• Subject: Re: IBM Spin Doctors - couldn't resist responding :-)
  • From: mcrump@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 7 Nov 1997 12:24:37 -0500

<big snip>

Before I say anything I have to say I loved your commercial ideas - the
one appeals to my slightly caustic sense of humer!

>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 really disagree with you here.  I think the major bone of contention
is that there are those of us who want/wish/desire/believe IBM should
approaching the sales of it's systems by distinct brand image.
One can take the position that by not doing so they minimize
canibalized sales.....I don't know if we will ever know if this works or
doesn't.  If one takes the position that this generic approach creates
the most sales you will never get them away from it.   But, you could
take the car analogy a little further like I think Art did.  The various
car manufacturers all advertise their brands somewhat individually.
Is this done as a detriment to others?  Probably.  Is this a perfect
analogy to IBM?  Maybe, maybe not.  Does this decrease the over
all sales of the company?  Maybe, Maybe not.

>"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).
Well I was trying to use less harsher words than dumb or stupid.  You say
if often
enough it's like the boy who cried wolf.

You are correct.  I guess the point I was trying to make is that what we
saying here is who gets the ads out for the applications wins?  Granted no
has the time to there job 'properly' but wasn't it you who said not very
decisions are made based on the 'just heard recently' process?

Or does this still get back to the application vs. OS difference?

<big snip>

>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.

Agreed to a point.  New apps need to come on board but I haven't seen
a major shift away from bread and butter applications despite all the
e-commerce hype.  Major business functions aren't a whole lot different
than they were 5 years ago (accounting, purchasing, MRP, data collection,
warehouse management, call management, sales reporting, freight
management, forecasting, scheduling, etc.).  Have these existing
applications stop being needed?  We have plenty of new
technologies or application enablers but to me it doesn't make sense to
dismiss most of those 25,000 + applications as not having a market and
fulfilling a need.

And so on and so on.  I guess we could say that 25,000 is great but it does
need to keep moving forward, right?
>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!)

I'm probably being dense here but I don't understand what you are trying
to say here.  And I'm not trying to berate you  :-)
>"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.
Well, if the decision is based on one advertisement and one package
how much effort is it to find another one?  Is research really needed?
cases  you could spend 5 minutes thumbing through News/400, MC, or
Midrange Systems and find something.

Part of this goes back to the 'just heard recently' debate.  Based on what
you are saying this happens.  Ok, now can one assume that it does
reach beyond single applications to a system?  I think it does and I think
others do to.

Your points are pretty valid here and possibly I'm being a bit
There are some ways that this reality of application buying is a pet peave
of mine but that is probably  a point for another discussion.

>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?
In this light I would have to say you are correct.  Question though.
How often does this happen:  Bob reads application ad, Bob believes
application can save money or generate revenue, Bob buys
application, Bob implements application, application cuts costs or
generates revenue just the way the ad said it would?

My experience has been that the failures exceed the success's.
The longer the decision process is the better the success rate.
Is Bob's management by advertisement worth the failure rate?
How many applications are out there and being used, not
considered a failure, but never lived up to the cost savings or
revenue generation that was promised when bought?  How many
silver bullets never get shot or when they do there duds?

>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.
Agreed.  I would like to see and do still see the benefit of increasing
brand awareness of the AS/400 on it's own merits.  Would this not help
attract vendors to the system?  I've heard Rochester is hard at work
at getting vendors to port their apps but......
>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.

Couldn't agree with you more.  I always wonder why certain PC models
always win best of breed comparisons when for us they end up in the
junk pile.

>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?

Agreed.  Again though, doesn't advertising the AS/400 help those
very intelligent forward thinking software developers?
>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.
I don't see JAVA as THE savior for the AS/400 but it definitely can be one.
the developers centralize on JAVA for applications development....it might.

Chris, hopefully I don't come across as terse as I think I might.  If I do
I apologize.
You and I agree on a lot more things here than we disagree.

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