It’s one thing to be a mainframe software company, it’s another to be the best mainframe partner for the next 50 years. This demands continuously producing innovative solutions customers love in response to their most urgent needs.

Unfortunately, it seems the largest mainframe software vendors have abandoned this behavior and are instead focused on collecting price increases on top of upgrade and maintenance fees from their cash-cow products, and then spending those profits on non-mainframe innovation and marketing spin to cover up their mainframe product neglect.

So, what do we think it takes to be the best mainframe partner for the next 50 years?

Innovative Ideas

Ideas are the seeds of innovation that grow and materialize into market-changing functionality for customer success. To be the best mainframe partner for the next 50 years means having the determination and ingenuity to develop new, creative ideas for products and services that customers want. That means continuous collaboration and brainstorming with customers, and internal product management discipline to properly fashion and prioritize those ideas into deliverables that will make a difference.

The antithesis is neglecting the process of ideation and falling into a suspended state of apathy, eventually stabilizing and/or divesting products that haven’t seen new approaches in years and struggling to even maintain currency for those that stay.

Disciplined Processes

With the rapid and pervasive digital transformation of our world, mainframe software vendors should consider it essential to be Agile and embrace DevOps. To be the best mainframe company for the next 50 years requires iterative development, failing fast and continuously improving the development process and its outcomes.

Unfortunately, many mainframe software vendors claim to operate with Agile and DevOps methodologies, but their release frequency tells a far different story reflecting a slow, outdated waterfall development process. Doing development this way causes products to fall further and further behind in meeting customers’ essential digital requirements.

High-Throughput Tools

Turning innovative ideas into modern deliverables for mainframe customers requires more than improved development processes. To operate within those processes requires modern mainframe development tools that integrate with non-mainframe tools and function across platforms, thereby enabling a mainframe-inclusive DevOps toolchain and bringing the mainframe into the Agile/DevOps fold.

Inspired, Customer-Focused Culture

Sustaining an inspired, customer-focused culture is what motivates teams across a company to continuously discover worthy ideas to improve. Keeping core DevOps staffs co-located, where collaboration, communication and learning thrive, breeds that innovation. A customer focus makes the work meaningful and the benefits of the products palpable, knowing the functionality is customer-feedback driven and built for specific use cases.

A culture where teams are siloed, focused on laurels or uninspired prevents mainframe software vendors from producing innovative, elegant solutions that customers expect. To have an uninspired, self-focused culture is to sap the benefits of ideas, processes and tools needed to be the best mainframe partner for the next 50 years.

Without continuously improving these things day in and day out, mainframe software vendors can’t honestly tell you they’re the best mainframe partner for the next 50 years. Proof is in the frequency, quality and value of the innovation they release, and how well that functionality aligns with the most pressing needs customers have.

If enterprises want to succeed in the digital age, they must collaborate with mainframe software vendors that are equally committed to changing their approach to ideas, processes and tools. Are you working with the best mainframe partner for the next 50 years or a mainframe software pretender with a penchant for price increases and locking customers into the past?

Photo: Jason Heien