It’s Back to School Season – Register for a TFG Class

Posted by Kim May on September 11, 2017 under Authorized Training Partner, DB2 Education, DB2 for Linux Unix Windows, DB2 for z/Linux, DB2 for z/OS, Global Skills Initiative, IBM Training Services Delivery Partner, pureScale, Q-Replication, TFG Blog.

With school back in session it feels like a good time to learn something new.  Why not consider taking a class?  IBM Analytics classroom training continues to deliver value to individuals and their organizations.  The top 3 reasons to take a class (in my opinion!) are:

1. Achieve your project goals more quickly by supporting faster solution adoption and integrating new technologies into your current projects.
2. Stay on top of rapidly changing technologies; compete in the digital world by understanding how and where new tools and solutions fit best.  Avoid the “flavor of the week” solution if modifying a technology you already own will deliver the same results.
3. Provide opportunities for internal mobility.  Finding skilled technical resources has never been more difficult.  Current staff members understand their organizations.  Providing training keeps employees engaged, motivated, and moving up!

Our classes scheduled for September through December are attached.  All are available in the classroom and remotely, via distance learning.  If you can’t find what you are looking for, please contact me at kim.may@thefillmoregroup.com.

TFG-Schedule-9.2017-thru-12.2017-3

Tealeaf Fatigue

Posted by Kim May on July 10, 2017 under Authorized Training Partner, DB2 Education, DB2 for Linux Unix Windows, DB2 for z/OS, Global Skills Initiative, IBM Information Management Software Sales, TFG Blog.

I have been reviewing our first half of 2017 and trying to get a handle on where our DB2 world is headed in the second half of this confusing year.  Frankly, I’m baffled!  While the year started on a positive note with IBM’s acknowledgement that they needed to re-engage and support their existing DB2 customers, and the positive trend continued with the announcement of the super-aggressive DB2 pricing available via the Oracle Attack, I still find that at mid-year the good outcomes I expected are failing to materialize.  How come?

In my opinion, one reason is a result of IBM’s “re-invention” of their Business Partner program.  As a long-time IBM Business Partner, our team invests an incredible amount of time and energy maintaining our “Premier Partner” status, primarily through certifications that validate our skills.  When IBM rolled out the new partner program in 2017 their messaging indicated a new focus on highly-skilled, knowledgeable partners.  Unfortunately, in reality, the program modifications boiled down to two new criteria:  1) customer references and 2) meeting high volume IBM software sales targets.  To IBM, these make perfect sense: IBM struggles to get customer references, and with rolling sales staff reductions, IBM needs to beef up their sales partners.

However, the “Give it to Mikey, he’ll eat anything” approach may not be working.  Partners like The Fillmore Group are being marginalized (“Skills?  Who needs ’em?”) by the program, while high volume partners (like HP, oh, oops, not any more) are being funneled territories, “uncovered” customers and leads.

In my opinion, the fallout is likely to be similar to the Global Skills Initiative, IBM’s education program “re-invention” from a few years ago that resulted in far fewer DB2 classes and fewer available training options as the program created a layer of 5 large, competing training partners who function independently and whose lack of coordination splintered the IBM training business.

Is this what IBM is – unintentionally/intentionally? – planning for their partner community?  I don’t know, but it’s unsettling.  One bright note:  the new partner levels were scheduled to go into effect June 30th, but have been pushed back to the end of July.  Perhaps sanity prevails??

My final head scratcher is the annual IOD/Insight/World of Watson/no, not this year conference.  I received an email this morning about the LearnQuest-sponsored Analytics conference scheduled for New Orleans in October.  I’ve also heard about a DB2 Conference being planned for Boston in – October, as well.  On one hand I think any conference and opportunity to network is good.  On the other hand, I am wondering if the conflict is quietly announcing the final split between DB2 for z/OS and DB2 for LUW.

Or I suppose that should be (another brilliant re-invention), Db2 for z/OS and Db2 for LUW…!!

 

The Fillmore Group IBM Analytics Class Schedule – First Half, 2017

Posted by Kim May on December 1, 2016 under Arrow ECS, Authorized Training Partner, BLU Acceleration, DB2 Education, DB2 for Linux Unix Windows, DB2 for z/Linux, DB2 for z/OS, DB2 Gold Consultants, Global Skills Initiative, IBM DB2 Services, IBM Training Services Delivery Partner, Q-Replication, TFG Blog.

