Why would you attend iBelieve? The marketing tagline for iBelieve New England was IBM i - A future you can believe in. Given that most people attending events dont read the abstract, is that tagline enough to make you want to go?
Maybe you did read it and still did not attend?
The first sentence of explanation was: After the huge success of iBelieve in California and New York, this free community event is coming to New England on April 22. If you have been reading the press about iBelieve, you may already know of its success. Certainly, the cost to attend was attractive.
The next sentence was: Join Dr. Frank Soltis, Pete Massiello, Alison Butterill, Trevor Perry and Brendan Kay to recognize and explore the power of IBM i. Some people would attend based on recognizing the speakers names!
The fourth sentence started with: Lunch and refreshments will be provided for attendees, and when I asked - during the introduction - why people attended, the only response was free lunch. Surely, though, not enough to cause an attendee to spend an entire day out of their office?
I think the third sentence, though, giving an idea of the content, was the key: These speakers will be discussing the innovations and skills that are driving the platform forward, and challenging some misconceptions along the way. After being at iBelieve all day, I am encouraged and motivated by the feedback during and after the event.
Comparing the iBelieve event in Framingham to previous industry events and conferences over the last few years, there seems to be a trend, which manifested itself in a very subtle manner. It seems that our IBM i community has grown more introspective in the last decade or so. What with the global financial crisis, IT budgets shrinking, and IT departments attempting to do more with less, we have not, as an industry, looked outside our office window very much.
Over the last couple of years, social media has gathered much momentum in marketing and outreach. IBM i has been represented with many bloggers, tweeters, youtube videos, LinkedIn activity and so on. IBM have appointed multiple Power Systems champions - non IBMers who are advocates for Power Systems and IBM i. And most IBM i developers are not aware of these social media activities. Even when we are subscribed to email lists for industry and community information, it seems our work has been a higher priority than keeping up to date.
Five years ago, our unique hardware+OS platform was replaced with an evolved OS running - alongside AIX and Linux - on IBMs best business hardware platform - Power Systems. Misconceptions abound, and our community has struggled to come to terms with modern vernacular and branding, we have struggled to keep our skills current, and we have struggled to keep up with rapidly changing technology.
Ready to Learn
During iBelieve New England, the audience seemed hungry to learn, eager to understand the current state of our platform, and ready to upgrade their skills. This apparently new level of interest represents that subtle trend.
Maybe that introspection of the last decade is really shows that the IBM i community has been in a funk- a green funk, to be exact. The community still uses SEU, SDA and PDM for code development. They still write applications that are solid business applications, but those have a typical 20th century green screen bent - very linear, modal, stand-alone functionality.
In the world of 20i3, the entire IT spectrum has become cloudy. Mobile devices, using a finger for the user interaction, are prevalent and filled with all flavors of business applications and information access. Development methodologies have come and gone, and some have evolved. And IBM i on Power Systems can do so much more than the previous generations of our platform could ever do.
Ready for More!
At the end of the iBelieve New England day, the audience - from where I stood as the MC - wanted more. They were eager to learn again! They were keen to look out their office window to see what is happening out in the IBM i and Power Systems playground. One attendee emailed me with the comment: I enjoyed your session yesterday and have a longer list of To Do's as a result of listening to you. Don't wish....Do - is my motto now!.
What are you going to do today?