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Highlights—November 17, 2007

  • Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin: Bush vetoes funds for IBM cancer study. Hinchey still hopeful $3.2M will be approved in future bill. By Tom Wilber. Excerpts: President Bush vetoed a spending bill this week that would have funded a $3.2 million cancer-rate study of IBM workers in Endicott. The measure, championed by U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley, included language directing the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health to conduct the IBM study using funds in this year's budget. It was part of a $150.7 billion Labor Health and Education appropriation bill vetoed on Monday. ...

    The IBM-Endicott study would determine whether employees suffer from a disproportionately high cancer rate. It would be based on 28,000 personnel files dating to the early 1960s that document the IBM work force at the sprawling Endicott facility, now owned by Huron Real Estate Associates. They would be cross-referenced with cancer and death records kept by state and federal government agencies so researchers will be able to tell if a person who worked for the company for a given period developed cancer any time after that.

    The study also would tap IBM's industrial hygiene records to track what chemicals were used, and where and when they were used, in an attempt to characterize likely exposure scenarios for workers in various departments. Proponents have said the study would be a significant contribution to worldwide occupational safety, including in countries that use chemicals and processes being phased out in this country.

  • The Inquirer: IBM buys Cognos. Excerpts: IBM said it agreed to pay close to five billion dollars to acquire Cognos, a Canadian software outfit. Big blue said the acquisition supports its Information on Demand strategy. Cognos becomes the twenty-third company to be subsumed into IBM's business information (BI) initiative.
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retiree Issues message board: "FYI: Expense freeze among other things" by "sby_willie". Full excerpt: I got this from an IBM BOnD approver. (Buy on Demand is the system IBM employees use to buy office supplies, software, and some inexpensive hardware): "In light of spending controls for Q407, all non-revenue generating carts are frozen. Please confirm if the cart in subject line is revenue generating in 2007."

    All non-revenue generating POs have been frozen for 4Q, including all supply orders. Unless your request is directly generating revenue or related to a previous contractual obligation, you'll need unit CFO approval prior to submitting to the Controller's ID now to even request an exception (not guaranteed approval). Thank you & have a nice day..."

    Of course more petty expense cost controls which is so old business as usual in Big Blew.

    Brother or sister: can you spare a pencil, paper clip, staples, etc.?

    So how does this bode for the 4QTR2007?

    BTW, IBM has the funds ($14 billion at it's disposal I believe) to do stock buyback(s). Now is that $14 billion for a buyback revenue generating?

    BTW, a reminder: get your IBM Thanks! awards in ASAP before they freeze this program out before today is done for all it is worth.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retiree Issues message board: "FYI: Expense freeze among other things" by "ol_pops". Full excerpt: I don't know what division/area this is but I remember back in FSD just before it was sold, that they even froze the supply cabinets. Put all the supplies in one room with a guy at the door. If you wanted a new pencil, he would go and get one for you. It would be a used one too.
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retiree Issues message board: "FYI: Expense freeze among other things" by "bits_bytes_and_bugs ". Full excerpt: Managers can't even buy flowers for an employee's family member's funeral.
  • Australian IT: Big Blue eyes on Asia potential. By Stuart Kennedy. Excerpts: People are a scarce resource for IBM Australia boss Glenn Boreham, who has been hard at work hiring more than 1000 into the local outfit over the past year.

    A big believer in offshoring basic IT work, which is not surprising since IBM runs many development centres around the globe, Boreham says it is incumbent on businesses and governments seeking to optimise economies to push low-value IT work elsewhere and skill up the workers whose jobs are exported.

  • Vault message board post: "Thanks Frank. Missed that one" by "civilliberty". Full excerpt: "There are political realities in potential headlines about Australian jobs going offshore, but more and more business leaders and Australian workers understand that if we see a company announce that there's a couple of hundred jobs going to India, we should applaud that. That means a couple of hundred Australians can be upskilled, put in better jobs and have better longevity in the workforce."

    I haven't met an IT worker yet that's happy about having his/her job off-shored. As for upskilling those whose jobs have been moved off-shore - that's a highly unlikely practice within IBM. If it's being done, then there are 2 reasons for it:

    • Extreme scarcity of staff for roles - Australia is indeed running hot, but we're getting a lot of sub-standard IT resources from a certain part of the world which is flooding the market and bringing rates down.
    • They get resources doing work for the same pay , but at a higher level - a typical IBM approach.
    • There is one further reason behind the Australian government's reluctance to off-shore, and that's due to the rampant white-collar crime with respect to sensitive data, in that part of the world. But, Boreham won't tell you that, despite even the indian majors alluding to it.
  • Vault message board post: "Good point. Mistake there" Full excerpt: I certainly didn't mean to imply that IBM's version of upskilling is in fact favourable. In IBM's case it's actually a misnomer.

    Boreham is about as bad as it gets with the propaganda he has come out with on this one - in fact it shocks and sickens me to see him put out that tripe that employees not only view the offshoring favourabley , but actually applaud it. In the mean time they continue the well worn path of retrenching people - not upskilling, unless they are truly experiencing insufferably low staff numbers (there are or were meant to be about 160 jobs open at one stage. Though they recently lost some work for Australia's largest telco).

