Winning isn’t everything – but wanting to win right now is!

Micro Focus Marketing Operations Director Mark Plant reflects on making the final cut in the #MME14 Eloqua Markies awards – Best Social Campaign @MicroFocus @Mainframe50

In a galaxy far far away and almost 3 years ago….

It seems like only yesterday that we nervously clicked ‘Activate’ on our 1st ever Eloqua campaign flow. It was a Corporate newsletter – who’s name I actually cannot mention – and we watched expectantly – waiting to see something. We saw nothing hugely exciting so we raced to Eloqua insight and delighted in the fact that the send stats were rising – but hold on a second:

  • Why haven’t all of our customers opened our email immediately?
  • What are soft bounces actually?
  • ……….and how do these dashboards actually work again?

That was then

Our Eloqua account manager called prior to the 2013 Eloqua Experience (where I was speaking) to ask whether we’d entered any Markies.

‘Urmmm no I mean why would we do that – we’ve only really started recently in Eloqua terms and I mean urmmm – we’re too busy right now’ was along the lines of my response.

I pretty much instantly regretted it.


I would have loved to enter – the Markies are something! I read about them on people’s resumes and CVs and LinkedIn profiles. For the Marketing Automation crowd – Markies are a BIG deal. Plus I am a competitive kinda person – not overly so – but competition is something I greatly enjoy.

This is now

We did take the plunge this year (encouraged by our new and very digitally focused CMO Chris Livesey). We worked together – a team in unison (wow right!) – Micro Focus and Borland marketing operations, programs and the field teams united in nominations.

And you know what? It did us all a lot of good. We took stock, looked back, laughed a lot and took a big gulp of collective pride in our accomplishments.  This process actually felt really good. We submitted the campaigns and things we felt proudest of – we ignored the categories we didn’t feel all that strong in (a great goal setting indicator for next years’ personal development plans.) The Markies were being discussed with a buzz and in team calls – but was anything we’d done actually good enough?

The email

Customer Marketing Manager for Oracle Marketing Cloud, MBA, skee-baller, craft beer enthusiast, music fanatic, Austinite (according to Twitter *- ) Ann Davis sent us an amazing email – amazingest bits highlighted as follows:


The Campaign that made the grade

Micro Focus has been building complementary products for IBM platforms for more than three decades. Our current range of application development products enable mainframe owners to efficiently build and deliver core zEnterprise systems so we celebrated the 50th Birthday of the IBM Mainframe is some style. With it’s very own @Mainframe50 twitter account, blog posts, time machines and even a cake or two! We conservatively estimate (using analytics) that by the time our submission had hit the judges desk – we’d more than helped #Mainframe50 on it’s way towards 100,000 impressions on Twitter alone! Because it’s social in nature you can see it all out there – go have fun with google and Twitter and #Mainframe50!



We generated buzz that hit the headlines too:Mainframe50press

The Now

Well – it’s hugely rewarding to have made the shortlist for starters! We’re out there as a whole corporate team (sales, development, marketing, field folks, corporate folks etc.) on twitter – follow hashtag #MME14 for proof – we’re all extremely proud.

We can collectively reflect on what made this campaign and execution ‘stand-out’ enough to have made the grade, a real and practical way to improve future campaigns and outreach. As a competitive guy all I can say is good luck to the other finalists and re-iterate the blog title: winning isn’t everything – but wanting to win is! I’ll see you all there and look forward to meeting with you all.

And if you haven’t registered for #MME14 yet follow me on Twitter to find out how you can get a discount on your entrance fee if you still need a ticket! Seeya there.

COBOL and Micro Focus – investment that pays dividends

Every year, Micro Focus commits huge sums to R&D work. Derek Britton takes a look at what happens to these ‘invisible investments’ – and how they benefit our customers…

It’s strange that even as major car marques like Ferrari and Jaguar are investing in innovative, modern designs and features for new models, they are simultaneously supplying a huge catalogue of spares for models discontinued many decades previously.

But why? Simple: because people like and trust proven technology that keeps delivering. Many of these GT40s, Testarossas and E-Types remain in daily use, serving thousands of dedicated motorists who are happy to support a ‘legacy’ purchase with continued investment. The drivers appreciate reliability and quality and manufacturers recognise the value in ongoing support for a core product.

We are no different. If you read our previous blog about the ‘hidden cost’ of free software you will understand that while Micro Focus is not in the business of fuelling the growing ‘false economy’ market, we’re happy to help disaffected customers looking for real value. That is why we focus our energies, innovation and R&D budgets on proven technology. And that’s what this blog is all about –how we improve and evolve our technology through continued investment.