Although the Global Skills Initiative hasn’t delivered on its promise IBM continues to schedule and deliver classes with the Global Training Partners.  It’s just more difficult for customers to find classes and register…and then wait for the all-too-frequent “sorry, cancelled” call.

But, as we have been delivering IBM Authorized DB2 and data management tools classes for this long, we’re hanging in.  Why not?  Our classroom sits waiting for students and our consultants who train always look forward to delivering classes.

Our scheduled classes are in the document attached below.  These are the classes we are scheduled to deliver.  Please remember we have access to other courses and curriculum, and can deliver many more courses (along with our regularly scheduled classes) in private sessions at your location, and/or via distance learning.

Please call (443-956-0288) or email me (kim.may@thefillmoregroup.com) if I can help!

1h-2017-the-fillmore-group-classes

IBM Authorized Training – “Using Queue Replication” Starting August 23rd

Posted by Kim May on August 15, 2016 under Arrow ECS, Authorized Training Partner, DB2 Education, DB2 for Linux Unix Windows, DB2 for z/OS, DB2 Gold Consultants, Frank Fillmore, Global Skills Initiative, IBM Champion, Oracle, Q-Replication, TFG Blog.

We have seats available in the “Using Queue Replication” class scheduled to run Tuesday through Friday, August 23-26.  Students may attend class in our Baltimore classroom or via distance learning.  The cost per student is $2680.  The outline and registration are on the Arrow ECS training website here.

If you are one of the many terrific IBM customers who attended Frank’s webinar a few weeks ago, I hope you will register and join us.   The IBM authorized Q Replication training class has not run publicly for 3 years.  It took several weeks to get permission to run this class – one we have delivered successfully many times in the past.  IBM wants to retire it because – surprise – it doesn’t run frequently enough.  !!   Frank will be the instructor for the class and he will include (beyond the course material) an overview of the new Oracle apply.

Please don’t miss the opportunity to take this class.  Organizations rely on replication; if you have never attended a formal Q Replication class, I hope you will consider joining us.  It’s a great product, but it is complex.  I hope I will see you there!

How Succeed with #IBM in 2016 – Ideas???

Posted by Kim May on June 16, 2016 under Authorized Training Partner, DB2 Education, Global Skills Initiative, IBM Information Management Software Sales, IDAA, TFG Blog.

Working for an IBM Business Partner organization is not easy and seems to be getting harder each year. Factor in IBM’s continuing (or accelerating?) decline in sales, and figuring out how to be a successful is really tough.

When I started with The Fillmore Group ten years ago the company had a great reputation for IBM data management training and consulting services. I persuaded Frank Fillmore to add software reselling to the mix assuming, as I was new and coming from the Microsoft world (essentially run by partners), that customers needing technical services and training logically needed to buy something. Also, I had this radical concept drilled into my head while working for Microsoft partners: customers prefer to buy from the organization that can help them be most successful with what they buy.

I’m glad I suggested reselling as over time our other business units’ profitability has shifted. The IBM authorized training business fell into a cycle of declining revenues blamed on post 9/11 travel fears. In 2013 IBM gave up on training and outsourced all public authorized education via the (spin of the century!) Global Skills Initiative. In the three years since the Global Skills Initiative announcement our classroom has never again been used for an IBM public training class.

Delivering consulting services as a subcontractor to IBM Lab Services was, for a long time, a true “win-win” as we provided a variable resource – great consultants – to IBM on an “as-needed” basis, while the IBM business helped support our direct customer business and growing the shared pool of highly skilled consultants. Unfortunately, a 2008 management change at IBM shifted the focus to lower skilled, lower cost resources, and moved our team to the “only call on Christmas Eve” supplier list. Over the course of four years the number of hours our consultants worked for IBM Lab Services dropped by 50% year-over-year until dwindling to less than 200 hours per year over the past 3 years.

As for reselling, ten years after I worked through the paperwork to qualify our team of technical experts to resell IBM software, I still cringe when I hear IBM sales organizations use the terms “incumbent partner” and “fulfillment partner”. This is how IBM describes Business Partner organizations whose understanding of the products they sell is so limited the only reason IBM funnels leads to them (which they do), is that they sold something to someone one time and/or they have the ability to prepare a sales quote with (one hopes) the correct part number.

