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What gained fame in 2011 as a “Jeopardy!”-winning supercomputer is now analytic software that the company is aggressively marketing in a variety of industries: health care, retail, financial advising and even cooking, among others. Last week, the company formally opened Watson’s headquarters in New York City’s so-called Silicon Alley, the start-up-dense neighborhood that will serve as a base for several hundred employees. Their mission is to refine a system that mines large volumes of information, processes natural speech and answers queries. ...
IBM chose to place Watson’s headquarters in downtown Manhattan, blocks from the New York offices of Google, Twitter and Facebook, to establish itself among entrepreneurs, Rhodin said.
“We wanted to be where the start-ups were, so by having the physical presence, we can have Thursday night cocktail hours or tech discussions or hackathons. And doing that right there in that building [makes] it easily accessible to the . . . guys that have an idea,” he said.
Speaking at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif. on Tuesday, IBM’s chief executive clearly had transformation on her mind. Earlier this year, her smile was plastered all over newsstands with the cover line, “Can IBM Ever Be Cool?” (That would be the Oct. 6 issue of Fortune, of course.) Later this month, she and her team will release the company’s latest financial results with the hope that the figures will demonstrate a continued turnaround for the 113-year-old technology company, one in which it turns its back on businesses that served it well for decades and toward new ones focused around so-called cloud computing. ...
But how to instill a culture of transformation in one of the largest technology companies on the planet—one, at last count, with more than 430,000 employees? Education. Rometty, outlining a list (of three, naturally) of cyber security concerns she raises with clients, seemed to be sharing a list of corporate culture lessons, too.
“First off, internal is your biggest issue. Whatever you do, you’ve got to raise the I.Q. of your workforce. The key is, you train ‘em, you test ‘em, you keep trying to trick ‘em,” she said. “Second, you have to have a fast response team. Everyone will have a problem. Third, you have to protect your data. Don’t think of it as a home with alarms on all the windows. Assume bad things are inside.”
Pros: The employees are all smart and dependable. The company is efficiently run (at least in my department) and I learn a lot about efficiently managing and working in large software projects.
Cons: The workplace is very competitive and not very rewarding. You complete against your peers for paltry raises. The amount of cost cutting is very concerning and many people are worried about layoffs. Everyone I work with has been been working on the same pieces of the same software project for over a decade.
Advice: Need greater flexibility in job roles. Everyone works hard and applies themselves to their job. Raises should be larger and shared throughout the company and not just to the top 15% (this is from someone who regularly achieves top contributor status).
Pros: Excellent training ground if you are willing to work hard and learn. Multitude of opportunities to contribute, across many different skill sets. I was able to voluntarily leave, take my skill sets, and leverage them for more than twice the salary at another large company. You will never hear me complain about what I learned there, and some of the unsung heroes that I worked with and learned from.
Cons: Do not expect to receive recognition for your contributions. Managing up, including misrepresentation of contributions and facts, are the best way to advance. This contributes not only to unfairness, but to the downfall of the enterprise. Discrimination was outrageous in the chip division.
Advice: Telling yourself and those you report to that you are talented and wonderful does not make it so. Most of the more talented leaders left for greener pastures some time ago. Things will only improve when the leaders are examples of true talent, versus aggressive predators that put personal gain way ahead of the success of the firm.
Pros: IBM is flexible and rewards innovation (for those high enough or allowed to introduce it). Great people work there that want to do good.
Fantastic volunteer programs through "On Demand Community," where one can earn cash rewards for the nonprofit or school they serve with 40 or more hours a year.
Good leadership development programs.
Cons: There is NO loyalty to you or job security. You can have friends at IBM, but unless you are a very strong performer, NO ONE will stick their neck out for you. No one.
It's also never a good idea to have opinions contrary to the company line.
Advice: Develop your people and be more protective of the terrific talent you already have in your workforce, and less worried about the "2015 plan" and the earnings per share numbers that drive unfortunate layoffs (they call "resource actions.")
Pros: I started working at IBM as an intern in 2005 and left in 2010, at the time (and I imagine it is still this way), the company was in a transition with a lot of long time employees and a transition to workers overseas.
My favorite part about working at IBM was the people. While I was the only employee in my group under 30, that did mean that everyone I had worked with was very experienced and took me under their wing. I can't imagine where I would be without my former colleagues. We still meet for a monthly dinner to keep in touch.
Another benefit was that since so much was in transition, I took on a lot of responsibility for my young age. While some may not like that, it's a great opportunity to get your feet wet and try a bunch of different things.
