IBM i Market Is Looking for Help to Modernize
We recently engaged the market research firm Sylvestre & Co. to gather some Power System IBM i market intel on behalf of Fresche. We reached out to 12 organizations to understand their IT goals and gain insight into their knowledge and understanding of application modernization and learn about their needs. More specifically, we wanted to hear about their current relationship with their IBM i and what application modernization means to them.
We discovered that most companies don’t know what options are available to them and prefer to rely on their trusted partners for help. Great news for IBM Business Partners.
IBM Business Partners such as VARs, MSPs, CSPs, Independent Consultants and System Integrators are critical in helping Power Systems users modernize their applications and take advantage of modern technologies and languages, new hardware, cloud and hosting solutions and more.
Below you will find the key takeaways from our focus group that we hope will help you understand the tremendous opportunity that exists for IBM Business Partners:
Takeaway #1: IBM i has value
Organizations agree that their IBM i is easy to maintain and is the best-performing platform for enterprise applications. Most IBM i clients we spoke to said that their IBM i is the most reliable platform they were running. It doesn’t require a DBA or many resources to maintain the applications. It also gives them the best performance, compared to other platforms they run.
However, communicating the IBM i’s business value internally is a challenge for some organizations. Many IBM i users still refer to the system as AS/400 or iSeries and many of their C-level executives aren’t aware of the new features that are now available, such as mainstream languages, open source and web and mobile technologies.
Companies can do pretty much anything with their applications on IBM i. Here are a few things that partners like you can do to help IBM i clients maximize the value of their systems:
- Deploying web and mobile applications (as opposed to green screens) and leveraging the wealth of information in their IBM i applications can go a long way in delivering tremendous value to the business.
- Web applications can increase revenue with B2B or B2C eCommerce applications. They can also integrate with other systems and platforms to provide better service to clients and partners. In addition, web applications have a modern, familiar interface that can reduce training costs. IBM i support for open source languages also helps organizations find new developers and take advantage of modern web and mobile technologies.
- Extending IBM i applications to mobile devices allows companies to extract more value from the platform. Imagine sales representatives accessing pricing and inventory on smartphones or CEOs viewing sales charts on tablets. It’s even possible to replace paper-based processes with mobile devices in the warehouse.
Web and mobile technologies are ideal for an agile and phased approach to modernization that allows organizations to see business benefits quickly. All of the initiatives listed here support business needs and are often achievable with existing staff, the right tools and the right business partner.
Takeaway #2: Companies need help to understand the ROI of modernization
Some IBM i shops struggle to make the business case for modernization and how to determine the business value and impact that modernization will have on their organization. Funding for IT projects needs to be tied to an ROI and you, as a local partner, are in the perfect position to help IBM i shops understand which modernization projects will help drive the best return.
Reality is that the business world is changing and, if companies want to stay competitive, they need to do business in modern ways. Here are some business benefits of modernization that you can deliver to IBM i shops:
- Ability to transact online
- Easy access to information for customers and partners on the web and mobile devices
- Ability to remain on the IBM i, which is a reliable platform, while delivering innovative and competitive solutions
- Modularizing the code to integrate with other technologies
- Improving business processes to reduce costs and effort
- Repurposing existing applications by offering self-serve, browser-based access with modern user interfaces. For many companies, this is a first modernization step that gives them a significant competitive advantage over competitors who still use green screens.
Takeaway #3: Companies think that modernization is more costly than it really is
Organizations shared that they believe modernization is out of reach because they think the costs are high and they don’t have the time to dedicate to lengthy, multi-year projects. That’s where trusted partners like you come in, with tools and human resources that make modernization possible and affordable.
There are many different approaches to modernization and there is almost always a solution to fit the business need. Companies don’t have to do it all at once, and modernization doesn’t mean they have to rewrite all their applications. They can start small: Address modernization in bite-sized pieces where they can control the budget, see short term results and improve the odds of success. Additionally, once the benefits are realized, it’s often easier to get business support and buy-in to accomplish more.
If organizations only see modernization as moving to a new ERP or moving off the platform, then modernization is time consuming and costs millions of dollars. These projects almost always span multiple years, exceed deadlines and have ballooning costs without providing any advantage over IBM i. Modernizing applications, on the other hand, enables companies to leverage their existing environment while investing as little – or as much – as they want to get the results they’re looking for.
Examples of modernization projects that deliver business value and that can be accomplished in a short time frame include:
- Transforming green screens into web pages, like Michell’s B2B online ordering eCommerce site
- Creating simple mobile applications like the one that Alfa Aesar created to allow customers to order products from PCs, tablets and smartphones
- Replacing paper-based invoicing processes within days or weeks, like the implementation that a wholesale distributor underwent to provide employees, partners and customers secure access to digital invoices and other documents
- Leveraging existing applications to deploy eCommerce sites, like the one that Stafford Group launched in just a few weeks
All of the above projects can be completed quickly and have a positive impact in the business.
The biggest takeaway:
The main thing we learned is that companies are looking for a trusted advisor – someone to help them understand how to start modernizing, determine which projects will deliver the best value and come up with a modernization strategy. IBM Business Partners were identified as IBM i clients’ trusted advisor.
If you’re an IBM Business Partner looking to help your Power System clients while growing your business, you will want to talk to Fresche about the Fresche Power Partner Program. This program was created to help IBM Business Partners like you to deliver modernization solutions and successful modernization projects to the IBM i community.
Examples of partners who have grown their businesses by partnering with Fresche:
- Greenlight is now delivering new value to customers with Fresche solutions
- Agilysys gave a graphical interface to its solutions for better competitiveness
Bottom line? There’s a huge opportunity for you to grow your business while helping IBM i shops derive more value from their IBM i. Learn more about joining the Fresche Power Partner Program. You can reach us at: firstname.lastname@example.org