Figure it out

In our annual report you’ll see that Micro Focus invests nearly $55M in R&D and the majority of that budget is in Micro Focus’ COBOL and mainframe solutions. Year after year, Micro Focus continually commits more R&D investment to COBOL than anyone else in the software industry. But why?

COBOL is now in its sixth decade – older, even, than the E-type Jaguar – and in an industry apparently obsessed with the Next Big Thing, that can only be bad news. But that would be to underestimate the quality of the product and its residual value to the people who matter most – our customers. For drivers, read IT Managers, CIOs – and anyone who depends on a so-called legacy application to underpin day-to-day business functions.

annualreportIt has always been this way. In 1976, the Micro Focus founders built a company based on providing a COBOL environment on microprocessors. Since that year, no-one has invested more in COBOL support across a broad set of vendor problems. And this commitment continues today with our R&D acting as a production line for the innovations and updates that keep COBOL not just relevant, but future-proof.

Built to last

Application code, like classic cars, must be great to use and easy to work on, because both are only as good as the people who will maintain them in the future: inevitably, more time will be spent on maintenance and enhancement than the original implementation.

Business application developers enjoy working with COBOL, the closest language to conventional English prose out there, the go-to language of hundreds of thousands of developers.

Because COBOL is a flexible, free-format language with no formal format or structure, programmers can impose their own and Micro Focus has stuck with COBOL through its many ISO and ANSI standards. By the 1970s, when the ANSI74 COBOL standard was agreed, COBOL had become the most widely-used programming language in the world.

We’ve kept across the dialects, with the latest version of Visual COBOL covering 25 dialects, including BM OS/VS COBOL, IBM OS/VS COBOL II, IBM COBOL/400, IBM Enterprise COBOL, AcuCobol-GT, RM/COBOL, Bull GCOS, HP Tandem, COBOL-IT and of course, Micro Focus COBOL.

If you’ve worked with COBOL for as long as we have, then you will have extensive business logic built into your applications. This is where your unique and irreplaceable competitive advantage lives. Maximizing this investment and market opportunity depends on being able to use these applications in new environments for decades to come.

With the introduction of Visual COBOL, Micro Focus raised the bar for the next generation of COBOL development and deployment. Built on a rich heritage of continuous innovation, Visual COBOL combines the residual build quality of COBOL with modern IDE productivity.

Visual COBOL is where key business-critical COBOL applications can be deployed to Windows, Unix, Linux, .NET, JVM and the cloud – and where our R&D dollars pay off for our customers. It is these investments in time and testing that help to deliver innovative technology that enables our customers to modernize their core IT systems and access high-quality services.

Pick a platform. Any platform.

Platform portability is key to the ongoing success of our customers’ applications, so we execute thousands of test cases across every supported operating system and processor combination. So you know that wherever your application is deployed it will work.

With more than 50 platforms currently supported, and continuing investment from Micro Focus embracing new platforms such as RHEL, Windows 8 and Azure, the story continues. This is on top of the 500 platforms we have supported over the years.

And this remains an ongoing commitment. The latest versions of Eclipse and Visual Studio are the result of our working directly with Eclipse and Microsoft on new releases. One application modernization partner even demonstrated Visual COBOL integration with Google Glass at a recent Developer Day show. But if that isn’t what you need, then there is another way…

Support contracts are like having a direct line into our development studio. As well as helping to ensure ongoing support for the product – and the next wave of enhancements – customers on the higher support levels can request the specific enhancements and additional facilities they need. It is a winning system – every year Micro Focus adds dozens of product enhancements that meet customer needs, satisfy specific demands and answer the questions the market is asking.

Our pioneering pedigree is very strong. Consider the history of pioneering innovation from Micro Focus – the first COBOL compiler for ‘microprocessors’, the first COBOL visual debugger, the first Windows-based product and the first 32- and 64-bit products. We were also the first to market with mainframe CICS emulation, and, later object-oriented COBOL. Recent innovations around IDE support, managed code, mobile, cloud are just the latest in a long line of pioneering innovations from Micro Focus. These things don’t create themselves. For us, innovation is a mix of inspiration and investment.

Conclusion: building on success

While the ‘classic car’ analogy is sound, and makes the point about residual value – and the logic in supporting older technology – very well, in truth COBOL has left the Ferrari GT40 in its slipstream.

Because from the moment it leaves the production line, the car is forever frozen in time. It is as good as it can ever be. But COBOL has continued to evolve, supported by millions of Micro Focus R&D dollars, into a contemporary and future-proof asset that will continue to be refined and improved as the market demands.