    What a hopeless organisation, and yet it could have been truly successful in the consulting space, if they had competent management running the company. So many good consultants at one stage, but their lousy appraisal shrouded in secrecy with gutless morons administering it and the internal HR job placement has well and truly relegated the company to the bottom of the pile as far as quality, business knowledge, integrity and ability to put forth workable business strategies go.

  • eWeek: IBM Hit with Poaching Lawsuit. By Deborah Perelman. Excerpts: A new lawsuit accuses IBM of pitting its former and current staffing firms against each other in Tulsa. IBM is being sued for encouraging one staffing partner to entice employees from a former staffing partner. ...

    In the AcctKnowledge case, IBM is accused of encouraging Manpower, its current temporary staffing firm in Tulsa, Okla., to poach employees from its former one, AcctKnowledge. A temporary staffing firm that had been providing finance workers to IBM for three years, AcctKnowledge filed a lawsuit Oct. 25 against the technology giant, accusing IBM of breaking its contract and trying to take the involved employees with it.

  • Jim Hightower; House the Rich. Full excerpt: Once again, let’s take a peek [Lifestyle theme] into the “Lifestyles of the Rich … and Cranky.”

    You think you’ve got it tough trying to find affordable housing or trying to figure out how you can pay for a two-bedroom apartment instead of the one-bedroom you’re now in? Well you don’t know the meaning of troubles, bucko, until you’ve walked a mile in the Guccis of those poor rich people who are dealing in the luxury housing market.

    Yes, the general housing market has cooled down all across America, but stop thinking about yourself. The high-end housing market is booming, and it's a struggle for folks there to get what they want. Take the case of a couple in Manhattan who recently found a sweet little duplex off Park Avenue. It was only $6 million, so of course they jumped on it. Indeed, they tacked an extra half-million dollars onto the asking price in order to fend off competing buyers.

    Buying it, however, was the least of their troubles. Naturally, they had to tear out the existing walls and flooring and renovate the space to suit their taste… as well as to suit their social ambitions. And, darling, luxury renovation is not for the meek. The lady of the house had to quit her banking job so she could devote full time to coordinating the restoration. There was a small army of some 50 architects, specialty decorators, expediters, staircase builders, audiovisual installers, and whatnot who were called in to make the place “just so.”

    Coping with luxury housing is harder than you riff-raff can imagine. I mean when you’re having kitchen cabinets built for you in Italy and purchasing a custom-made, wrap-around $30,000 couch – well, sweetheart, you’re going to have some headaches.

    So, please, don’t tell us your tacky little stories of subprime mortgage woes, and don’t bore us with sad sack tales about your hunt for middle-class housing. Show a little love for those at the top, who’re struggling so mightily to make do in the Gilded Age.

  • The Motley Fool: Shareholders Are Winning ... Slowly. By Selena Maranjian. Excerpts: CEOs have a reputation for big paychecks. According to the folks at socialfunds.com, the average American worker earned $29,544 in 2007, while the average Fortune 500 CEO made about $27,400 per day. A recent survey found that 77% of Americans think CEOs "earn too much."

    Most of us are ticked off by what seems like overcompensation, but are any of us doing anything about it? Well, some are -- by introducing resolutions and making proposals at corporate annual meetings. I knew this kind of thing was happening more often lately, but I didn't have too many details until I ran across an article by Sam Pizzigati at CorpWatch.org. ...

    Keep an eye on shareholder resolutions for companies you own, and cast your vote for those you believe in. Did you realize that if you don't send in your vote, management will usually count your vote as being aligned with theirs?

  • Wall Street Journal: Smoothing Your Retirement Plan. By Andrea Coombes. Excerpts: Typical (retirement) calculators focus on income, figuring that in retirement you'll need some percentage of your current income, say 85%. When you plug in your information -- such as how much you earn, how much you've saved and when you expect to retire -- they calculate how much you'll need to save to reach that goal. But they essentially ignore how your expenses change dramatically both before and in retirement.

    Laurence Kotlikoff, an economist at Boston University, says targeting a specific dollar amount for the future is the wrong way to approach the question.

    Mr. Kotlikoff and his colleagues have developed and market a tool called ESPlanner (www.ESPlanner.com) based on economists' theory of "consumption smoothing" -- the idea of maintaining a relatively level living standard over your lifetime.

    A consumption-smoothing model focuses on your likely spending and saving needs over time, accounting for temporary big outlays and a changing household structure (for instance, once the kids leave home, your expenses change). It aims to make sure your living standard remains steady, rather than suffering jolts as you try to sock away, say, 20% of your income every year no matter what comes up.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: Incorrect pension eligible earnings by "Gerhard Blendstrup". Excerpt: I just was informed by IBM that an internal IBM audit has discovered that my pension record contained incorrect eligible earnings data and IBM requires me to pay back within the next three months over $3000. Does anybody in this group received a similar letter and what shall we do about it? I suggest to ask IBM for detailed and specific information about its error made and will refrain from any other action until then.
  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: Incorrect pension eligible earnings" by "ibmaccountant". Full excerpt: Very interesting development. Maybe screwing retirees and ex-employees is a new revenue source for this cash starved company with stunted growth.

