That’s the only word to describe the last two weeks. I’ve been planning the iBelieve European tour for months, and five countries and almost 400 attendees later I’m delighted at the response from the European IBM i community.
It’s fair to say that we were encouraged by the number of registrations prior to the events, but those numbers gave no indication of the positive attitude that would greet us in all five countries. Delegates ranged from CEOs to Systems Administrators, and from some of the world’s leading blue chip organizations to owner-managed consultancies. In general though, they share a passion for the platform and a desire to see it recognized more positively within their organizations.
IT Jungle’s Dan Burger described the original iBelieve events as “church”, with Trevor Perry dubbed “Preacher Perry”. I was a little uncomfortable with the analogy at the time – I recognize how important the platform is to the community of developers, vendors and users who rely on it daily, however surely there’s a difference between appreciating the server and worshipping it?
Over the last two weeks though, I’ve encountered groups of people who are working hard to balance ever-increasing demands on their IT departments with the ever-decreasing resources available to them. This is why they value the IBM i platform so highly – it enables them to place trust in the infrastructure and focus their time on delivering user requirements. Their admiration and passion is focused on what the platform allows them to achieve, not on the actual box itself.
The people we met on this tour were great! They were enthusiastic and motivated, and almost all had managed to rise above the cynicism that can be so pervasive in our industry. Yes, some of them struggled with IBM’s marketing approach. Certainly, one or two would change the way RPG has evolved. But in general terms, they were all willing to take a positive view of the future, and to recognize that the biggest driver for the longevity of the platform is the community itself. Where they could have been negative, they chose to be realistic, and what a difference that makes!
It’s important also to draw attention to the hard work and commitment of the leaders of local and European COMMON groups who worked with us to bring the tour together. Many of these groups have had a very difficult 2013, with the cancellation of the COMMON Europe conference raising questions over the future of user groups and events. But their flexibility, attitude and general desire to serve their members left me in no doubt that these groups have a bright future in the hands of this bright and innovative group of people.
So it’s been an amazing experience, and certainly one that I’d like to repeat in the years to come. To make that worthwhile though, we need to decide how the content should progress in order to help attendees move forward. This tour was about encouragement and debunking some myths. It's created a strong foundation that future events can build on, but I’d love to hear about topics you'd like to see addressed? These are community events after all, so it’s appropriate that the community influences the direction they take. Please feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your thoughts on the future direction of iBelieve, or indeed of the European user community in general.
And one more thing – have a blessed and peaceful Christmas, and a lively New Year :o)
EMEA Manager, looksoftware