Many times I have been asked by IBM customers to pass along a request for new features to the IBM product management team. Which I did. Some of those features got implemented, and some are still on the To Do list with relatively low priority, which means the implementation time frame for these low priority features is not defined yet. And chances are they will never be done, unless…
For the better part of last week I participated in a joint planning effort where leaders of the development team, product management, sales and marketing came together to brainstorm the future of the WebSphere Application Server. This is a regular event that usually takes place in Raleigh, NC (last week was no exception). I represented the sales and technical sales community and hopefully did not cause too much trouble :-), but it was a very fun thing to do.
The thing that really impressed me was the fact that the final voting process for new features started with looking at feature requests submitted by and voted upon by IBM customers. If you think that there is this secret database for Fortune 100 companies to submit requests to IBM you are wrong. This database is called IBM Request for Enhancement (RFE) database and any IBM customer or IBMer can:
- submit feature requests for any IBM product in a matter of 3 minutes
(by the way – this covers all software and hardware, including my favorites WMQ, WAS, IPAS, IIB, etc.)
- search and view existing feature requests
- vote for existing feature requests
- subscribe to RFE updates (meaning you will get notified when your favorite RFE changes its status)
Here is what happens next:
- Before the strategy planning meeting (like the one we had last week) product management folks scrub the database and validate requests for a product of interest (to make sure the requests come from legitimate sources and is not some kind of BS)
- Then requests are sorted by the number of customer votes (there is special consideration given for votes from different companies vs. votes from the same company)
- The final sorted list of requests is discussed and voted upon – before any other requests or ideas from other sources
What this really means is that customer submitted and voted RFEs get the highest priority when planning the product and if you are one of those customers – you have a LOT of influence on what is going to happen with the next few versions of your favorite product.
What are you waiting for? Go ahead and take a look at the RFEs for your product of interest, vote and submit new RFEs to help IBM deliver better products to you – our customer.
PS. I am not sure what is going to happen if there was a request for free beer and it was voted by 1,000 companies?