Cons: What I didn't like and the reason I ultimately left was seeing a lot of people let go and budgets cut for projects I worked on. I worked in Manufacturing Support, so as you could imagine a lot of that work got marginalized as more moved overseas. I wish those who had served IBM for their entire lives were held with regard and treated with more dignity on their way out.
There was also an apprehension to embrace new technologies (even IBM software!). My skills began to atrophy when compared to my friends from college. I eventually left. IBM seems to be moving more away from that. We were still using CMVC, software that hasn't been maintained since 2000 when I left.
Too much process! We had 3rd line managers responsible for 'deploying' our application who I had never even meet.
Advice: Care for your employees more on a daily basis. Unfreeze promotions and pay increases!
Pros: Over 30 years ago, IBM was a great family oriented business; it was all about family doing activities with their families when IBM had events. Retirement plan was great for my parents when they retired.
Cons: All about the bottom dollar, and no one really cares now about being a family oriented company.
Advice: Be more personable, not so cold and stuck up. Get to know your coworkers; don't act like you are better then your fellow coworkers.
Pros: The best reasons to work for IBM are the flexibility and ability to move around within the company. Most reps that you work with are great to team with and more often than not, management is pretty generous with allowing you to be flexible with your time.
Cons: Pay is barely average for the industry. Senior management is still under the impression that being IBM is worth more than it really is. It takes a lot more than having the name to get in the door to our customers. The company has become too maniacally focused on metrics, and very meaningless metrics, rather than results. You can hit your quota and still get hammered for several menial tasks that have nothing to do with doing your job well. Sometimes being a large company can mean things take 3 times as long as they should.
Advice: There needs to be a path for employees who came in at a low salary to get a bump up to their market value without leaving the company and coming back. It is widely known that the best way to get a raise is to go work somewhere else for a year then come back and make what you are worth. Typically the person they hire to backfill you will end up making more than you requested to begin with.
Pros: I have good colleagues and can work from home. Global footprint and easy access to key decision makers while dealing with customers.
Cons: Lots of companies have been acquired recently but product integration and development is poor. Technology doesn't drive strategy anymore. Earning per share does. It takes months to years to really understand the way to be successful within that huge machinery.
Advice: Flatten the organization structure. Decrease the number of cumbersome online trainings which are a pure waste of time. Better retain technical skills
Pros: Cutting edge technology and some good managers.
Cons: No pay increases, no bonuses, no work location flexibility any more. The CEO present and former killing the company with an earning per share target of $20 by end of 2015 (was a 5 year plan). Jobs off shored for anyone in North America. (The US has lost 50K jobs that were moved to BRIC countries.) Very low morale and endless job cuts.
Advice: Stop the greed and start investing in people (IP capital) as happy people are better employees. 42 billion in share buy backs using borrowed money is not a good idea...but I guess by screwing the workers you will get those bonuses (greed greed greed).
Pros: The best reason to work here now is to gain experience, learn what you can, and use that experience, knowledge and reference on a resume, in seeking bigger and better opportunities. Unless you are one of the few to make it to the top.
Cons: Having to do more with less can only go so far. Persons are loaded with work until they fail by not being able to do it all in a quality manner. Then you are evaluated in not getting your job done and not contributing as much as expected. All for earnings per share and executive compensation.
Advice: Try to go back a little in time and do what is right with and for people, who are your employees and means to getting everything done and the company truly profitable.
Pros: You have an opportunity to work with some very smart and seasoned people. Benefits are generally good. Depending on your management, you may have an opportunity to move around and manage your career.
Cons: Training other than self-study/off-hours is pretty much non-existent due to spending budget restrictions. The internal education site "free classes" are mundane and out-of-date.
Morale overall was pretty downtrodden. Every cycle a couple of people would disappear from immediate or matrices teams in the next resource action, even where no low/mid-performers in revenue-generating roles. No longer a long-term career for most outside of management.
Benefits decreasing or disappearing. Managers can limit your mobility within company by identifying you as a "critical" resource based on job role, but have no means to justify keeping the headcount when the cuts are mandated.
Advice: Culture and values are spiraling downward. May be great if you make it to the other side of Roadmap 2015, but negatively impacting a large number of quality, performing U.S. workers along the way. Quality and time to delivery is suffering.
Pros: Had three 30-minute interviews back to back. All of them were great, wanted to know what my goals were and how the knowledge culture at IBM is so powerful. I actually felt like they cared about me as a candidate.
NOTE - YOUR EXPERIENCE MAY DIFFER.
Cons: Go read the 36+ pages of one-star Glassdoor company reviews. From what I've read:
Advice: Go read the 36+ pages of 1-star Glassdoor company reviews.
