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Highlights—November 15, 2014

  • Bloomberg:

    IBM Won’t Give Exact EPS Goal After Ditching Forecast. By Alex Barinka. Excerpts: Chief Financial Officer Martin Schroeter said IBM is unlikely to put in place another “absolute” earnings-per-share roadmap. He said there’s still value in laying out the complex company’s strategy for investors. ...

    Last month, IBM Chief Executive Officer Ginni Rometty tossed out the company’s goal to reach $20 a share in adjusted earnings by 2015 after sales dropped for a 10th straight quarter and demand for servers and other hardware dwindled. Rometty, who took over in 2012, had been trying to transform IBM while adhering to the five-year profit forecast laid out by her predecessor, Sam Palmisano. ...

    IBM is trying to streamline itself to improve speed and agility, Rometty said in a memo to workers last month. The company has fired and furloughed employees, taking more than $1 billion in workforce restructuring charges this year. IBM has said it plans to cut more jobs, resulting in a fourth-quarter charge of as much as $600 million.

    Selected reader comments from LinkedIn's IBM Official Alumni Group: The Greater IBM Connection follow:

    • IBM is not leading anymore! It is not providing clear direction to its customers in any area. If you look at its acquisitions, it is not buying leading edge technology companies. The only really innovative product line is Watson, but it seems that they have marginalized Watson to huge government and commercial organizations that invest millions into the technology.

      IBM from a software acquisition standpoint mirror's Computer Associates strategies these days buying install base and milking annual maintenance revenue. IBM has even backed off on innovation in consulting which was their key lead into today's customers. The consultants no longer control the accounts, but provide instead piece meal technical services. Look at recent major competitive bidding for consulting services in the public sector. IBM gets beaten regularly!

      IBM has the money and the resources to turn around, but it needs a new CEO with a clear direction from the board.

    • IBM can not continue to treat its hard working employees the way it has for the last 5 to 10 years and expect to stay on top...it's time they had a taste of their own medicine.
    • John John Thomas UX Consultant at !Problem Solving International There are lots of pieces to the puzzle of why a company in such a dominant position with such great talent and which once had such a great corporate culture can be on the brink...again. One important issue is overall corporate strategy. Does IBM want to be the low cost provider, the high-touch customer focused company or the high-tech leader? Due, essentially to greed, IBM tried to keep a high tech, high touch image, and keep prices high while cutting research and services. That can work to increase profit margins but only for a while.

      Another underlying issue is the over-reliance on numbers. I am a scientist and believe in the importance of numbers and have developed new ways to quantify. So I am certainly not against quantifying when appropriate. The problem comes in looking at complex things and only being able to measure some aspects and then *imagining* or *pretending* that nothing but what you have measured is important or even exists. One way this has manifested is in the decision to acquire rather than grow organically.

      When a company invests in the skills and technology internally, there are many side benefits compared with acquisition but these tend to be hard to measure compared with the existing customer base of new acquisitions. Of course, there are all sorts of shady assumptions involved when calculating what the new acquisition will really mean for IBM sales, but acquisitions are frankly a "sexy" thing for executives to be involved in as opposed to growing a business organically.

      Despite this and many other issues, there are still a large number of highly talented people in IBM and I think it would be premature to say they are going out of business at this point. The issues are all still soluble if they are addressed quickly and honestly.

    • It's informative to read Alibaba's Chairman Jack Ma's philosophy about his business imperatives:
      • #1 customers
      • #2 employees
      • #3 shareholders.

      IBM's philosophy is quite different:

      • #1 Executive compensation
      • #2 EPS
      • #3 Shareholders
      • #4 Customers
      • #5 Employees, maybe.

      Until IBM shareholders wake up to the money trap their funds are wrapped up and force changes at the top of IBM, we can expect to see EPS guidance lowered and FCF drying up every quarter.

      I wouldn't have used DEC or Compaq as comparative businesses. I would have used Radio Shack that did much the same thing IBM has done, borrowed funds to buyback shares until the FCF dried up completely and they couldn't borrow further funds.

      I hope that IBM have the grace to look back at other businesses that have pursued ever grandiose EPS guidance.

    • I think this analysis is right on the mark. Unless Rometty and company make some radical changes and lead IBM into the present and future, it is on a doomsday path! Oh it will take some time before it reaches the point where it can be acquired or forced to shutdown, but it is headed rapidly down that road.

      What products is IBM leading the market with today? Where is its innovation? Where is its revenue growth? IBM made some progress in cloud, but compared to Amazon and other major cloud providers, is irrelevant. IBM is losing ground in consulting, and hardware is a joke. They keep selling off manufacturing operations because they are not competitive!

      IBM keeps acquiring companies, but would someone name one new innovative product that they have introduced in the past 5 years and how well is it doing?

      Sorry to be a naysayer here, but unless someone in the boardroom steps up and makes some changes the great blue lady is headed for some very hard times ahead. Look at the comments of the market analysts and professional investors!

    • I just think the time has come to remove the leadership in all brands up and down the org chart. Let them go the way of the hundreds of thousands they themselves sacrificed for short term gains. That is the last part of the house that needs cleaning. That is my only point.
    • A-ha ... the "nay sayers" are at it again. For those of us that have lived through the demise of T J Watson Sr, the wage freezes in the 70s, the unloading of divisions, and all the trials and tribulations of the decision to execute the first "lay offs" (maybe called early retirements) in the company history this is just another bump in the road. In my 30 years with IBM, and another 30 in the general IT industry, the company has changed philosophy (from family based to a profit margin based company) but is still a leader and still strong as a major player in the industry. Being knocked down does not count, getting back up counts.
    • Management does see the issues with hardware and is moving away from it, but IBM was a major leader in consulting and is now losing market share to others. IBM has put its toe in the cloud business but has laughable results compared to Amazon or other well established cloud vendors. Watson was mentioned which could be huge, but has not materialized any significant revenue gains.