    First, I'd ask for information. Get it in writing.

    Second, I'd ask how ERISA law treats employers who are incompetent in pension calculations, assuming this is a DB pension error not a CB or 401(k) mistake. Do you have any protection or possible delay in payments? Do you have to pay interest?

    Third, if who made the mistake? Fidelity? IBM? If so, who can you sue to recover the damages? Fourth, this is a great business story for Cringley or some at the WSJ. Imagine, the great IBM is apparently having a tough time cutting correct payroll checks and calculating pension payments. This should hurt the brand's image, especially with recruiting.

  • Yahoo! IBM Pension and Retirement Issues message board: "Re: Incorrect pension eligible earnings" by Janet Krueger. Excerpts: A good place to go for assistance is the Pension Rights Center: http://www.pensionrights.org/contact.php. They maintain a good list of contacts who will give you very reliable help without charging; if there is a counseling project in your area, take the letter sent you, as well as any documentation you kept about your initial pension selection, and visit or call them.
  • American Rights at Work: Labor Board Further Victimizes the Victim. Excerpts: This past September, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued an unprecedented number of decisions undermining workers’ fundamental rights. Included in the deluge of cases are two that further undermine the law’s already paltry provisions for compensating victims of illegal employer conduct. The Bush-dominated Board has added new hurdles that workers must overcome before they can receive what employers have unlawfully taken away.

    Under the current law, there are no penalties, fines, or punitive sanctions for employers who break the law. The only remedy for workers who are illegally fired that employers must “make victims whole” by providing back pay for the period between the firing and until the worker finds a new job. But the Republican majority of the Board decided that workers who experience employer discrimination apparently have it too easy.

News and Opinion Concerning Health Savings Accounts, Medical Costs and Health Care Reform
Minimize
  • Los Angeles Times: Health insurer tied bonuses to dropping sick policyholders. By Lisa Girion. Excerpts: One of the state's largest health insurers set goals and paid bonuses based in part on how many individual policyholders were dropped and how much money was saved. Woodland Hills-based Health Net Inc. avoided paying $35.5 million in medical expenses by rescinding about 1,600 policies between 2000 and 2006. During that period, it paid its senior analyst in charge of cancellations more than $20,000 in bonuses based in part on her meeting or exceeding annual targets for revoking policies, documents disclosed Thursday showed.

    The revelation that the health plan had cancellation goals and bonuses comes amid a storm of controversy over the industry-wide but long-hidden practice of rescinding coverage after expensive medical treatments have been authorized.

    These cancellations have been the recent focus of intense scrutiny by lawmakers, state regulators and consumer advocates. Although these "rescissions" are only a small portion of the companies' overall business, they typically leave sick patients with crushing medical bills and no way to obtain needed treatment. ...

    Health Net had sought to keep the documents secret even after it was forced to produce them for the hearing, arguing that they contained proprietary information and could embarrass the company. But the arbitrator in the case, former Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Sam Cianchetti, granted a motion by lawyers for The Times, opening the hearing to reporters and making public all documents produced for it. ...

    The documents show that in 2002, the company's goal for Barbara Fowler, Health Net's senior analyst in charge of rescission reviews, was 15 cancellations a month. She exceeded that, rescinding 275 policies that year -- a monthly average of 22.9.

    More recently, her goals were expressed in financial terms. Her supervisor described 2003 as a "banner year" for Fowler because the company avoided about "$6 million in unnecessary health care expenses" through her rescission of 301 policies -- one more than her performance goal.

    In 2005, her goal was to save Health Net at least $6.5 million. Through nearly 300 rescissions, Fowler ended up saving an estimated $7 million, prompting her supervisor to write: "Barbara's successful execution of her job responsibilities have been vital to the profitability" of individual and family policies.

  • CNN: Tips to effectively battle your insurance company. By Elizabeth Cohen. Excerpts: Todd Robinson doesn't need Michael Moore to tell him the health insurance system in the United States is in crisis. Robinson's 7-year-old son, Bailey, suffered from adrenoleukodystrophy, a rare genetic disorder affecting the brain, portrayed in the movie "Lorenzo's Oil."

    The Robinsons say their insurance company refused to pay for $200,000 worth of medical bills. The company stamped "denied" on bill after bill, refusing to pay for countless medical services right up until the day Bailey died in 2005.

    The Robinsons are not alone. Tales of frustration with insurers abound. In an Internet survey that included 1,000 consumers, nearly one out of four said he or she had had a legitimate claim denied by their health insurance, according to PNC Financial Services Group.

  • CCH Internet Research Network: Affordability Is The Primary Health Insurance Concern. Excerpts: “National health care reform is inevitable,” agreed Joseph Paduda, a principal at Health Strategy Associates in Madison, Conn., in the same Contingencies issue. “The irresistible force of desperation will overwhelm the heretofore immovable object of political inertia,” he asserted in his article, Ready Or Not. “And while it’s too early to predict how it will be funded, what form it will take, and who among the stakeholders will be outraged and who delighted, it’s abundantly clear that economic and political forces are rapidly approaching critical mass.”