On the bright side, in 2006 IBM recognized their reseller partners’ typical lack of technical expertise and created a program to try to introduce customers to partners who know more than just part numbers – by offering an incentive to the partners with technical skills outside of the actual purchase transaction.  IBM introduced another layer of compensation for selling IBM solutions, the Software Value Incentive (SVI) program, which enables Business Partners who are not being funneled leads, but who demonstrate that they actually help customers understand and justify their IBM solution purchases, to receive payment for their efforts. Not as much perhaps, as the partner who “got the lead” and became the “fulfillment partner”, but something. The SVI program process is similar in efficiency and simplicity to a NASA rocket launch, but provides enough revenue to justify the effort of engagement and selling (even when you know someone else is getting more!)

In 2014 The Fillmore Group ran a campaign for a solution IBM was struggling to sell – the IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator (IDAA). We love the IDAA and understand its value. We have people who can write training curriculum and present. We do lots of IBM promotion via webinars and outreach. It made sense to combine these; we built a free IDAA class and delivered it in our backyard, Baltimore. We had 18 people attend, including 3 IBM technical reps as “students”. Four of the customer organizations in the class purchased IDAA’s before year end. We didn’t sell any directly to customers as there were other IBM purchasing vehicles in place and incumbent/reseller partners. However, we were awarded SVI for our efforts and made some money.

It was like, “Magoo! You’ve done it again!”

But now, in 2016, the IBM teams are struggling. IBM has cut staff and everyone is worried their sales will continue to fall as the company tries to redirect their focus to cloud solutions. IBM sellers are less apt than ever to “risk” introducing their customers to Business Partners.  The Fillmore Group has scheduled and cancelled two IDAA classes so far this year.  The one lead we were passed by IBM was for a customer who was upset with a grossly inflated quote received from their local IBM team.

What can I do to help The Fillmore Group, my IBM colleagues, and our mutual customers be successful with our solutions in 2016?  Any ideas?  I’d love some feedback.

Kim May Named #IBMChampion @IBMAnalytics for 2016

Posted by Frank Fillmore on May 5, 2016 under #IBMInsight, Baltimore Washington DB2 Users Group, DB2 Education, Global Skills Initiative, IBM Champion, IDAA, TFG Blog. Tags: , .

My colleague, Kim May, Vice President for Business Development of The Fillmore Group, has been named an IBM Champion for 2016.  Kim’s IBM Analytics community outreach includes:

  • blogging at www.thefillmoregroup.com/blog
  • serving as a member of the board of directors of the Baltimore/Washington DB2 Users Group
  • hosting webinars and workshops covering a variety of IBM Analytics topics such as IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator (IDAA) and Cloud Data Services (CDS)
  • advocating for formal training through the IBM Global Skills Initiative
  • and presenting the now-legendary TFG Monday evening soirée at IBM Insight in Las Vegas in October

Kudos to Kim for the well-deserved recognition!

A complete list of the 2016 IBM Champions for Analytics can be found here.

IBM Authorized Training – 2016 Public Class Schedule

Posted by Kim May on November 23, 2015 under Authorized Training Partner, DB2 Education, DB2 for Linux Unix Windows, DB2 for z/OS, Global Skills Initiative, IBM Training Services Delivery Partner, Q-Replication, TFG Blog.

The Fillmore Group’s public class schedule for the first half of 2016 is complete and in the process of being uploaded to the IBM training website at:    www.ibm.com/training.

The schedule is here:   The Fillmore Group Training Schedule First Half 2016

The classes scheduled include DB2 for LUW, DB2 for z/OS, replication (Q Rep and ICDC) and Big Data.   All classes scheduled may be attended in our Towson, Maryland, classroom, or via distance learning.

If you have remaining 2015 training budget and wish to “pre-purchase” 2016 training, please contact me.  Or, if your team would like a private class at your location or via distance learning, please contact me.  I can work with you to customize a class to meet your team’s specific content, scheduling and location requirements.

How to Find TFG’s IBM Analytics Course Schedule

Posted by admin on August 18, 2015 under Arrow ECS, Authorized Training Partner, Big Data, BigInsights, DB2 Education, DB2 for Linux Unix Windows, DB2 for z/OS, Global Skills Initiative, IBM Training Services Delivery Partner, InfoSphere, InfoSphere Streams, Optim, pureScale, Q-Replication, TFG Blog.

One result of the IBM Global Skills Initiative is the complexity around course scheduling and registration as there are now five Global Training Partners managing these processes.

The Fillmore Group is aligned with our software distributor, Arrow ECS, for IBM Analytics training delivery.  Through our relationship with Arrow we deliver public, open enrollment IBM Analytics classes in our Towson, Maryland, classroom, as well as distance learning, remote classes, and private classes.

Finding our classes on the Arrow website can be a challenge, but there are two ways to do this.