      Back in its heyday, IBM was noted every bit as much as a sales and marketing company selling and promoting its products as much as it was a technology company, in fact maybe it was more of a sales and marketing company than anything else. Today after Gerstner who put a quick patch on a hemorrhage there is no sales organization left, and the folks in marketing are promoted from various areas but are hardly professional marketing people.

      IBM has lost its biggest edge, namely control of a huge population of customers. The Business Partner model has never worked and is killing them today! Furthermore, IBM is not clearly delivering a sales message to its partners or backing up its positions with incentives.

    • If there is none thing that has come out of various scenario's discussed in this group. IBM have compromised some of the principles that made it great. Pam has touched on one of them—respect for the individual—that was drummed into us; and, if you ever overstepped that was just not tolerated. Now people seem to be numbers and not treasured skilled human beings.
    • Respect for the Individual—what I saw was a change in the role of HR. They went from an employee advocate function to a management policy (directive) enforcer. And this was not just IBM; it was across the Fortune 500. Where did that switch come from?
    • Hi Folks, what has struck me about this debate—just by looking at the photographs. We don't seem to have too many younger contributors. Where have all the young ones gone or can't IBM attract those anymore? The youngest from Photo's seems to be Srinivasan & John Baltz—unless those are very old photos? Just thought I'll add a bit off humour.
    • The shift over the past 10 years has been astounding. The facts are very simple. They just don't care. In this day and age you are just a number. Respect, cameradeie etc, goodbye forever. It's all about profit, you know. I know there is more to business than just profit. IBM needs to work that out. Also we have had a generation change or two since the glory days of IBM. The new breed of busness persons' values are very different indeed. I see this every day. John, I believe we need to look for the shift to be a values thing. What matter way back then, sadly to say counts for nothing today.
    • The IBM that I knew and loved was a company that solved customer problems. It was about solutions and not necessarily technology.
    • I don't think IBM is getting the best and brighest from the likes of RPI, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Stanford, and the like. I know my colleagues' children do not have IBM on their radar. IBM needs to fix that.
  • Reuters:

    Iusacell's $2.5 billion suit against IBM on hold due to arbitration. By Nate Raymond. Excerpts: A U.S. judge on Friday put on hold a $2.5 billion lawsuit by Mexican mobile phone operator Iusacell SA de CV accusing IBM Corp of fraudulent misrepresentations, citing a pending arbitration launched by the U.S. technology giant.

    U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in New York granted IBM's bid to stay the lawsuit as it involved issues central to an arbitration pending before the International Chamber of Commerce.

  • Poughkeepsie Journal:

    GlobalFoundries: High expectations for E. Fishkill plant. By Craig Wolf. Excerpts: The future of the East Fishkill chip plant owned by IBM Corp. and to be sold to GlobalFoundries is one that the new owners believe will be profitable for years to come.

    And the same goes for the plant in Burlington, Vt., which is also part of the deal in which IBM will sell its chip-making business to GlobalFoundries sometime in 2015.

    That's a good sign for the several thousand people who make a living from the Dutchess County plant, and the area's economy, which benefits from its payroll and spending. Burlington's facility also has a major impact on the Vermont economy.

  • Harvard Business Review:

    Why IBM Gives Top Employees a Month to Do Service Abroad. By Rachael Chong Melissa Fleming. Excerpts: “Eight out of 10 participants in the Corporate Service Corps program say it significantly increases the likelihood of them completing their career at IBM,” Stanley Litow, VP of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, told us.

    Recognizing that corporate responsibility can offer a company a competitive advantage today, we became interested in IBM as a pioneer in establishing a skills-based volunteerism initiative that also influences its talent and professional development strategies. Several executives at the company offered to talk with us to figure out why the program has been so successful—not just as a philanthropic gesture, but as a talent development system. As Litow put it, “If participation in these programs increases our retention rate, recruits top talent, and builds skills in our workforce, then it’s addressing the critical issue of competitiveness.”

  • IT News (Australia):

    Qantas moves ERP out of IBM and into MacTel. By Allie Coyne. Excerpts: Qantas has moved its core Oracle-based ERP platform out of IBM's Sydney data centre in favour of a new software-as-a-service model hosted by Macquarie Telecom, as part of its push to cut $2 billion out of its costs in three years.

    IBM - Qantas’ key data centre partner since 2004 - had hosted the airline’s Oracle E-Business Suite R11 platform out of its Sydney data centre, with Tata Consultancy Services providing application support, until May this year. ...

    IBM has two remaining contracts with Qantas: a seven-year, $200 million contract for project delivery, signed in 2009; and its data centre deal - which also includes mainframe and mid-range computing, and which will expire in 2017.

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • “Quite weird that it has not yet crashed and shut down”

      Former Employee—Anonymous Employee I worked at IBM full-time (more than 3 years).

      Pros: Working from home on Fridays (and sometimes other days as well). Looks good on CV (although I have a very strong feeling that may be short lived).