    Mr. Paduda reviewed President George W. Bush’s health care reform proposal in light of available data regarding the uninsured and the health insurance market. Mr. Bush’s plan would make health insurance mandatory for individuals and provide a tax deduction for premiums:

    “In reality, the incentive provided by the deduction is tiny compared to the actual cost of insurance coverage,” Mr. Paduda wrote. “And people covered by their employers’ plans already enjoy a tax benefit, as employer-paid premiums (and in most cases, employee-paid premiums) are paid with pretax dollars. Thus, the deduction would only provide a financial incentive for people seeking coverage via the individual market, a relatively small population.” The value of the tax deduction is much higher for high-income individuals than for those with lower incomes, and would hardly be an incentive for those low-income families, many reviewers have observed.

    The Kaiser Family Foundation has found that 20.2 million uninsured individuals live in families earning between one to three times the federal poverty level of $19,037 for a family of four representing nearly half of all uninsured. Even the best off of these families would have to allocate one-fifth of their gross income to health insurance premiums under the President’s plan, Kaiser noted.

  • Salt Lake City Tribune, courtesy of Physicians for a National Health Program: Universal health care would be a boon to the free market. By Robyn Blumner. Excerpts: Rudy Giuliani has been called ”Bush with brains” by those who fear that the former New York City mayor shares a penchant for unbridled executive power. But the Republican presidential primary frontrunner seems to have a screw loose when it comes to campaigning. His attack of Hillary Clinton’s health care proposal with the bugaboo of European-style ”socialized” medicine is not only full of factual holes, but it will surely bite him in the butt if he makes it to the general election.

    Americans were taken in by health insurance industry foils Harry and Louise the first time Clinton offered this country decent health care reform, but they won’t be fooled again. If Giuliani wants to make this election a referendum on America’s health care system, he’s going to flame out faster than a hospital can dump an uninsured patient. ...

    If the next president does nothing else but add this country to the pantheon of advanced nations that provide universal coverage, it will be a successful tenure, one that will be remembered fondly by generations to come, like that of FDR for Social Security and LBJ for Medicare.

    But guaranteed health care will not only serve to relieve the anxieties of tens of millions of American families, it will also be a shot of adrenaline to our economy. Giuliani is so busy offering dissembled statistics on how lethal England’s health care system is to men with prostate cancer, he fails to see just how free-market-friendly universal coverage would be. (And as I was just in England, Mr. G., I can tell you that no one I asked would trade their national health service for America’s system.)

    Economists and business leaders talk about a phenomenon called ”job lock,” when a person stays in a job primarily due to its attendant health benefits. Maybe they’re stuck because one of their children has a pre-existing condition that won’t be covered right away by a different insurer. Maybe it’s because they take expensive prescription drugs that may not be on the formulary of another employer’s plan. ...

    And then there is the entrepreneurial energy that would be unleashed if people felt free to leave their big company jobs in order to invest in their own ideas. A recent study conducted by Philip DeCicca, an assistant professor of economics at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, suggests that there is pent-up entrepreneurialism in the U.S. that is being held back by the prohibitive cost and unavailability of individual health coverage. ...

    Employer-sponsored health insurance is a historical accident that is now crippling American competitiveness. We’ve all heard by now that health care adds $1,500 to the cost of every General Motors car. All this is to suggest that, from a macroeconomic perspective, universal coverage would not weaken the free market as Giuliani asserts, but rather bolster and energize just about every aspect of it.

  • New York Times: It’s Not Just the Uninsured. By Bob Herbert: The tedious, hair-splitting debates over health care that we’re getting from the presidential candidates — those who talk about health care at all — seem out of sync with the enormity of the problem. For families without the protection of health insurance, the devastating combination of serious illness and imminent financial ruin can be absolutely mind-numbing, stunning in its tragic intensity.

    For Sandra Hightower, the nightmare began in the summer of 2005 when Brittney (her teen-aged daughter) had to have a cyst on an ovary removed. More cysts developed and in early 2006 doctors found that Brittney had cancer. She underwent surgery in Houston and the prognosis, according to Ms. Hightower, was good. “Everything was fine,” she said. “All results came back clear.”

    Ms. Hightower did not think at the time that she would take too much of a financial hit because she had health insurance at her job, and the policy covered Brittney. “All I had on my mind was Brittney,” she said.

    The cancer recurred three or four months later and more surgery was required, followed by chemotherapy. The 15-year-old who loved to dance, and who wasn’t sure whether she wanted to be a model or a pediatric nurse, was now having to battle for her life like a warrior in combat.

    The next round of bad news came in a double dose. One night, after coming home from school, Brittney suddenly found that she couldn’t walk. The cancer had attacked her spinal cord. As the doctors geared up to treat this new disaster, Ms. Hightower received word that her insurance policy had maxed out. The company would not pay for any further treatment.

    Ms. Hightower was aghast: “I said, ‘What do you mean? It was supposed to be a $3 million policy.’ ” She hadn’t understood that there was an annual limit of $75,000 on benefits. “It was just devastating when they told me that,” she said.

