Five Steps for Proving the Value of the Mainframe

By Dan O’Brien

IBM z13

No one has to tell you that the mainframe is still a critical driver of business progress, despite the misleading rumors of its demise over the past couple of decades. Indeed, a recent Compuware survey showed that 78 percent of enterprise CIOs believe the mainframe is a key enabler of innovation, while nearly 90 percent think the mainframe will be a key business asset through the next 10 years.

But the non-IT decision makers in your company might not be so savvy to those realities. Rumors have a funny way of sounding like fact to someone who has a lot of money riding on a technology and not a lot of knowledge of how it actually works. As the mainframe skills gap looms, companies will need to invest more in education in order to continue reaping the full value of their asset. 

So how do you translate the mainframe's crucial value to a lay audience? Information Age recently outlined a roadmap for showcasing the mainframe's importance to your company's bottom line.

1. Show, don't tell.

Business leaders love data. Speak in their language by presenting usage statistics that show where the mainframe is being deployed effectively and where it can help your company function even more efficiently. The more facets of your business it touches, the faster your C-suite will see a return on the company's investment. Which leads to…

2. Increase adoption.

By identifying where mainframe technology isn't being used to its potential, you can address those gaps, which will in turn make the platform an even more valuable part of your business. If those gaps have to do with training, you've just built your case for why the company needs to invest more in educating newer employees in how to fully exploit the technology.

3. Discover the super-users.

Those usage statistics will also tell you which employees use mainframe technologies the most. Those staff members can then be pulled in as leaders in training and mentoring programs that boost adoption in younger employees. It's a win-win from the C-suite's eyes: an in-house professional development opportunity for both the trainers (who get to dip a toe in a leadership role) and the trainees (who benefit from the deep institutional knowledge).  

  1. Cut the fat.

While usage statistics, for the most part, will demonstrate how your company just can't live without the mainframe, in some cases, they'll also illuminate redundancies and inefficiencies among the tools you use on it. But this, too, can be a positive: It will show leadership that you're proactively identifying places where you can cut costs and streamline the business.

4. Get involved with SHARE.

OK, maybe Information Age didn't mention this one. But participating in SHARE's community of enterprise IT professionals is one of the best ways to stay abreast of the knowledge and trends that will allow your organization to use its mainframe to its fullest potential. It's not too early to book your place at SHARE in San Antonio, where more than 1,000 mainframers will connect Feb. 28-March 4, 2016. There's no greater worth to the C-suite, after all, than informed, enthusiastic professionals that know exactly how to make the most of their business' core technology.

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