      Cons: No strategy at all—if the market has a tool called Outlook, they build a replica called Lotus Notes. If the market has Google Analytics, they build TeaLeaf. They somehow always build tools that were around 5 years ago rather than tools to solve a current problem.

      There is a lot of hype about small achievements. In fact some of the hype I would be ashamed to associate with. Example is an innovation award for someone who made the timesheet tool work on mobile. I can't believe they would win an innovation award in 2014. If it was 2004, I would have happily applauded.

      IBM is a time bomb waiting to explode. Thankfully I got out before there were 400K people out there searching for jobs.

      Advice: You need to make it a policy that no person from within IBM is allowed to be CEO. They simply cannot have leadership skills due to the work culture where you need to be scared all the time to succeed in IBM.

      Currently there is this fear in all employees that managers try to instill which not only demotivates people, but makes them feel like they should not be proud of doing a good job and the only thing that matters is politics.

      There are still some people who are very good at what they do, although that is becoming increasingly rare within this company as demonstrated by the number of accounts failing and customers pulling out due to poor quality of work. Message to IBM—if you use the good people wisely, you still have a very very small chance of surviving the next 10 years.

      Work/life balance depends on the account you are in. Most programmes are on the brink of being pulled out of IBM and its very difficult to be part of these dying programmes. For the first time, I know what it is like to slowly start dying. Quite depressing.

      More and more people are calling up helplines for depression and the environment is slowly becoming quite unbearable for most people.

      The whole company is a mistake. It should not have been given an opportunity to succeed and then create this black hole of extremely political and incompetent people (who keep patting each other on the back and calling each other 'great people' for some reason)

    • “Major disconnect between Executives and below”

      Current Employee—Software Engineer in San Jose, CA. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros:

      • State of the art technology, new products (well not IBM new, but acquired new), and very intelligent colleagues.
      • Flexible working hours
      • Multiple locations to work from around the world.

      Cons:

      • Major disconnect between the management level and below.
      • Something happens when a person is promoted to the management level. The intelligence that was there before they became a manager somehow disappears.
      • Unrealistic expectations for an already thin workforce.
      • No respect for the current overworked, over-whelmed, under paid, over stressed workers.
      • All about shareholder price
      • No real attention to quality, just about making the "numbers" look good so we can ship
      • Employees are considered just a 'plug and play' resource.

      Advice: Build in time to allow training on the new technologies instead of just saying "Ooh shiny, this is state of the art and we should use it. Implement it tomorrow!" Stop using a "bell curve" to rank and rate folks. With a thin workforce everybody is usually going above and beyond what is expected. At least in my group we are all at the top 5%.

    • “Downward spiral”

      Former Employee—Senior IT Architect. I worked at IBM full-time (more than 3 years).

      Pros: Many opportunities to gain experience in a variety of roles worldwide. One of the best training programs in the industry. Some of the most incredible technical professionals that I've ever worked with.

      Cons: Executive management is entrenched and focused on financial gimmicks to improve/support the bottom line, while bleeding and flogging of the senior management, mid-management and employee ranks who, as a result, have lost the needed morale to grow revenues.

      While top contributors are seeing measly raises and bonuses, many in the employee ranks are worried about getting laid off prior to Dec 15 losing their entire 401k match for the year. Standout employees are leaving in droves, rapidly shifting the employee mix to those that are just shy of retirement and others that are complacent with little to no drive to innovate.

      Advice: Find a new CEO. Focus on top line growth. Stop using revenue misses as an excuse to down shift employee reviews...it is incredibly demoralizing.

    • “Worked for over 10 years with IBM.”

      Current Employee—Advisory Software Engineer in Littleton, MA. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros: Ability to work from home. Flexible work environment. Reasonably good benefits.

      Cons:

      • Stacked rankings. Every group needs a poor performing individual. After several years of constant layoffs with bare bones operations it is just a matter of time till your number is up.
      • No raises or bonuses. Those went out years ago.
      • 401k matching is at the end of the year. If you have not been terminated by Dec 15th you will get the matching amount.
      • Morale is horrible.
      • The constant threat of termination is debilitating.
    • “Would not apply for this job again”

      Current Employee—Sales Specialist. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 8 years).

      Pros: There are a lot of nice people at the individual contributor level, and if you are lucky you will get the rare "professional and fair manager" to work for. The IBM logo is good to have on your resume.

      Cons: In sales, IBM is capping many commissions and, in some instances, creatively avoiding them altogether. Technical positions are seeing salary reductions.

      Advice: Value the customers and the customer-facing employees, and the value to the shareholder will follow. By emphasizing the shareholder exclusively with the stock buy backs, the resource actions, and minimizing investment in product development, we are focusing on the short-term performance at the expense of the company's long-term success and client and employee satisfaction. I would also recommend that senior management be open to actionable input from lower levels as opposed to today's very top-down approach.

    • “Not a good company to work for.”

      Current Employee—Software Engineer in San Jose, CA. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 10 years). Pros: None, it is one of the worst places to work. Cons: Behind in current technology. Your job is a job, rather than a career.
    • “A huge ship slowly sinking”

      Current Employee—Information Security in Denver, CO. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than an year). Pros: Working from home full-time, work is easy, not stressful. Paid well relative to work and how much experience I have. Very rarely had to work over 40 hours per week and when I did, was paid overtime. Learn what you can and get out! Cons: I was a contractor so no benefits. Also no raises, training, promotions, etc. Basically I was only there to do my job and fully disposable. The company is like a huge cruise ship that is sinking. Employees rarely get raises and when they do it is peanuts. Advice: Stop focusing on the price of the stock and demands of shareholders and just focus on running the company.
    • “A slave to 'utilization'.”