    Most of the debate about access to health care has centered on people without insurance. But there are cases like this one all over the country in which individuals are working and paying for coverage that, perversely, kicks out when a devastating illness kicks in.

New on the Alliance@IBM Site:
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  • What Every IBM Employee should know about your Health Care Premium. Excerpts: IBM pays a fixed amount for health care plan premiums for each employee. The amount is a closely guarded secret, but is rumored to be in the neighborhood of $7,500 per single employee per year. It is higher for those with families. This amount will remain unchanged in 2008. In other words, the health care cost to IBM for each employee will show no increase, no change, from 2007 to 2008. IBM cost is not going up. Employee costs will be going up substantially. ...

    In the case of the PPO plan, the benefits and copays associated with the plan are negotiated to match the premium, which is 100% paid by IBM. This PPO premium amount is not set by the negotiated benefits. Rather, it is set by IBM as the same amount as last year. The benefits and copays associated with the PPO plan are then negotiated to match the premium. Because of this, those on the PPO plan will notice their co-pays (especially for prescription drugs), deductibles, and out-of-pocket maximums go up substantially.

  • New Membership Category: IBM employees and retirees have told us during our membership drive that they would like to support the Alliance financially but that $10 a month was too much. The Alliance@IBM understands your situation and is pleased to announce a new category Associate Member for only $5 a month.

    Associate Members will receive the newsletter Think Twice as well as e-mail alerts. Associate Members contribution of $5 a month help sustain and grow the Alliance@IBM financially. Associate Members are not eligible for the benefits and rights of full membership. Join now!

  • More Virtual Strike success, by Lee Conrad. Full excerpt: One month after a virtual protest staged in Second Life with almost 2'000 avatars demonstrating on IBM islands, a new contract with IBM Italy has been signed.

    The new agreement, which still needs to be approved by the IBM Italy workforce, reinstates the performance bonus that was cut unilaterally by IBM Italy management.

    The agreement signed by IBM Italy and the trade union Rappresentanze Sindacali Unitarie (R.S.U.) not only includes the performance bonuses from 2007 up until 2010 but also payments by IBM into a national health insurance fund and also states that negotiations will continue with respect to IBM industrial and business strategies in Italy and the improvement of internal communication policies.

    The situation abruptly improved and negotiation resumed after the former country manager left IBM in the mid of October, who had signed responsible for the pay cuts in the first place. His departure cleared the air and facilitated constructive negotiations between social partners as this could be expected from a professional management of a high-tech company.

    The virtual demonstration organized on 27 September for a whole day has certainly had an impact on the positive development. Almost 2'000 virtual protestors from 30 countries populating IBM premises in Second Life solicited an unprecedented media echo from all over the world, including TV and radio stations, daily news papers, computer and business magazines. The virtual protest had been supported by global unions such as the International and European Metalworkers Federations (IMF and EMF) and UNI Global Union.

    The threat of strike action in the "real world" by the Italian unions after the virtual protest has certainly also helped to break the deadlock. Yet, the impact of this historical action in Second Life must not be underestimated.

  • From the Job Cuts Status & Comments page
    • Comment 11/08/07: For my fellow IBM'ers who were/are RA'd. I was pinched back in May but was extended to meet the needs of the client. They kept on wanting to extend me due to the needs of my skills. They were looking to push me past December when I put my foot down. I was searching internally, but honestly, its a waste of time. You are treated like you have plague when you are on "the list". Its very very bad and EVERYONE at ALL levels are covering their asses.

      I had two different opportunities that were pulled from me so that a manager could take them. You also need to have JCS or someone at her level to approve getting you removed from the list. THERE IS NOWHERE TO HIDE ANYMORE. I have told everyone a few times.. take this time whether you are RA'd or not to polish your resume as well as archive at home all of your records like pay ratings and education. Start looking even if you have no interest in leaving yet, this will at least prepare you for the eventual RA's that will continue. I was a PBC 2+ 1 average employee with what was told by upper management and others as in demand hot skills.

    • Comment 11/09/07: When you're RA'd, IBM is telling you that your current job is GONE. The only job you have left is to find your next job, and the company gives you precious little time to do that. If your boss tells you to keep on doing your old job, tell him to stuff it. If management really wanted to you to keep on doing your job, they wouldn't have RA'd you in the first place. You should feel NO loyalty to your boss or your old job. IBM JUST TOOK IT AWAY FROM YOU. People really need to wake up about this. Spend whatever time you have left on finding a new job. And to HECK with your old one. -Anon-
    • Comment 11/09/07: "Your manager should be helping you find another job in IBM during this period. Ask what your manager is doing to help you find another job. That is also their job or at least was." You are dreaming. This is the new IBM "I've Been Mugged" -Dreaming-
    • Comment 11/09/07: To: I got RAed but the manager is still pushing me to support my clients till the end. How can I resist? Thanks! -RAedButStillBeingPushed- *** Tell your manager that you are doing your job, finding a new job within IBM within 30 days and that you are your own primary client during the 30 days. Send out job one job feeler per day for positions at least 2 levels above your current position; you are already black-listed, so all job searchers are futile. Get your resume to outside companies as fast as you can. You are GONE within IBM, so use the facilities they have available to you now, to get a new job somewhere else, where you are wanted. -no_ky-
    • Comment 11/09/07: RA'dButStillBeingPushed and others who commented: Again, a big wow! When both myself and my husband were RA'd, we were told by IBM friends who were "decent" mgrs that we might as well hang it up....our mgrs were NOT going to help us find jobs and further, if you were RA'd, the likelihood of finding a job yourself at IBM was slim to none.

