To Our Informix Community and Clients:
It has been 6 months since I first wrote to you, describing our strategy for the Informix business. Since that time, we have been diligently focused on executing the commitments that I made in that strategy. I am pleased to tell you that we are ahead of the pace that I had originally set for many of the initiatives. At the same time, I have heard some concerns from the Informix community regarding the publicity of Informix in the market. I understand you want to see us working closer with the Informix community, like we have in the past. I wanted to send a short letter to update you on our progress and address the concerns that I have heard.
John Akhwari represented Tanzania in the 1968 Olympic marathon. As fate would have it, he suffered a debilitating injury early in the race. He fell well behind the pack and finally, more than 1 hour after all the other runners had finished, he limped into the stadium. Very few spectators remained, yet he persisted. Long time Olympic commentator Bud Greenspan was so intrigued, that he found Akhwari after the race and asked why he had continued, despite being so far behind. Akhwari replied, "My country did not send me here to start the race. They sent me to finish the race."
People like John Akhwari are an inspiration to us because they persist, despite the obstacles in their way. We are committed to the success of Informix. As with any endeavor of this magnitude, we cannot be measured by overnight results. We are committed to a process of improvement. While we hope there are short-term successes (and there have been some), we will measure ourselves on our ability to deliver on the strategy over time. If you are reading this letter, I need your help.
In the last letter, I articulated our strategy as being focused on 4 imperatives. The actions that underlie these imperatives are significant in size and scope. Suffice it to say, we are busy. I personally review progress against each of these initiatives on a weekly basis. A commitment to the strategy, coupled with disciplined review, is the only way to ensure results. Let me tell you about some progress in each area.
Delight the Install Base
We announced new pricing and packaging in order to make key features of Informix available in the core product, at no additional charge. This has given clients the ability to innovate in their own environment, with no additional product cost. This has been received well. The second goal was to give our partner community a more compelling set of offerings to take to the market. After making some adjustments, I believe we have hit the mark here. Partners have a richer set of offerings, priced to sell at all levels in the market, than ever before.
We have overhauled our support offerings, based on feedback from our clients. We have rejuvenated the down system line (fortunately, most clients never need this), we have introduced multi-channel support (1800IBMSERV, web self-help, e-chat, electronic service requests, etc), and we have created 'Continued Support', for those that are still running older versions of Informix. We have improved our telephony responsiveness to 25 seconds and we continue to see over 90% client satisfaction in our survey results. While we have always received good feedback on Informix support, we hope these items and others turn the appreciation into delight. Thanks to Al Martin and team for a tremendous amount of work in a short amount of time.
I will discuss our continuing product innovation in a future letter. For now, I would just mention that we launched the Panther product this month. This happens to coincide with the start of the next decade of Informix at IBM. We think you will love the product and appreciate its promise for the future.
Build Strategic Differentiation
Sally Hartnell has done an outstanding job since coming onboard. If you don't know Sally, I suggest you get to know her. She is impressive.
Create a Proactive Culture
In the future, you will see:
Build New Revenue Streams
We are also looking at ways to tie Informix to the broader IBM Software Group and Information Management portfolios. We are porting our Master Data Management product to support Informix and we have a number of Cognos partners starting to embed Informix as the warehousing solution under Cognos. All of these are exciting areas, which increase our distribution and reach.
Further, we have been aggressively driving a plan to develop more open source support around Informix. To date, we have enabled Informix support for 4 open source products and others are in the queue. I would like to thank Jacques Roy for his assistance on this project.
As I mentioned in the last letter, executing these 4 imperatives is not an event; it is a process that we will execute over a 3-year period, and beyond. We believe these are the right steps to secure the future and capitalize on the growth of the last 5 years. We will continue to take a disciplined approach to getting these done, moving as fast as we can, while not sacrificing quality or focus in all that we do.
We are grateful for our loyal Informix community. At the same time, I have heard some recent concerns about the visibility of Informix and, more importantly, the linkage with the community. I accept this feedback and recognize that perception is reality. Let me explain where we are on this and how we plan to fix it.
In the last 6 months, we have brought a lot of new players to the Informix party in IBM. I always felt that doing this was critical to our success, as we need to expand mindshare in IBM. The new players on Informix (myself included) do not know the whole community yet and at times, tend to be more focused on executing the strategy, instead of interacting with the community. I take responsibility for this. I have been driving a 'heads down' execution approach. While this is starting to deliver results, I do not want it to impact our relationship with you, the Informix community, in any way.
We will fix this by focusing on it. I have discussed this at length with the Informix Leadership Team and we all understand that we need to go the extra mile to make our activities visible. I would ask that you continue to reach out to us. This is a team sport.
With this in mind, let me introduce you to the Informix Leadership Team:
There are countless others focused on Informix within IBM. However, I want to ensure that you know the focal points for each aspect of the business.
I encourage you all to go to http://www.iiug.org/president, and share with me any of your questions/comments. If you want more frequent updates on our progress, I encourage you to visit Bruce Weed's blog (http://bruceweed.wordpress.com/). Further, there are a number of new information sources for Informix, which I have listed at the end of this letter.
I do want to extend a special thank you to the IIUG Board and Stuart Litel in particular. The presence and reach of this Board is unsurpassed for user groups in the software industry. Their focus, feedback, and passion throughout the years have been a key driver of the Informix business. As we continue on this new journey, their role will become even more important.
We remain committed to Informix. We cannot be successful without the support of the Informix Community: our Clients, Partners, and Users. If you are reading this letter, we need your help. If you do not know where/how you can help, please contact anyone on the leadership team. I remain optimistic on the future of Informix.
Robert D. Thomas
Informix Information Sources
Links to items mentioned in this letter:
ITG Whitepaper: http://tinyurl.com/2c4u9k4