      Former Employee—Senior Consultant in San Diego, TX. I worked at IBM full-time (more than 3 years). Pros: Good people to work with on projects. Cons: Executive management couldn't lead themselves out of a paper bag with both hands pushing themselves toward the exit. Utilization means more than productivity...to detriment of client. Advice: Quit treating your bread-winning serfs like members of the worlds oldest profession. Apple is going to be the big loser in the new relationship. IBM—Idiocy Beyond Measure.
    • “Just a big body shop”

      Former Employee—Principal Consultant in New York, NY. I worked at IBM full-time (more than an year). Pros: There are some very smart well meaning individuals who work at IBM who do great things in terms of innovation, client service, and delivery. Cons: Organization has a culture that is too siloed and too bureaucratic to allow results that are greater than the sum of the parts. Advice: Eliminate the unrealistic utilization targets, unrealistic financial targets, and change the half empty culture that penalizes everyone once one portion of an organization fails to meet their unrealistic targets, and return to the days when staff valued and seen in terms other than $'s.
    • “8 years at IBM”

      Current Employee—Senior Managing Consultant in Columbia, MD. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 5 years).

      Pros:

      • PTO - 3 weeks
      • Holidays - 12 (7 mandated, 5 floating)
      • Sick leave
      • Maternity/paternity
      • Comparable health care options
      • Job security
      • Plenty of online self paced training

      Cons:

      • Big focus on chargeable utilization
      • Big company, so a lot of spreadsheet management
      • No raises for 85% of employees for a couple years now
      • No raises for 40% of employees for last six years
      • Bonus/profit sharing not available for last two years
      • Training is done on personal time with minimal budget allocated
      • 401k match paid out at end of year
      • Expensive health care
      • Attrition of talented individuals

      Advice: Invest in the employees that represent IBM. Invest in training. Build a community across the staff. Consistently compensate the top 50%, not just the top 10%. Move people management tasks to the programs they are assigned.

    • “Used to be a stable career choice”

      Current Employee—Senior Software Engineer in Pittsburgh, PA. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros: Technical breadth and customer opportunities are hard to beat since IBM still is one of the largest tech companies in the world.

      If you can find them, there is an IBM expert on everything (kind of like the Federal Government).

      Cons: IBM used to a stable career choice, but with Resource Actions an annual event for the last five years, it's hard to imagine being able to last long enough to retire or even make a difference here. The typical IBM employee now is a new hire, lasts 1 to 3 years (just long enough to show one or two stable roles on the resume), then takes the resume to get a job somewhere else.

      The first and apparently only response to negative financial quarters is—do an RA, freeze hiring and salaries, eliminate training and customer travel, shift work to lower skilled, lower paid resources, shift work offshore.

      Advice: Now that you've abandoned the Roadmap 2015 financial targets, stop laying off your employees and treating them like the source of the problem, instead of the only possible solution you can have as a services and software company.

    • “Read the "Rise and Fall of IBM" by Robert Cringely—out in 2014”

      Current Employee—Services in Los Angeles, CA. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 8 years).

      Pros: The company provides decent health benefits, flexible working hours, and the ability to move into different job roles during the course of your career. There are so many jobs at IBM that it is not that hard to get hired. However, there are many problems at IBM. There are more cons than pros.

      Cons: Read Robert Cringely's book. It is all true.

      Advice: Read Robert Cringely's book and fix the problems.

    • “Technical Sales Manager”

      Current Employee—Technical Sales Manager in Washington, DC. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros: Really, really great people. Nothing not to like and respect about other IBMers.

      Cons: Leadership. The 2015 plan sucked a ton of flexibility and energy out of IBM's innovation and execution. Cost cost cutting has been painful with respect to things that really matter (salaries and innovation investments).

      Advice: Boosting dividends seems more about boosting executive pay at the expense of the ability to innovate. The reinvestment rate is less than what it could have been.

    • “Security or just marking time”

      Former Employee—Anonymous Employee in Philadelphia, PA. I worked at IBM full-time (more than an year).

      Pros: Good pay level. Decent benefits. Don't have to work hard. Can work from home. The company reigns supreme at cutting costs for everything. Company has high integrity in that it does what it says it will do (although the amount of running around you are made to do is Olympic in level).

      Cons: Not much compensation upside. Highly political environment. Leadership is often clueless and disconnected from what is really going on. Constant resource actions (code for layoffs). Teams are not provided with needed management data. An unbelievable amount of broken systems. Constant automated emails that make no sense.

      Getting technical support for the average person is ridiculously hard (have to chat with someone off shore). Lotus Notes is terrible. Executives get top shelf support, while everyone else is treated poorly. Open Office is terrible. Approvals on top of approvals are oppressive. Culture has no sense of humor.

      Advice: Wake up and get out of your holes to find out what is really going on out in the field. Engagement is lower than low. Try experiencing life as an employee. Think about how you can help teams do their job. Instead of picking off and letting the good leaders go for bringing up the real problems suggest taking the wax out of your ears and helping people.

    • “Alienating firm and uninspiring management but some interesting projects”

      Current Employee—Technology Consultant in London, England (UK). I have been working at IBM full-time (more than an year).

