Microsoft has the highest brand recognition and that if they publish "feel
good" pieces to keep the Microsoft users coming back they will sell more
ad space. So they do.

I recall last November one of the computer mags printing cover stories on
why Windows 97 (since it was "now" pushed back to 1st quarter 97) was the
most important step in computing the world has ever seen.

>Whose spending millions to develop an application he won't sell?

The guy who develops a new app for the AS/400 _IF_ the AS/400 has no
future. 

The AS/400 has no future if nobody develops apps for it. 

The application developer isn't in business to sell AS/400s. So, why risk
the possibility that there might be a short future in it?

That is why I think Java is the only hope for the AS/400. Developers need
not lock themselves into any platform to develop their new apps. The
AS/400 can see "new blood". The AS/400 becomes an easy conversion from
that buggy ol' NT server. 

>That assumes that the only money is where he is going.  I do know why he
>is in business for the first place and if he chooses to ignore a large
>potential
>revenue stream he is stupid.  Ok, maybe I shouldn't use a word like
stupid.

If he has to choose between revenue streams, he will probably look to the
trade press for some guidance. You may call him stupid for making his
choice, but I can see how an informed decision can go awry in that climate.

>Michael Crump


Chris Rehm
Mr.AS400@ibm.net
You have to ask yourself, "How often can I afford to be unexpectedly out of 
business?" 
Get an AS/400.
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