I was visiting an IBM i customer recently for a presentation on IBM i “modernization”. After the presentation, I got the opportunity to spend time with their business end users. I asked them what IT could do for them to help them do their jobs more effectively and to serve their customers better. The customer service people asked for a consolidated screen that presented a 360 degree customer view. Eliminating their current navigation through several screens would significantly shorten the time it would take them to answer calls and increase customer satisfaction. The inside salespeople told me that that their customers wanted a self-service dashboard where they could see information about their current orders and order history with charts and graphs. One user even told me she loved her green screen because it was so fast but she just wanted a way to send a shipment number from her green screen to their trucking company so she could see exactly where the shipment was in transit. Not one end user mentioned the word modernization. That is typical of what I hear when I get outside of IT. End users want solutions to their business challenges.
Modernization is an IT word and it is a defensive concept. It implies that the IBM i is old or legacy and needs to be “modernized”. The reality is the IBM i is constantly updated and is a very modern platform that supports the same kinds of new technologies you find on other platforms. What we need to do is show our end users why the IBM i is an ideal platform for solving business problems. Can you provide web-based, self service dashboards with charts and graphs from the IBM i? Absolutely! Can you call web services from your RPG programs to get valuable information from Google Maps, shipping companies, government websites, Weather.com and other resources? You bet you can. Can you use open source components to enhance your IBM i systems with the latest in mobile and web user experiences? Absolutely! (Doing this can also alleviate your CIO’s concern about how to maintain the systems when the RPG programmers retire).
These are the kinds of projects that get funded – projects that provide useful, specific business value. And there are good reasons to do them on the IBM i. For just a few of the benefits, check out some of my past blog posts or this article from eWeek.
Even Gartner Group, who for years predicted the demise of the IBM i has changed its tune and is now recommending customers take a long hard look at real costs and quality issues before trying to replace their IBM systems.
Today’s IBM i offers the latest in Open Source tools and technologies, connectivity and Cloud. We in the IBM i world need to stop talking about “modernization” (and I am a many-time offender) and instead talk about solving business problems and taking advantage of emerging opportunities using the most reliable, most secure, lowest cost to operate platform in the world.
If you need help getting started solving modern business challenges with the IBM i, contact the IBM i Champions here at Eradani