      Pros: Variety of work and unique projects if you are able to schmooze with the right people but you will probably need to clamber over tens of other ultra-competitive people to get there and you will need to be lucky enough that your availability happens to coincide with an interesting opportunity; otherwise you will be pressured into taking whatever vacancy exists to ensure you are being 'utilised' so that IBM can justify having you in the company.

      It is all too easy to land in a completely random job role for 6-12 months just to fill a gap which has no alignment to your actual potential, skills or desires.

      Pay is about the only thing which compensates for all this with a good starting salary and expense claiming system. You do need to negotiate what you can claim for however.

      Cons: Very very very poorly managed at all corners of the business. Disorganised beyond belief to the point that the department I belong to changed its name three times in a single year (and the work I do day-to-day is entirely unrelated to my department as a result of the situation described above).

      Absolutely no people managers or genuine leaders whatsoever.

      Senior management consists of these socially inept characters who are ruthless and self-centred. They push there way up the ranks which they can do easily by lying and sucking up to more senior people who are just as conniving as they are. Once they gain rank they exert intimidation tactics to get results from those lower than them using their influence over end of year reviews to blackmail staff into doing things.

      There is an obvious and uncomfortable fear culture that pervades the company.

      IBM has no identity anymore which is so sad because they used to be such an iconic brand that was truly innovative. Now they just cobble together these highly bespoke IT systems and market them under the guise of cloud, analytics, mobile, big data etc. They over-promise their capabilities and the time in which they can deliver things and then dump everything on the shoulders of poorly trained and largely inexperienced staff in an attempt to save as much money as possible.

      The promotion process is terribly flawed because you are reviewed by people who never actually see you working so they rely solely on written feedback from others. My manager collates the written feedback collected by the 36 people she looks after, comparing them and ranking them against each other. She then has to defend her rank order against other managers like her until there is a forced distribution of ranking levels which they all agree on. This means that two people who might perform equally well are given different ranks at the end of a year. It is the epitome of a profit-obsessed corporation.

      Do not go here if you are looking to be inspired or to feel personally valued (even though ironically you will hear the buzzword 'value' thrown around everywhere along with a whole host of other set phrases and waffly anecdotes which all the consultants like to reel off when they have no clue what they are really talking about).

      Advice: Don't allow people who are unable to manage people to have senior roles with responsibilities over other human beings. I suspect it is pointless me saying this though because there is no single person in a position to execute this advice. Authority is so diluted which is why it is so hard for anyone to make a decision in the place! I didn't come across a single manager who knew how to encourage or inspire their staff to do things. It was all task oriented and fear driven.

    • “Poor morale these days”

      Current Employee—Manager in Research Triangle Park, NC I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros: I believe salaries here are good relative to other employers in the Raleigh/Durham, NC area. There is a lot of opportunity for technical challenge. Flexible working hours (but definitely expect to work over 40 hours/week).

      Cons: Maniacal focus on cost cutting to compensate for current lack of revenue growth. This translates into regular "resource actions" and continuously trying to do more with less.

      Advice: Senior management needs to show appreciation for front line employees via their actions and spending priorities. The focus on expense cuts, the headcount freezes, the inability to move between divisions...these are limiting career opportunities and killing employee morale.

    • “UGH!”

      Former Employee—Anonymous Employee. I worked at IBM full-time (more than an year). Pros: For those who don't know any better it does sound impressive to say you once worked for IBM. Cons: Grossly overworked and underpaid and does not have integrity.
    • “Big, Slow and Wasting Talent”

      Current Employee—Business Consultant in London, England (UK). I have been working at IBM full-time (more than an year).

      Pros:

      • Some exciting projects.
      • Surrounded by very competent people.
      • Balance between work and life is pretty good.

      Cons:

      • Despite the company having very capable employees, IBM neglects, underpays and stops them from being creative and doing great work. It is probably why they have such a hard time retaining their talented employees. I've noticed the majority of them go towards or are looking at Accenture/Deloitte after a few years in the company.
      • Very slow procedures; takes ages to get anything done.
      • Education and training is seen as an expensive.
      • Strange politics within the company, which stops you from being innovative and creative. Makes it very hard to get recognized for your work.
      • Internal software known as 'Lotus Notes' and 'Connections' is absolutely terrible. Makes working more difficult.

      Advice:

      • Encourage the training and development of employees. In addition, it would be excellent to see the company promote further education such as MBAs.
      • Improve the clunky and slow Lotus/Connections.
      • Allow younger employees the chance to be creative and implement new ideas. Interns/graduates are largely neglected.
    • “My experience has been great”

      Current Employee—Anonymous Employee. Pros: Met the CEO; we do have a vision and a purpose here. Base pay is amazing. Cons: I wish I could work mobile more.
    • “Senior Project Manager”

      Current Employee — Senior Project Manager. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros: IBM has a lot to offer to college grads and recent hires. Working from home is a great. I have had the pleasure of working with people in different countries and learned so much about other cultures.

      Cons: IBM culture has changed over the year. IBM is so focused on cost cutting that they have impacted their ability to execute quickly. In my role, we spend too much time dealing with this impact of cost cutting (people gone, funding cut, too many top priorities competing for the same resources). IBM now embraces "work force rebalancing". It is actually a cost cutting "tool". Numbers are set and that trickles down to headcount reduction. If you are looking for job security, this is not the safest place to be.

      Advice: Advice to management—work on leadership skill. It seems that you have forgotten that your 430,000 resources are people. I would suggest that every manager get refresher training on how to treat people. Tough and firm is a skill that many lack; many have crossed the line to belittling.

