Informing the IBM Community

New Survey by SoftLanding


Over 90 per cent of IBM i shops recognize the need to introduce new customer engagement channels, suggests new survey by SoftLanding

… but costs, lack of IBM i skills and fears about disrupting existing systems are among their main concerns 

PETERBOROUGH, NH – June 27, 2017 – 91 per cent of IBM i users questioned in a new poll said offering a greater choice of ways in which customers could interact with their companies – such as web and mobile self-service – would help improve customer engagement, and over half (54 per cent) said they are planning to introduce new customer engagement channels within the next three years. The research reveals, however, that initiatives such as this are being tested by cost considerations and IBM i skills shortages, as well as worries about making changes to core business systems.

The survey of 43 US and European IBM i shops consisted of interviews conducted primarily at two recent IBM i conferences, the COMMON Annual Conference and Exposition 2017 and International i-Power 2017, by SoftLanding® Systems, a division of UNICOM® Global.

In addition to recognizing the need to give customers a greater choice of channels, 62 per cent of the survey sample said engagement could be boosted by implementing data analytics to help understand customer behavior and preferences. 57 per cent believe it would be beneficial to enable customers to switch seamlessly between channels. The same proportion said customer engagement could be improved by creating a single view of the customer across all channels and also by greater personalization of marketing and customer service.

These considerations are reflected in many of the customer engagement initiatives that respondents said they are planning in the next three years: moving from paper to digital communications (43 per cent); implementing data analytics to improve customer insights (43 per cent); personalizing customer communications (32 per cent); and creating a single customer view (19 per cent).

“IBM i users, like most businesses today, appreciate that the balance of power has shifted towards the customer. They know they have to invest in improving the customer experience if they want to thrive and there’s a real appetite to bring in new digital technology to drive better engagement, as the research suggests. The findings also underline that IBM i shops are committed to staying with the platform as they take on these new challenges,” said Jim Fisher, SoftLanding Operations Manager.

When asked about the key barriers to rolling out new customer engagement initiatives on the IBM i, 54 per cent of those questioned in the research pointed to cost considerations, followed by shortages of IBM i skills (41 per cent). Other concerns included the technical challenges involved in bringing together customer information from multiple sources (39 per cent); the risks involved in making changes to core business systems (33 per cent); and limited integration between front and back office systems (31 per cent).

“Many of the barriers that respondents pointed to, such as costs and the technical and skills challenges, are to be expected,” said Fisher. “Our advice to anyone who is concerned about the cost and risks attached to embracing new customer engagement initiatives is to not immediately assume they’ll have to rip up or radically change their existing applications. They should look for non-invasive solutions that build on what they already have – for example by taking existing output such as bills, statements, policy documents and promotional material and repurposing it for web, mobile and social channels – without requiring any changes to underlying applications.”

An infographic that highlights the main findings of SoftLanding Systems’ survey can be viewed here:


About SoftLanding® Systems

SoftLanding, a division of UNICOM® Global, specializes in software solutions for the IBM i and Power Systems platform.

SoftLanding’s application lifecycle management solution helps IT teams to deploy software changes faster, with less effort, and eliminates errors throughout the entire development process.

The company’s enterprise content management solution releases the power of digital communications through web, mobile and email channels, without changes to existing IT systems and applications.

SoftLanding’s automated operations and performance management solutions keep core business systems running at optimum levels and prevent unplanned application downtime. The company’s menu management solutions offer easy access to corporate business applications running on IBM i.


About UNICOM® Global

UNICOM Global consists of more than forty (40) corporate entities encompassing a wide range of businesses across all geographic regions. With its corporate headquarters in Los Angeles, California, to offices in Illinois, Kentucky, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Virginia, throughout EMEA in the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland and the UAE, and across Asia/Pacific with locations in Japan, China, India, Australia, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and the Philippines. UNICOM Global offers deep in-house resources and flexible IT solutions to partners worldwide, and is continually focused on acquiring and integrating mature and growing mid-cap NASDAQ, London Stock Exchange AIM and German publically-traded companies in technology, financing, IT, real estate, and business services. Visit UNICOM’s websites for additional information about the services, products and solutions that the Company offers:          UNICOM Global – Parent organization for all UNICOM entities              UNICOM Systems – Enterprise Automation and Performance Solutions             UNICOM Government (formerly NASDAQ: GTSI) – Government IT solutions     UNICOM Engineering (formerly NASDAQ: NEI) – Purpose-built appliance platforms                UNICOM Science and Technology Parks        UNICOM Capital – Business and Financial Services               solidDB – In-memory relational database management system   – Portal for IoT, Cloud Computing and Communications Divisions                 Memeo – Enterprise-grade Secure File Sharing for the Cloud              Firetide – Safety and Security Solutions through wireless products                 DETEC – Document composition products           SoftLanding Systems – IBM i and Power platform software products                Macro 4 (formerly LONDON: MAO) – Document and Application Management              illustro – Modernization enabling software solutions         iET Solutions – ITIL ITSM software solutions                  Eden – Portal for Business and Financial Services, Real Estate and Financing         – Portal for UNICOM’s Enterprise Software Divisions


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