PowerWire.eu had the pleasure last week to interview the newly appointed, Worldwide Head of marketing for IBM i, Brandon Pederson, who had kindly given us some of his time out of his day to answer a few questions.
PowerWire: Brandon, for our readers who don’t know about you already, can you give me a brief description of your background, for instance are you an IBM i specialist yourself or are you from a marketing background?
Brandon: I started with IBM in 2014, IBM Middleware, so webserver application server marketing, until 2017 when I came over to IBM POWER systems and I worked with the overall portfolio, but mostly I worked a lot with IBM i because I was the worldwide and continent community manager, meaning I owned the overall relationship with the POWER systems community and as you know most of that community is IBM i. We have a rich heritage with IBM i, and I got really familiar with IBM i and got to know the community I managed. I also managed our CHAMPION program, which has now been taken over by someone else on our team, so I got to know the Champions and the IBM i community and that really helped me as I moved full time into the role of IBM i product marketing manager in early summer this year.
Powerwire: – It’s great to see the launch of the new IBM i Community badges, can you explain to our readers how these came about?
Brandon: – Sure, IBM listened to the IBM i community as well as our customers and partners and they informed us that they would like us to introduce some kind of badge program to recognize the passion and commitment of the people who campaigned about our robust system over the last 31-years, and that we (IBM) realize that their support is part of the reason why IBM i has grown and continues to grow and develop.
PowerWire: – How will these Community Badges work?
Brandon: The Community Badges will award certified users of IBM i for their efforts in campaigning and educating people to the potential that IBM i & POWER systems offer, the Community Badges are a follow on to the IBM CHAMPION programme we run. One of the benefits is that businesses or individuals can be assured that if a person is displaying one or more IBM i Community Badges then they are dealing with a certified person who fully understands the platform and who have been recognised for their knowledge and contributions by IBM.
People who have completed the certification and earned one or more badges can also add their badge(s) to their CV’s, to show the skill level they have achieved.
Digital Badging is just one way of us ‘Thanking’ these people for what they have done and continue to do.
PowerWire: – Do you intend to organise conferences just for people who hold an IBM i Community Badge?
Brandon: – No, we don’t have any foreseeable plans to organise specific events or conferences for holders of Community Badges. But digital badges/certifications are big in the industry, not just within IBM, IT specialists can obtain badges from suppliers of other platforms/systems (after passing the relevant certification) and add those to their CV, if they so wish, and showcase their broad knowledge.
Our annual IBM i conference is sufficient at the moment for new announcements, upgrades etc, and of course everyone who uses IBM i or POWER systems are invited to attend. The idea of the IBM i Community Badge is that an owner of one or more, can display them on their website, media communications etc, and that the badge will confirm that the person is a genuine IBM i expert, or Champion and we (IBM) know them!
PowerWire: – So the badges’ have a dual purpose; they show that the person they have been awarded to is qualified and knowledgeable about IBM i, but also that they are a community leader or part of the IBM i community.
Brandon: Yes, IBM wants to acknowledge the passion that these people have put into our beloved system and we know that this is one of the reasons why the system has grown over the past 31-years. Digital Badging is just one way of us ‘Thanking’ these people for what they have done and continue to do.
PowerWire: – I’ve got to say that it is nice that IBM is now recognising the efforts that communities have done and continue to do, will you be attending any of the events/conferences that these people organise in 2020?
Brandon: Yes I intend to attend these conferences but obviously I can’t attend them all! But I would like to try and attend Common Europe and International i-Power in 2020 if I can, personally I like visiting Europe and feel that attending these conferences will be a great opportunity for me to meet not only the community leaders but the attendees, partners and customers.
PowerWire: That is great news, we look forward to hopefully seeing you next year.
PowerWire: – Speaking with the IBM i Community, one of their main objectives has been and continues to be to appeal to graduates and school leavers and introduce them to the IBM i arena. By that I mean we want younger people to work on IBM i and POWER systems, so that they can replace existing professionals who may be coming up to retirement. One example, in June at their annual conference, i-UG introduced STEM into their conference and had RAF cadets at the conference who had designed and built their own aircraft, using computer technology. These young people are our future and the user group want to support these young people.
Do IBM have any plans to bring younger people into IBM i & POWER systems and if so, how are you trying to attract them?
Brandon: Definitely, working in IBM i we have a Fresh Faces Program where we recognise upcoming IT professionals working not only with IBM i but with the POWER systems platform overall and we publish these ‘Fresh Faces’ in the IBM System magazine twice a year. I wouldn’t like to use the term young or old, but they are up and coming professionals who are doing some really cool stuff and are really transforming their organisations or their clients organisations with IBM i and its great to see their passion for the platform. Other than that, internally IBM have hired a lot of younger developers to work on IBM i and building out the platform.
As you’ll probably have seen, we have had a big push around Open Source on IBM i and currently have over 300 open source packages available, which is growing every week, part of the reason for that is to give clients more flexibility, more choice in what they build with. Also the new group of developers coming up, all they know is open source, everything to them is open source, they grew up learning PHP, python etc. Python is the most taught language in universities now, so that is another side of the Open Source wave, getting new talent on the platform, as long as they know PHP or python or any other language it really doesn’t matter what platform they are building on, so that is another strategy we have to get a new generation of developers working on IBM i.
PowerWire: Open Source is the future for sure. Brendon, it has been nice to talk to you and I hope we can talk again in the near future, perhaps at one of the community conferences in 2020 🙂