    • “Old school management who do not want to change”

      Current Employee — Global Business Development in New York, NY. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 3 years).

      Pros: Fair salary, good health care benefits. A CEO that has a solid vision for the future of the company.

      Cons: Bureaucracy. Long-time managers and long-time employees refuse to change. Travel freeze and expense cuts. No pay raise in more than two years. Perception that the company is cheap and in financial trouble. No stability and constant fear of layoffs.

      Advice: Change is necessary. Listen to your CEO. Embrace employees that want to grow with the company, not those that want to do the same thing they've been doing for 20 years.

    • “Horrible”

      Current Employee — Technician in East Fishkill, NY. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 3 years). Pros: Good benefit package. Not much else. Cons: Horrible company to work for. You're just a number. Management is useless. Advice: Do your job and not hide in your office.
  • Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alerts. This weeks headlines include:
    • Winners in the Midterm Elections Will Affect Policies via the Budget
    • Data Show Danger Just around the Corner for the Retirement of Those 55-64
    • Affordable Care Act Changes May Take Many Shapes and Forms
    • Medicare Open Enrollment Season Goes Until December 7
    • Voters Elect New Hampshire Alliance Board Member to Statehouse
    • Did You Know…
  • New York Times:

    Finding, and Battling, Hidden Costs of 401(k) Plans. By John F. Wasik. Excerpts: LIKE millions of retirees who assumed their companies had taken care of them, Ronald Tussey never thought that his retirement plan might be flawed. He trusted his company so much he kept his money in his 401(k) long after he left.

    Having worked as an engineer for 37 years, ultimately at ABB Inc., where he retired 11 years ago, Mr. Tussey said he never paid much attention to the fees in his retirement plan and “assumed the company was looking out for my best interests.”

    But after seeing a television program on the negative impact that 401(k) expenses can have on retirement savings, he hired a lawyer, who filed a class-action lawsuit in 2006 against ABB and plan administrators. ...

    In many retirement plans, a significant amount of future retirees’ funds are devoured by fees. According to a 2012 study published by the progressive think tank Demos, high 401(k) fees can drain $155,000 from an average household over a lifetime. Higher-earning households can lose even more — up to $278,000. ...

    But the legal landscape may change substantially. In October, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a 401(k) fee case. If the court rules in favor of employees, the floodgates could open for more retirement plan lawsuits.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site

Job Cut Reports

  • Comment 11/10/14:

    Been at IBM GBS for almost 8 years. Always delivered, got 1 and 2+ ratings, exceeded my utes target each year, keeping tech skills fresh and customers happy. For the past 18 months been trying to move into mobile and analytics and guess what? Denied training (too expensive), denied project involvement (too busy to on board), denied any clear path except some nebulous advice from the APs to "blog" (about what?!?) 2/3rds of my practice wants to get RA'ed as they think there's a Golden Payout coming. Fat chance with that! Loved being an IBMer but I'm moving on. -OnwardUpward-
  • Comment 11/10/14:

    I'm afraid I have little hope for IBM. Rometty and her underling criminals have no clue and little chance to save IBM, i.e. too late to the dance. Given that, I suspect their only mission, and action going forward, is to save themselves and pad their retirement accounts. Goodbye to IBM as a viable company. Thank you Senior Executive criminals, i.e. PIGS. -IBM is Doomed-
  • Comment 11/11/14:

    Friend from Rochester (MN) was telling me yesterday about IT situation that illustrates how bad it is at IBM. On October 26, directory/HR/intranet ID, etc. records/UserID's were deleted for about 1700 employees. Was told it was everyone whose last names were in the range F - Z. This also impacted an additional unknown number of employees in Switzerland. It has been a mess, a fiasco. IBM Global Delivery or whatever the Help Desk and the folks behind it are called these days, cannot even restore full access to Connections and Communities. Obviously Connections is not ready for prime time. At least they reacted in time so payroll was not screwed up. Not sure about other benefits, but there have been rumors. -Ginny Tookus-
  • Comment 11/11/14:

    I'm shocked at how much concern is being expressed over Roadkill 2015 stock grant of seven measly shares. Get over it. That 'award' was a slap in the face. Five years of work and then five more years to get the payout and it is worth less than $1,200. Do you realize that if you flipped burgers for one hour a week for those ten years that you'd earn four times that much? That is how valuable IBM thinks your contribution to Roadmap 2015 was. When I decided to leave IBM, leaving behind seven RSU shares was the least of my concerns. If you are really concerned for your welfare spend your time more wisely. Become a paying member of Alliance. I still am. My vested interest is a retirement benefit that I don't want to see turned over to the PBGC if IBM can't make good on their responsibilities.

    The management of IBM is broken. It will only be fixed through force. That force can only come from a few sources:

    • A) Total collapse and reorganization with new governance.
    • B) A strong union forcing change.
    • C) An activist shareholder overthrow of the BOD and C suite.