#1   Click here for classes scheduled for the next 60 days

This link will take you to the pre-sorted courses scheduled to run at The Fillmore Group in the next 60 days.

#2   Visit the Arrow ECS website and sort courses

If you would like to review the courses delivered by The Fillmore Group in Towson as well as courses delivered by other Arrow affiliated vendors in other locations, follow these instructions:

  1. Click on https://ecsedu.arrow.com/ibm/us
  2. At the top of the screen hover over or pull down “Scheduled and Distance Classes”
  3. Click on “Training schedules”
  4. Select “United States”
  5.  In the list of locations, De-select “All”, then check “Towson”
  6. Select “6 months” for the time period to display
  7. Answer “No” to the “Show Only Guaranteed to Run” question
  8. Select “All” for topics, hardware and software
  9. Click the “See” button to display the classes

You should see a list of classes scheduled displayed like this.  The schedule contains dates and hyperlinks to register for individual sessions.

Arrow webpage

I hope this helps!  If can answer any questions on locating classes or navigating through to fjnd what you need, don’t hesitate to email (kim.may@thefillmoregroup.com) or call (443-956-0288) me.

Training Anyone?

Posted by Kim May on May 14, 2015 under Arrow ECS, Authorized Training Partner, Big Data, BigInsights, BLU Acceleration, Data Studio, DB2 Connect, DB2 Education, DB2 for Linux Unix Windows, DB2 for z/OS, Global Skills Initiative, Hadoop, InfoSphere, Optim, pureScale, Q-Replication, TFG Blog.

The Fillmore Group 2H 2015 Class Schedule

With all the challenges IBM’s move to the Global Skills Initiative (aka outsourcing education) has created for DB2 users, please remember IBM classes do still exist and are available for the patient and persistent.  Fear not!  If you need training, we are prepared to help.

After seeing public training nosedive over the past two years we are now seeing a bit of a resurgence.  Are classes really running?  Well, in all honesty, not often.  However, we are seeing a few run here and there, and when they don’t, with our relationship with Arrow ECS (one of the five Global Training Partners) intact, we are learning to “collect” students interested in training, and either gather them together for classes, or provide private training at affordable rates.

I’ve just submitted our second half of 2015 public training class schedule to Arrow (see the attachment above) and expect to see the classes posted on the IBM training site (IBM.com/training) within the next couple weeks.  I welcome anyone looking for a class – whether it’s on my schedule or not – to contact me at kim.may@thefillmoregroup.com so that I can work some coordination magic for you.

Can We Reverse This Trend?

Posted by admin on April 24, 2015 under Authorized Training Partner, Baltimore Washington DB2 Users Group, DB2 Education, DB2 for z/OS, DB2 Migrations, Global Skills Initiative, IBM DB2 Services, IDAA, TFG Blog.

Just this week, while working to support a new customer consulting requirement, collaborating with IBM on a handful of IDAA sales opportunities, and following up on a Baltimore/Washington DB2 User Group initiative I ran into varying responses based on one similar theme:  customers are losing confidence in the long-term viability of the mainframe.

My consulting customer is looking for a skilled resources to support a DB2 for z/OS environment.  Due to the “downward pressure on rates” they want the hourly rate to be 20-25% less than they paid for a similar resource in 2012.  Of course, they tell me, they will accept someone with fewer years of experience – 3 to 5, rather than 5 to 10.  Where does one find a US citizen (a requirement) with 3 to 5 years of DB2 for z/OS experience?  With the Global Skills Initiative IBM education has dropped off dramatically.   The IBM Academic Initiative seems to have proven successful for one financial institution in the Southeast (but for no one else), and the skills shortage we’ve all been hearing about for years is being compounded by the drumbeat of Procurement teams requiring cheaper and cheaper personnel.

Our strategy sessions around IDAA prospects invariably begin with someone saying, “well, you know, XYZ Company is planning to be off the mainframe by 2017.”  Or some other year…but it’s always part of the discussion.  Apparently while people with moderate arithmetic skills can demonstrate the overall cost savings of System z, the “modernization” folks are beating us up with their messaging.  It’s tough to address the TCO challenge when the second question is, “and who will do the work?”

My local RUG agreed to sponsor college students at our meetings so that we can try to get some future graduates interested in the mainframe.  Baltimore, where I live, has many colleges and universities but thus far, in spite of my outreach, I’ve only gotten a response from one school willing to tell their students about our offer.  I can’t help but wonder if the career counselling centers haven’t been told to avoid the mainframe, too.

I am frustrated.