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Innovative Solutions Drive the Next 30 Years of IBM i

June 21, 2018

We’ve had almost three months of celebrating IBM i’s 30th anniversary, and while I’ve been busy with clients and user groups, I’ve been collecting several ideas for blogs. Today I’m going to talk about innovation, particularly in solutions developed for IBM i.
One of the things you might notice if you read through all the client stories on the #IBMi30 site is the recurrence of one company in several stories. CD Invest is a small partner company in Belgium, and their primary business is to create software solutions for clients. I met Koen Decorte, the part-owner and lead developer of the company, and heard about his approach to business. It’s become clear to me that the future of IBM i is very much dependent on people like Koen and companies like CD Invest.
Koen knows several long-time IBM i clients who needed to make significant investments in their software solutions to give their businesses a competitive advantage in today’s high-tech world. These companies initially believed they needed to migrate from IBM i and the Power Systems platform. They thought of IBM i as “just a green screen database machine” and they thought they couldn’t find any new developers to work on their heritage RPG code.
Koen knew better. He’s followed the introduction of many new open-source capabilities on IBM i, and he knew about free-format RPG and the transformation tools that exist. He approached each of the clients and described a path forward. And, because CD Invest has a long history of delivering on promises back to when Koen’s father ran the company, they gave him a chance.
The results were everything they hoped for—and more. And it’s all a result of Koen innovating with the current capabilities of IBM i. Let’s talk about a couple of the stories and I’ll show you what I mean.

Jori is a manufacturer of luxury furniture. To quote the client story on the #IBMi30 site:

“Customers love to view products before they part with their money. There is also an increased desire for personalization and customization, so each consumer can order something unique to them. The company was struggling to meet this need without overwhelming in-store sellers with options. To solve this challenge, JORI created a web-based 3D configurator tool running on IBM i, giving both customers and their sellers realistic virtual previews of a furniture piece that help close sales faster and accelerate manufacturing.


“Working with IBM i Business Partner CD-Invest, JORI built the 3D object database in the integrated Db2 for IBM i, and used IBM i RPGLE web services to communicate via JSON with the front-end configurator program, which also runs on IBM i.” 


JORI3.jpgNow that’s cool! Additionally, the story doesn’t mention that Koen hired some young developers to handle the workload and bring specialized knowledge to the problem. E.g., he hired a developer who had learned the Unity 3D gaming software, but hadn’t heard of IBM i or RPG. That developer got a higher paying job, was able to apply his skills immediately, and because CD Invest uses Free Form RPG and Rational Developer for I, he learned how to work with RPG. 

CD Invest used the success with Jori to springboard to other clients, as well. Let’s look at another.

Fibrocit is in the business of selling seating for locations such as auditoriums, theaters, etc.  Like Jori, though, they wanted to move into a world where their clients could get a view of what their product would look like before they buy. Again, to quote from the client story:

 “They were looking to automate their design, planning and business processes to improve customer service and speed up their time to market. The company teamed up with IBM i Business Partner CD Invest to develop a set of business applications running on IBM i in a private cloud hosted on Power Systems, empowering the company to modernize its core operations. CD Invest is working with Fibrocit to develop a project management and integrated accountancy system as well as other innovative business applications running on IBM i and Power Systems.

“To aid in the seating design process, CD Invest is also helping Fibrocit build a 3D configurator tool, which will enable its teams to build and adapt designs on three-dimensional photographs of customer’s spaces they are working on.

Note that Fibrocit has requirements that are similar to Jori, but they also wanted some business applications. CD Invest could apply their long-held experience creating business solutions on IBM i, while also applying their newly gained knowledge in 3D modeling. And it all runs on IBM i.
These are just two of the five client stories involving CD Invest. (The others are Deknudt Frames, Cras and ORIS.)
Each of these clients has set themselves up for the future by using IBM i technology, and the credit for that goes to a software partner who recognized the power of the technology we’ve made available in RPG, open source, and Db2—and engaged clients who had a business need.
Does this sound familiar?
In the early days of AS/400, business solutions succeeded on the platform when the solution developers took full advantage of the capabilities of the operating system and the database.  Today’s IBM i success stories are also tied to software developers who look at all the tools in their IBM i toolbox and choose the tools that help clients move forward.
This is a common thread for nearly all the client stories. Partners who want to help clients keep learning about the new capabilities of IBM i, Power Systems, RPG, open source, RDi, SANs and so on, and then help clients improve their business results.
It’s a good approach to business. And it’s what will help drive IBM i into the future.

Posted June 21, 2018| Permalink