    I don't want to see A happen. B or C are the only options that could stop the decline. It will not happen naturally. The leadership required does not exist in the IBM of today. If you are not part of one of those agents of change then your energies will be better rewarded elsewhere. -Anonymous-

  • Comment 11/11/14:

    I am a documentary filmmaker working on a project for FRONTLINE, the documentary film series on PBS, and am interested in speaking with former IBM employees laid off during the past 5 years. I'd be grateful if interested parties could get in touch with me via nick@bluechipfilms.com. All comments will be off the record. Very respectfully, Nick Verbitsky, Blue Chip Films for PBS FRONTLINE. -Nick Verbitsky-
  • Comment 11/12/14:

    I was part of RSD (Retail) and when it was preparing to sell off and we all got hit with a 10% pay cut, we were paid our seven stock shares early as a gloss over deal. This was in 2013. I waited until the matching funds were paid that Dec 15th and said adios. This past year being away from Big Blow has been an eye opener and long over due. More pay, bonus and raise in first year plus cheaper health care insurance. Don't stay -Played it My Way-
  • Comment 11/12/14:

    I always thought that stock option was for $1000 worth of stock at whatever the price was at the time of vesting, not a specific number of shares. So if the stock price goes down you get more shares, then it goes up (ha ha) and you sell at a profit.

    Anyway when I left, $1000 (even had it been cash in my hand right there and then) was not going to make one jot of difference to how I felt about that place or the decision to leave. Execs get millions in zero-cost options and they seem to think that a paltry insult like $1000 of stock is going to make people stay on. Makes it clear how little they understand the workforce. -Glad To Be Gone-

  • Comment 11/12/14:

    I received the internal survey this week, with assurances that it is anonymous 'due to concerns last year'. Probably not, but regardless, I filled it out honestly. I had a few questions about my work group/manager, and then IBM as a whole. I indicated 'strongly disagree' on the questions about whether I am proud to be an IBMer. Let them know the truth. Management extremely quiet these past two weeks, I guess if they want to give 30 days notice and get rid of people before the 401k match the notices will have to be done this week. Fight back, donate or join the Alliance now. Show them we're mad as hell and not going to take it any more! -ReadTheTeaLeaves-
  • Comment 11/12/14:

    Gherson's note did not say the survey was anonymous...it said it was confidential. Caveat emptor. -Big Bob-
  • Comment 11/12/14:

    That $1000 stock is not stock options, but Restricted Stock Units (RSUs). I have some as a reward/award back from when IBM gave a crap about employees. You're granted X number of shares worth $Y dollars based on the stock (closing?) price of some set date. So $1000 of IBM stock on whatever date equated to seven shares. Once vested, you can then sell those shares for whatever seven times the current_stock_price is, probably minus fees and whatnot. -Gone 2 years and counting-
  • Comment 11/13/14:

    GBS Band 10 here. US based. Received word from our Partner that we are issuing PIPs Friday, 11/14. 30 days. Do the math.

    12/14 is one day before 401k match on 12/15 right? Additionally, all deferred vacations are to be done away with for workers who have delivered over weekends etc. and executives are asked to "urge" workers to bill an additional 16 hours to clients prior to EOY. I wonder what the clients would think if they saw the 16 hour billing email? In my opinion, our ethics have been demolished. -GBS_AP-

  • Comment 11/13/14:

    Rumour has it that 18% of IM group in Toronto will be gonzo. Nothing like a great Christmas present from IBM -Crazy Canuck-
  • Comment 11/13/14:

    The employee engagement survey is probably totally anonymous (i.e. your manager will never see the names). Last year I answered everything honestly, questions like 'would you recommend ibm as a good place to work?' I marked 'strongly disagree' and it was never held against me. I received a promotion and a salary increase this year. Do not be afraid to answer that survey honestly; it's one of the few ways we can be heard. -canadiangirl -
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    Comment 11/13/14:

    Gherson is planning massive RAs between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Every year it's the same BS at IBM. Executives need to show a profit at the end. Then they have massive RAs so they can get their bonus. IBM needs a union. -ANA-
  • Comment 11/13/14:

    The survey mostly just asked you to affirm Ginni's 9 principles—'do we treasure wild ducks', etc. The back part is where you are asked if you rate IBM and would recommend to a friend/family for a job. Scoring low here and making negative comments—you may as well line yourself up for a RA. Why? Check out the privacy policy button. It takes you to a general IBM statement on the web, basically saying we will protect your data with a managed ID. If you think this is anonymous then think again. Better to avoid as a protest. -Tex-

    Alliance reply: So your advice is don't protest and don't make waves, just keep your head down and the RA's will pass you by, right?

    How's that been working for IBMers, so far? Your advice sounds like an FLM's advice. Are you an FLM?

    IBMers should do the opposite, en masse. Don't shut up, SPEAK UP! In large numbers, too. The company may not respond to you, or they may RA you, or they may "THINK" of some other negative anti-worker-profit-only-driven program to put against you; but they can't ignore you in large groups of IBMers, standing up for themselves!

    Besides, does anyone still working at IBM believe that Corporate *really cares* what their employees think? Seriously?

  • Comment 11/13/14:

    To -Tex-, You are 100% correct, I was a TA so was in on management meetings. They get together and figure out everybody they can who gave negative answers on the "selected cooperate questions". The answer is to UNIONIZE, not keep your head down...just saying. -Janice-
  • Comment 11/13/14:

    To further comment on Exec's "urging" additional billing hours. The same thing happened last year. The directive comes from your FLM to put the hours in your forecast, then you bill them. This is a direct falsification of time reporting. -PM-
  • Comment 11/13/14:

    To the point that GBS_AP points out, the Exec's 'urge' billing extra hours. They don't ask if the customer has additional work that could be billed, they just expect these hours to be billed which is falsifying labor reporting to the customer. -TMC-
  • Comment 11/13/14:

    @Tex. Your advice regarding anonymity may be correct, I can't say for certain. But working for IBM is like taking a bath with the plug pulled out. Sooner or later you will have to stand up. -RA'd in 2010-
  • Comment 11/14/14:

    For the people currently working in GTS, they are forcing subcontractors to furlough till the end of the year, and probably they wont ever comeback. As Mike RoChanel said, GTS management being told to suggest to retirement eligible employees they should leverage their personal "exit plan" before year end. -Future-ExIBMer-
  •  

    Comment 11/14/14:

    Annual enrollment for medical and other benefits has started. Apparently the incentives to exercise have been eliminated. Another $300 of benefits gone and not one sentence in the enrollment packages about this. UNREAL! -Anon- Alliance reply: You need to be more specific and list the details. You are being challenged in an above comment.
  • Comment 11/14/14:

    Some day today, with probably most of the company on pins and needles like me. Today makes all the sense in the world to give employees 30 days notice and get out of paying the 401k match and get people off the books by the end of the year. The money has been set aside, the CEO answered directly that it will happen, probably now and then again in January. Even if it's not today, what are so many IBMers like me doing all day? Looking for another job, watching this board, sitting anxiously waiting for a call or visit from their manager, watching the stock, backing up things from their workstation that they want to take with them or for evidence, despising the company for putting them through this stress. Is that a productive workforce, I ask? Join the alliance out of spite, if not for any other reason! -LowMorale-
  • Comment 11/14/14:

    Former employee here who's wife is still with IBM. We compared 2015 Benefits last night, and all I can say is OMG. I work for a small private company now, and last year our benefits were better than IBM's, so she went under my plan. The cost of my benefits are going down slightly, while the cost of the IBM plan, which was not competitive in 2014, is going through the roof. We actually joked about the fact that the Sr. Execs probably were patting themselves on the back at not including a provision that all medical benefits have to be paid back to IBM in the event you are no longer an active employee on Dec 15th.

    Maybe someone should mention that to Ginny and whatever puppet is supposedly running IBM HR as a cost savings opportunity for 2016. -Left On My Own Terms In 2013-

    Alliance reply: IBM executives and the CEO do not need ideas nor strategies any more egregiously anti-worker, than they already have in place. How about recommending that instead, IBMers join forces with their co-workers and work toward a collective employment contract? What a concept!

  • Comment 11/14/14: I'm so glad Ginni got her green golf jacket. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-14/rometty-s-augusta-green-jacket-seen-coming-too-late-for-change.html We wouldn't want her upset with any kind of sex discrimination going on at the Augusta Nation Gulf Club. Since IBM is great at their age discrimination, LOL, when it comes to RA'd. -Glad To Be Gone 2013-
  • Comment 11/14/14:

    How could non US employees contribute to you? I am from India and Alliance@IBM discussion board is the only trusted source of information for workers. There is no union in India nor do I think there is any effort anywhere to make one here in India. In any case, I want to express my thanks for the stellar efforts you are doing to organise. Is it possible for someone not in IBM US to be part of Alliance? Thanks -IndiaIBMer-

    Alliance reply: The best way for you to help Alliance would be to go to our donate page and make a donation of your choice. You are correct that there is no union in India, for now; but we are working on linking IBM India workers with a similar Alliance type organization. Thank you for your support of our efforts to keep IBM workers all over the world, informed. There is a donate link on the right column of this page.

  • Comment 11/14/14:

    Canadagirl we had so many resignations in AP that the planned RA has proved unnecessary! This is what the "business" relies on. A mass RA, denied payrises, lower pay than the market, constant battle cries for values that aren't practiced, no communication and unachievable KPI targets will usually drive a massive natural turnover. People are voting with their feet. Often into the arms of clients - and guess what - they hate us when they get there. And do everything they can to hurt us. And many will because I know a few who were treated very badly and had family breakdowns due to the pressure IBM managers put them under. Remember you are a resource not a person, an exposure not an asset and a cost not a contributor. And many don't forgive that. -BlueMax-
  • Comment 11/14/14:

    -Glad To Be Gone 2013- I was laid off by IBM because of age discrimination, yet Ginni can become member of Augusta National because she firmly believes that there should be no sex discrimination in the workplace and in any organization. We don't want to upset Ginni. -ANA-
  • Comment 11/15/14:

    Power cloud, a rearrangement of the deck chairs on the titanic. It's being run by K. Nallapati and co. The same exec team who sank AIX after years at the head with no clear direction or investment. -Inside scoop-
  • Comment 11/15/14:

    ATTENTION IBM SHEEP at Burlington and EF. If you will be part of the IBM to Global Foundries transition in 2015 please read and understand the following. EVERYONE UNDER 55 YEARS OLD on the cash balance pension plan will lose their FHA account, REGARDLESS the years of IBM service. This is a fact. GF may or may not pick it up. If you don't mind losing your FHA do nothing but please stop complaining. If you are concerned it is in your best interest to schedule a one on one meeting with your site HR to discuss "The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967." Letters to State Senators, Governor explaining what IBM is doing to their employees would also be quite beneficial. If you are reading this post and considered joining the ALLIANCE now is the perfect time. -Steve Dragosljvich, Alliance member since 2008-
If you hire good people and treat them well, they will try to do a good job. They will stimulate one another by their vigor and example. They will set a fast pace for themselves. Then if they are well led and occasionally inspired, if they understand what the company is trying to do and know they will share in its sucess, they will contribute in a major way. The customer will get the superior service he is looking for. The result is profit to customers, employees, and to stcckholders. —Thomas J. Watson, Jr., from A Business and Its Beliefs: The Ideas That Helped Build IBM.

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