COBOL has five key touchpoints that continue to resonate today.

• Portability
• Fitness for purpose
• Readability
• Heritage
• Future-proofing

Micro Focus continues to build on these core values and support the COBOL solution – Visual COBOL, ACU-COBOL, RM/COBOL, Net Express and Server Express – with the investment needed to ensure our customers continue to drive forward on the journey to future success.



Regulation Acceleration

Regulation and Compliance shouldn’t be big news – after all, the IT world has had to conform to rules and regulations for years. Yet it seems every day there’s bad publicity and a hefty fine for yet another major corporation facing a non-compliance ruling. This blog looks again at the challenge that just won’t go away – and asks what we can learn.

I have spoken before about regulatory compliance and the necessity for IT to look to make systematic improvements to how it supports a variety of compliance and regulatory changes. It seems that in 2014 there are no signs of things getting any easier. Let’s take a look of the state of regulation today.

Here is a sample of publicity in the recent months:

The usual suspects

The biggest single cluster of regulatory news affects the financial services industry. Adversely affected by the global economic downturn, financial services organizations have since been the target of stringent new regulatory controls. Unsurprisingly perhaps, news abounds across a variety of “non-compliance” issues in the industry.

In a case of internal compliance, Credit Suisse were recently reported as investigating two of its own dealers for trading rule transgressions. A broader industry issue especially in the UK has been PPI mis-selling. Recently, the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) probe has prompted 2.5 million PPI cases to be reopened. The impact of PPI regulatory measures was reported as a cause of Lloyds’ Bank profit fall.

Meanwhile, other regulations were contravened in high-profile cases. Deutsche Bank was fined over fiscal reporting, while the Royal Bank of Scotland’s mortgage advice irregularities resulted in a fine of £14.5M ($23.7M). Elsewhere, the LIBOR rigging scandal has hit Lloyds to the tune of £218M ($356M), meanwhile Bank of Scotland’s “double-billing” scandal was cited in the lawcourts as “unconscionable” whilst the FCA continues to investigate them.

In terms of notoriety, however, spare a thought for Citi Group – its part in the financial meltdown has resulted in an astonishing $7Bn penalty, as reported in a press release.

Newspaper Headlines

The verdict by industry observers is understandably blunt. Trust in Banks is still “years away”, according to the chairman of the UK Treasury Committee, Andrew Tyrie. Meanwhile in some cases, jittery Fund managers are deserting banking stocks. And there’s no sign of things easing up – regulators are getting more stringent in their measures, while the recent SEPA regulation is being closely followed by an equally exacting new control, FATCA – the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, set to go live in 2015.

Not just financial services

Regulatory compliance, and failure thereof, is by no means the exclusive remit of the financial services industry. Electronics giants Philips, Samsung and Infineon were subject to a total of 138m-euro fine over pricing irregularities. Telecoms giant Verizon was fined $7.4M over consumer clarity complaints, while Energy supplier EDF was ordered to pay £3M ($4.9) to support vulnerable customers after failing to manage complaints.

It’s no secret

Data privacy regulations are a hot topic, and most news reported on the topic is bad news for the brands in question. High profile stories surround data privacy breaches have recently hit the headlines at Home Depot, Supervalu and UPS. However the press saved the most column inches for the unfolding Community Health Systems saga, where the data hack is reported to have affected 4.5 million customers.

Emerging from the shadows

What do all these stories have in common? The attribute that links them is that each story has been reported in the last few months. So, a commonplace, recurring theme suggesting a recurring challenge across a variety of industries.

The cost of non-compliance in individual cases might mean specific and often eye-watering fines, while the longer-term operational impact on a variety of industries, not least the financial services sector is untold risk and potentially irreparable brand damage. Coping with this is being taken very seriously – industry publication Banking Technology reports a Bank of England estimate that 70,000 new finance roles will be created in Europe alone to help tackle increasing compliance workload.


But headcount is not the only requirement. Throwing more staff at a problem where the processes and supporting technology is outmoded and inefficient is simply more chefs in a tiny kitchen.

Technology needs to be part of the solution.

And it can be. Micro Focus’ approach to IT regulation sees the challenge as a three-pronged issue – find the root of non-compliance, fix the issue, and then validate the change. We refer to this as Find It, Fix It, Test It. This approach leverages the best in technology to help automate and streamline these critical IT change projects, which all too often have unmovable, aggressive timescales. If you need to accelerate your regulatory efforts, we can help.