BeNeLux Power: A great investment in 2016 and for the future

BeNeLux Power 2016 bills itself as Europe’s smartest IBM Power expo and conference, and we certainly agree! There was so much there to benefit attendees, from technical training to latest trends to tips and “how-to” advice from industry leaders. Fresche was pleased to attend the conference both as sponsor and as a company deeply interested in everything Power and IBM i. We listened to the speakers, attended workshops and had a chance, once again, to meet and discuss hot topics with you – our clients, partners and IBM i community.

Some of the great speakers this year included Scott Forstie, who led workshops, gave presentations and also delivered a keynote address to keep everyone up to date on the latest developments in IBM i’s evolution. IBM database guru Birgitta Hauser ran a highly informative workshop that taught attendees how best to create and maintain database objects using IBM i Navigator. Paul Tuohy added a BeNeLux Power-Certified deep dive on SQL for IBM i developers and a subsequent session on embedded SQL in RPG. Yvonne Enselman discussed different software development lifecycles (V-model, Waterfall and Iterative) and the different testing that they require. And those are just a fraction of the very many highlights of this year’s conference.

In addition to the workshops, certifications and presentations, the BeNeLux Power conference presented their Excellence awards and provided a variety of vendor solutions, in particular from Remain Software, Pantheon Automatisering, Inform’aid and many others.

What we heard at the show

One of the great things about attending conferences organized by COMMON is the opportunity for networking. Everybody knows that getting together with other users and partners and having time to hear their real-world stories is almost as beneficial as the official conference activities. What we mostly heard from attendees is that they’re having difficulty maintaining and evolving their IBM i applications. A shortage of skills due to a retiring workforce is only increasing the challenge. Ideally, you’d spend 60% of your effort maintaining existing systems, and 40% preparing for the future. But as we heard, 90% of your effort is typically required just to maintain the status quo.

In a recent focus group run by Fresche, we uncovered other modernization-related concerns that are common to many IBM i users. As part of our ongoing mission to help clients maximize the value of their RPG and COBOL applications, we’ve published some of the focus group results on our Web site: http://www.freschelegacy.com/en/articles/holy-what-ibm-i-organizations-think-about-modernization.

We all know that IT needs to remain relevant to the business and take on a more strategic role by supporting the organization’s rapidly changing needs. In many cases, it’s a question of taking a smart and gradual approach to modernization, where incremental enhancements add up to continuous improvement. In Scott Forstie’s keynote address, he laid out the IBM i roadmap for the months to come, and that’s something that every IBM i shop needs to have – a customized roadmap for their own modernization.

Fresche’s experience shows that breaking a modernization program up into a series of well-defined, achievable mini-projects is the single best planning effort that IT can undertake to support evolving business needs. This strategy allows organizations to control spending in relation to the business benefit they will get out of the modernization activity. What we’ve learned is that there is a modernization strategy for everyone, regardless of budget, size or capability and that there is real business value to be gained.

Getting out to BeNeLux Power and any other COMMON conference is one of the best ways to ensure that you learn how it’s done. In addition, you get to keep up with evolving IBM i trends and best practices and meet great people who share your interests.

These events are money well spent for 2016, and a great investment for your future. What’s important is to make sure you look to 2017 as the year you start applying all the great knowledge that you’re gaining and begin building on and leveraging the incredible value in your IBM i applications.

We’re looking forward to seeing you all again next year!

The Fresche team