Our Take: IBM i is a Vibrant Market August 12, 2009
The article, “Is IBM Still A Hardware Company?” appeared early this month on the System iNetwork website. And it struck me as relevant to Varsity Logistics, as the leading provider of shipping and transportation management software and solutions for the IBM i (System i, iSeries, AS/400) platform.
It seems to me that IBM has been a solutions and services provider (not merely a hardware provider) for a very long time. Early on, when the immature state of technology required investment in–and direct, far-reaching participation in–the hardware business, IBM was there (to serve its customers with “total solutions”).
What always mattered to IBM has been the services and value its customers derived from the myriad solutions it offered. At Varsity, we have also thought through this question in many contexts as well (product development meetings, strategic planning sessions, etc.).
We discovered that Varsity, as a business, is focused on meeting the needs of a very clearly defined group of customers engaged in shipping and transportation management. What defines that group of customers is their (as we like to say), “industrial grade” shipping requirements.
This in turn has caused them to invest in the IBM i platform over the years as a way of reliably running their businesses. Some customers are running old versions of AS/400, some are running the latest versions of the i5 OS on advanced multi-operating system hardware.At Varsity, we see ourselves as the company that “earns its keep” by meeting the shipping and transportation management needs of all those customers, needs that are unique because of the platform choice. We are not sentimentalists, but realists. We don’t see our market as legacy, but as a large group of vibrant, growing businesses.
Our job is to help that very special group of businesses to ship well and economically through our software solutions and integration and consulting services. While some of our former competitors, may have looked at this market as one whose time has passed. We don’t, and we value it. Staying focused and disciplined has been a key to serving our customers well.
To serve our market, we’ve needed to invest in product development and R&D, change management, customer support, training and education, and (most importantly) in a dedicated group of experts. By doing this, we’re managing to remain efficient to deliver an attractive value/cost ratio to our IBM i customers.
But more important than anything, we think we’re managing to remain focused on serving our unique customers as operating, changing businesses. And THAT is our business plan for the future.