      The situation with the girl who is being pushed to find a job within IBM smells funny. There is something going on there that is not normal for this process. Who knows what it is? Basically, if you get RA'd, they want you out of the company, and if they don't, you will know it pretty quickly.

      Don't think that if you support your client, your manager will reward you for going beyond the call of duty, have 2nd thoughts and keep you around. Management is rewarded for getting rid of you. I had the worst mgr in the history of IBM when I was RA'd and he was completely obvious about doing absolutely nothing to help us out. -Don't be Fooled-

    • Comment 11/12/07: Does anyone know if obtaining one of the IBM "Certified IT Professional" designations has any real benefits within or outside of IBM. I've heard both ends of the spectrum within IBM. Some have told me it's worth the effort since it will automatically protect one from being RA'd as well as guarantee annual pay raises and increased bonuses by way of being moved into specific job families upon certification. However, I've also been told that even though it will be looked upon positively by management there is no official policy of treating certified employees differently. It seems like a significant investment for such an unknown return.

      Would it be a wiser choice to pursue an industry recognized certification offered by vendors directly (e.g. microsoft, oracle, cisco etc.)? In regards to value of IBM certification outside of IBM I’ve never seen it listed on any of the major job boards like DICE etc. -Any Future in IT?-

    • Comment 11/12/07: Feedback I have heard from former IBMers is that the IBM Certifications are meaningless outside of IBM. Within IBM, they are a hurdle to overcome in order to progress beyond band 8, so as to limit the number of employees at the higher end of the banding scale. Apparently the ideal banding distribution from an HR perspective is a diamond; i.e. the majority of employees concentrated in the middle bands, so as to avoid paying higher compensation. -Anonymoose-
    • Comment 11/12/07: Certifications are grouped into 2 categories: profession and technology/product. The profession certifications would be like Certified IT Specialist, Architect, Sales Professional, etc. The product/technology ones are like DB2, CCIE, Oracle, etc. In the profession certifications, none of the IBM ones have any value outside of IBM with the exception of maybe the sales professional, provided you go work for an IBM channel partner.

      The PM certification is in addition to the PMP certification.

      There has been some talk of the Architect certification to be paired or recognized by an external IT architect organization, but nothing much has been said about it. The only true profession certification of value is the PMP (Project Mgr Professional) provided by the PM Institute. It is very valued in the marketplace. IBM doesn't usually pay for your certification unless you are a PM slated for big things and loved by management.

      The product/technology certifications are of value in that particular field, but make sure the IBM certification provides an external certification #. If not, then you cant prove you have it outside of IBM. In summary, go for the PMP and forget everything else. If you are a techie, then go for the product certifications. -Certified Many Times-

    • Comment 11/16/07: I received this email yesterday from a guy who created Notesbuddy (which in my opinion is far better than sametime). It's pretty cruel to have hired him, used his notesbuddy features in sametime, then laid him off. If this guy can get laid off...I'm sure none of us is safe. -Anonymous-

      Dear Friend of NotesBuddy,

      First of all, I apologize for contacting you directly and taking your time. I requested a list of the users that were still using NotesBuddy 15 days ago so I could communicate with you directly about the transition to Sametime. I realize that some of you have already made the switch to Sametime, but nevertheless I wanted to send you a note. First and most importantly, I want to thank you for hanging in there 'til the end. NotesBuddy has been a great ride for Craig Swearingen and myself. We got a lot of satisfaction and enjoyment from the project and from watching the sat and "delight" numbers grow. When NotesBuddy achieved the milestone of being used daily by 100,000 IBMers and thousands of customers (by word-of-mouth, the best measure of success), with sustained high satisfaction numbers, Craig and I were asked to come and bring some of that phenomenon to the commercial Sametime product by leaving our posts in Software Group Strategy (Ease of Use) and joining Lotus. I felt strongly enough to move my family from Austin to Westford, Massachusetts.

      18 months later, many of the more popular features of NotesBuddy, some still not found in competitors' products, have found their way into Sametime. Admittedly, some of the more experimental, albeit popular features, are not there yet, including the performance characteristics, but of the 110,000 users at the peak, more than 80,000 have moved to Sametime with relatively low numbers of complaints. Of course there are some pet features that even I miss, but by far, the core set is there. Remember, we have to integrate on a world-wide basis, with high quality, and some of the features were a bit too radical to make it into the first roll-outs.

      So, when the CIO set plans to "sunset" NotesBuddy, I asked for the list of remaining users (about 45,000, including YOU), and I meant to send out this note right away. But since then, the world has turned upside down for me, and a few things have happened to the NotesBuddy sunset plans. Because of some technical glitches with Sametime on ISSI, and some accessibility issues, the "sunsetting" (I love that term... so peaceful, so final; going-going-gone ) of NotesBuddy has been delayed at least a week, and maybe longer.