Pros: Stable, long term business that is recognized world wide as a leader in the IT segment. Work life balance for the most part is good. Always something new to learn, lots of really really smart people you get exposed to in a given day, just really great people.
Cons: Raises and promotions are few and far between, when they are they're really pitiful. In sales it used to be FUN, lots of celebration lots of talking about our successes and really feeling like a market leader. Nowadays it's not a fun place to be at all. Lots a pressure, kind of gloomy frankly. Not a lot of confidence in the new CEO. Benefits increasingly expensive every year (>10% annual increase) with something new taken away every time.
Advice: Articulate Watson in such a way that my mother (55+) and my grandmother (90+) understand the value and the potential to change the world; I really think this is a great opportunity. This is a great company, with a solid future. It shouldn't be such a grind to work here.
Cons: Although it's making lots of developments, it's not applying any to itself, therefore workers tend to implement new solutions for clients but it happens that internally things don't work out that well.
All main business developments happen mainly within the US area, and although the rest of the world forms part of the same company, it's generally not possible or very difficult to take part in any innovative project until years later.
Business values tend to be more client focused as time goes by, reducing each year workers benefits and asking people to work more hours each time without giving anything in return.
I personally like being an IBMer, but disagree with many of the actual managers view in an era where workers personal values cannot be forgotten, something which had always been a company's differentiator.
Pros: Job security, challenge, opportunities, variety, travel, big name employer, reputation, looks good on a CV.
Cons: Virtually non-existent management of its people and what there is comes from a 'must-do-it' process. I spend about 30 minutes per year with my manager (because he has to). All IBM cares about is selling more services and profiting from pimping out its highly-skilled employees to any big business with more money than sense and paying its employees as little as it can get away with.
Like a great number of IBMers (horrible horrible horrible phrase) I was TUPE'd in following a penny-pinching outsource exercise which took a brilliantly run IT team of about 30 on-shore individuals from a large telecoms operator and offshored most of the roles to India. A year later, two thirds took the money and ran, a quarter are still there (deeply unhappily so) and a three of us took up new IBM placements. Predictably, outsourcing has now stopped at the operator as a result of poor feedback.
The feeling of belonging does not exist at IBM. The only reminder I have that I work for IBM is when you see advertising boards at tennis matches saying 'IBM'. They couldn't give a damn about employees as long as they bring in revenue and keep their clients quiet. I could go on and on all day. Suffice to say, if IBM threatens to outsource your job, take the money and run.
Advice: Start caring genuinely about your key asset, i.e. your delivery employees. Without them IBM is nothing but expensive suits talking a good game, chasing ever larger salaries. The market for IT experts is picking up all the time and your staff are voting with their feet. I feel zero loyalty to IBM and will happily move on when the right opportunity comes along.
IBM only works for those gifted in self promotion. The promotion process relies on you spending 60+ hours of your own time typing in evidence into a ridiculously cumbersome home-made system to give the business some idea what you actually do. Seriously. That's how well they know you.
Pros: From a technical point of view, your learning opportunities are unbounded. Through training and job experience, even an "off" day can provide a chance to learn. With solutions focus, working on one product area will almost certainly lead to learning about some other area. People are great! People are helpful and have a willingness to mentor, or be mentored.
Cons: With mobile offices, you may be separated physically from a team, so be ready to use tools to feel connected. Still a huge bureaucracy, so getting through or following processes can be frustrating. The elephant is still learning how to dance. No longer is being good at your job a guarantee you will be able to keep that job.
Advice: It is very frustrating to see resource actions, followed relatively soon by hiring. Try to be more aware of moral in the field.
Pros: At the time I left, the "Pros" had evaporated under inept senior management. The company used to value employees by giving bonuses, pay raises and other events.
Cons: Bad hours, low to no pay raises and bonuses. Extensive outsourcing of positions to under-qualified Indians. The company also required many former work-at-home employees to move across the country or no longer have a job.
Advice: 1st and 2nd line management need to stand up as a group to executive leadership that is running the company into the ground.
Pros: Exposure to some of the best IT talent in the world: developers, researchers and sellers. Global responsibility drives a big picture mentality — you have an important role in shaping the business, working with colleagues from all over the world.
Cons: Elitist executive culture, lacking the 'how to' achieve the vision they have defined. Concerned more about 'the street'; little or no regard for the rank and file employee — shareholder myopia.
Advice: Being an executive does not mean you have all of the answers — listen to and value your employees. Ratchet down the arrogance.
Pros: Great capabilities and great people but that won't last.
Cons: Collaboration within a service line and amongst service lines used to be what makes IBM special. Now neither is happening. In fact you are competing not only with your peers within one group but with your up line partner who can call the shot on who gets the lead signing or revenue credit. So you make the sale, negotiate it, sign it and at the end you may or may not get credit for it.
Direction is set in Armonk and no empowerment to local teams or localization of those decisions. One size fits all.
People are not getting raises and are frustrated with the extreme utilization targets. Always an excuse to rank you lower and to pay you less bonus, if any. The feeling is that the company is building a negative environment to make people leave without severance. And that's what I did once I found the right opportunity after almost two decades with IBM.
The shift into CAMS (cloud, analytic, mobile, security) is sudden and also late so clients and employees don't know how to go from here to there with IBM.
Advice: There has to be a local view to each country and each market/sector. One size fits all will drown a brand that used to be great.
Pros: Great place to learn and grow your skills. I learned a LOT, and worked with some of the smartest people on earth.
Cons: It's a big company, so you don't matter. Compensation for sales people is a joke...no accelerators, no club trips, no recognition for top performers. They are losing top talent everyday and could care less about how this affects their customers. Read IBM 100 year book...what would the Watsons think about where IBM is going? Who invested during the depression? IBM. Spend some of that cash you bank every quarter in helping America, vs. cut to drive stock price.
Advice: Somehow try to find a way to make a difference. Be bold as you may be the reason IBM turns back to what the Watsons wanted.
AT&T has hired Aon consulting to coordinate the termination of the "old" plan and help retiree's move forward with their new options. ...
The HRA money is currently $2700 for the retiree plus an additional $1500 for their qualified spouse. This is your 2015 deposit. AT&T literature indicates future contributions are not guaranteed.
Private health exchanges, some of which predate the Affordable Care Act, allow employees to choose the group coverage they want from a range of plans, usually offered by different insurers. In that case, the competition between insurers for that business, at least in theory, helps contain health-care costs.
While a number of companies signed up for private exchanges last fall, a National Business Group on Health survey of 136 large U.S. employers showed just 3% plan to use private exchanges for active employees next year, although 35% said they were considering doing so in 2016 or later.
(Editor's note: Starting this year, the decreasingly fewer IBM retirees still eligible for retirement health insurance were forced into a private health exchange.)
Each of nine individuals (Gates, Buffett, 2 Kochs, 4 Waltons, Zuckerberg) made, on average, so much from his/her investments since January, 2013 that a median American worker would need a quarter of a million years to catch up. For the most part it was passive income, new wealth derived from the continuing productivity of America's workers. ...
A big reason to get angry: Our country's wealth grew from $64 trillion to $80 trillion (a 25 percent increase!) in two years, reflecting the unprecedented surge in America's productivity and wealth over the past few years. But there was little if any new innovation or job creation by these big takers over the past two years. The simple fact that they were already incomprehensibly rich allowed them to sit back and collect more and more and more.
Then IBM did away with pension plans and went to a 401K pension however I was unable to participate / benefit under the new pension plan because inactive/disabled employees were excluded from making contributions.
I am pretty sure the current plan has deprived me of much of the expected pension benefits that were in place for me at the time of the accident in 2004 when I went on long term disability.
Can anybody help me understand how the 2006 pension changes impacted my future pension benefits as it relates specifically to my situation (an employee who went out on long term disability prior to pension change in 2006. As an inactive employee unable to participate in the 401K program I think I am getting totally shafted as I have had no means of benefiting/participating or growing my pension between now and the time I turn 65.
Can anyone advise of what provisions if any were made for inactive employee at the time of the plan change in 2006. What recourse do I have and who can I discuss the specifics of my situation with to get further insight. Again I am pretty sure I got shafted but don't appreciate how badly as I have been away from what has been going on in the pension arena for 10 years since the accident. All feedback/insight/suggestions welcome. -CP-
... "1.5.2 If You Are Receiving Long-Term Disability Benefits ...
If you begin receiving LTD benefits prior to 2008 and have vested rights to your Personal Pension Account, you will receive pay credits and transition credits, if any, for up to five years. However, pay credits and transition credits will stop once any distribution is taken. Your account will continue to earn monthly interest credits until your account balance is distributed to you in its entirety."
"LTD Benefits That Begin After June 30, 1999 ...
If your LTD benefits begin after June 30, 1999, and you have at least five years of service at the time you begin receiving LTD benefits, you will continue to receive pay credits and transition credits, if any, for up to five years from the date your LTD benefits begin."
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