      On a personal note, I have been selected for a resource action (lay off) after 33 years. This came out of left field for me. The Lotus team has been great in listening to ideas, and I can't fault them for not moving as fast as we had the freedom to do with NotesBuddy as a self-motivated side-project for Craig and myself. Craig will remain to bring the NB quality to the product, and because of that, I am hopeful. I leave behind a decent list of NB features still to make it to the outside world. Whether or not I should have physically moved will be revealed with time. I'm a short-timer now, and ironically may even leave before NotesBuddy does.

      I have had a lot of dealings with the CIO team that help maintain the servers. At times rolling out new NotesBuddy iterations was difficult (understatement), but looking back, the whole system improved because of it. Even the dichotomy of NotesBuddy and ICT (another IM client and set of people that moved to Lotus) improved the system. Many features from NotesBuddy influenced Sametime directly, and some indirectly through the adoption by our ICT colleagues. Both NotesBuddy and ICT are in the fabric of Sametime.

      Discussion of Sametime and NotesBuddy items takes place in the IBM forums, but I recognize that only a handful of you follow those. If you want to discuss performance or features or stay up to date on CIO actions, please look into that venue. I take a lot of pride in knowing that NotesBuddy helps make people feel that they communicate better, and that they "enjoy" using it; a sentiment rarely found in a business tool. I have had several other radical tools, such as the first popular IBM spell checking editor called PROOF, probably before your time (although the code and dictionaries still run today in Notes and Sametime), and in all cases, excellence and "delight" of the users were the goals.

      I have had a great ride at IBM, working on and/or managing popular commercial products, too. Most of all the people I worked with, locally and around the world, made my stay at IBM worthwhile. I feel very connected to the NotesBuddy community, and at times I felt like I knew all of you.

      Would you do me a big favor? Would you spend 4 minutes of your busy day and let me know how NotesBuddy affected your work or your life or your state of mind? Just a few sentences will do. And, as much as I would like to fix all the evils of the world, I can no longer impact the present or future of Sametime, so let's try to block those urges, just for the moment, OK?. Wouldn't it be nice to have a binder of positive notes I can look back upon 10 years later? If you feel inclined, you might even copy my manager(s).

      I hope you have as long and as great a time in IBM as I did. Keep innovation alive.

      All the best, Alan Tannenbaum.

  • General Visitor's Comment page:
    • Comment 11/08/07: Nick says either roll with the changes or leave. I don't understand this. I did roll with the changes. I helped train our new Indian team members and answered whatever questions I could for them. I was new to the team so I was learning too. The difference is i didn't get any training but when the Indian team started, my team lead had to organize all these training teleconferences. Then i was shown the door. I wasn't given a choice. Donofrio should have said, "deal with the fact that you WILL be outsourced and you WILL lose your job. He makes it sound like all us RA'd employees had some choice as to whether we accepted change within the company. I helped the Indian folks, I accepted it and I was still shown the door. So what the F Nick? -Anon-
    • Comment 11/08/07: IBM employees should embrace changes IBM makes and take action... If the change is detrimental to you, your family and co-workers, accept IBM changes as, SCAMS... Then make some charges of your own! Write a resume, work less and slower and don't just take it! Form a union at the least and keep your options open for work outside of iBM raw deals.. That how to embrace these IBM changes for the worst! -EmbraceThisIBM-
    • Comment 11/12/07: Donofrio says to embrace change. Well what has he done to CHANGE? He's the same 'ole stuffed shirt he always was. This is the same CTO that supposedly was "misquoted" in saying that"..there is no next big thing coming..so don't look for it.." So according to Mr. Nick don't look for a significant technology change. IBM now doesn't allow it's USA operations to compete in this so-called "global economy": designed, engineered, and rigged by these elitist, greedy, self-centered corporate executives. Donofrio: you wouldn't be in your current position if IBM wasn't successful due to it's USA operations but you conveniently forget this. Your job should be outsourced or sent overseas without you. Now that would be change! But of course you are adverse to this. -nicky_boy_blue-
    • Comment 11/12/07: "we can't out produce them so we gotta out think them" Another underhanded jab at the supposedly inferior American education system IBM and a bunch of corporate America wants everyone to believe. Hey, Nick which country still leads the world in patents and the subsequent inventions? China? I'll give you the answer you dope: the USA. So that means we still have highly educated people in this country but you and IBM will not recognize them anymore and prefer to hide behind cheap paid slave labor to make you fatter pigs than you already are. There is no level playing field in IBM in the USA anymore with this so-called "global economy". Donofrio is just another one of these pigs that sees to it. Nick Donofrio (this man is an American citizen still right?) your a f&^%ing LOSER! -Anonymous-
  • Pension Comments page
  • Raise and Salary Comments
    • Comment 11/14/07: Salary = 55K; Band Level = 6; Job Title = BRM Consultant; Years Service = 1; Hours/Week = 45-55; Div Name = GBS; Location = DC; Message = I HATE IBM and will be working for myself in less than two years. They can take their insulting 3% pay raises and long overdue promotions and shove them!!! -BloomS-
    • Comment 11/14/07: Salary = 72000; Band Level = 7; Job Title = Engineer in Development; Years Service = 2; Hours/Week = 40; Div Name = stg; Location = rtp; Message = Professional for nearly a decade. Wondering why IBM thinks that basing salaries on competitors' median payrolls a year prior does any good in terms of attracting and maintaining the industry's best talent. Anybody worth keeping does not strive to be paid the 50% percentile salary from the previous year... As a result, the turnover is beginning to increase. Management claims that an attrition rate of 2.5% is no big deal, but that is 25% higher than historical rates. -bigfoot-
  • PBC Comments
  • International Comments
Vault Message Board Posts:
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Vault's IBM Business Consulting Services message board is a popular hangout for IBM BCS employees, including many employees acquired from PwC. A few sample posts follow:

  • "No - do any of you people who reply actually work for IBM?" by "Scouter1". Full excerpt: Or do you make up things ? If you are a professional hire, unlikely you will be asked to relocate as a consultant - but here's the actual policy >>

    BCS United States Core Location Policy, Effective May 1, 2005 IBM Business Consulting Services is committed to creating a work environment that gives our practitioners flexibility and control, while at the same time enhancing productivity. We support flexible work options that allow our workforce to serve our clients and our business most effectively.

    Depending on their home location, mobile employees can face unique challenges with regard to client service, participation in company activities, and work-life balance. As such, we expect our mobile practitioners to live in locations that allow them to meet their client commitments, attend BCS business functions that necessitate on-site participation (such as proposal development, recruiting activities, and community-building events), and contain travel costs.

    The intention of this policy is to designate certain core cities where the majority of our business is conducted and our clients are located in the United States. Going forward, we expect practitioners in the BCS U.S. practice to live within a reasonable commuting distance of the designated cities listed in this document.

    Please note that we are not asking practitioners currently living outside of these areas to relocate (and we are not providing current employees with an IBM paid relocation package). Rather, current BCS U.S. employees should discuss any personal plans to move from their current home location with their managers to ensure that they will still be able to meet client and BCS business commitments, and also to discuss the impact to quality-of-life issues. The expectation is that moves would only be approved to areas around the designated cities; however, there may be limited exceptions due to personal issues, which will need second line manager approval.

    In addition, effective immediately, all new hires into the BCS U.S. practice must live within a reasonable commuting distance of the designated cites.

    The cities are: Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Cincinnati, OH; Columbus, OH; Cleveland, OH; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; Hartford, CT; Houston, TX; Kansas City, MO; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; Minneapolis, MN; New York City, NY and surrounding area; Philadelphia, PA; San Francisco, CA; Tulsa, OK; and Washington, DC.

  • "Other notable policies" by "Dose of reality". Full excerpt: File that one right between the article about "people are our most important assets", and "valuing peak performance". Shall we discuss the rather large chasm between the theory and practice of the evaluation system as well?

    I’ve hired a number of people in the hinterland, and have also moved a few to areas that are not on the official list. Like all processes here, this one is just intended to provide cover for ineptitude, in this case for recruiting and hiring managers who either have no juice, or no sense of their markets.

  • "Interesting policy" by "jaywalk". Full excerpt: I notice that the policy only dictates where employees can choose to live. Despite the hand-waving about work-life balance it doesn't say anything about actually assigning people anywhere near there home. It's been about two years since I've had a job near home even though I live close to one of their allegedly "core" cities. Including a coast-to-coast stint. If this policy is actually enforced, I haven't seen any sign of it.
  • "Thanks Frank. Missed that one" by "civilliberty". Full excerpt: "There are political realities in potential headlines about Australian jobs going offshore, but more and more business leaders and Australian workers understand that if we see a company announce that there's a couple of hundred jobs going to India, we should applaud that. That means a couple of hundred Australians can be upskilled, put in better jobs and have better longevity in the workforce."

    I haven't met an IT worker yet that's happy about having his/her job off-shored. As for upskilling those whose jobs have been moved off-shore - that's a highly unlikely practice within IBM. If it's being done, then there are 2 reasons for it:

    • Extreme scarcity of staff for roles - Australia is indeed running hot, but we're getting a lot of sub-standard IT resources from a certain part of the world which is flooding the market and bringing rates down.
    • They get resources doing work for the same pay , but at a higher level - a typical IBM approach.
    • There is one further reason behind the Australian government's reluctance to off-shore, and that's due to the rampant white-collar crime with respect to sensitive data, in that part of the world. But, Boreham won't tell you that, despite even the indian majors alluding to it.
  • "Pros and Cons of GBS" by "NYCIBMex". Full excerpt: I wanted to send out a balanced message, trying to point out some pros of working at IBM GBS. However, the culture really is much what is like described here. Dose has done a good job and is actually pretty balanced in his views. However, there are flashes of brilliance throughout, as in any organization. I was surprised to see how much of this depends on your manager and his or her interest in your career development.

    Pros:

    • Work/life balance better than other consulting firms. Fridays are very flexible and are usually at home days (depending on project though). Compared to other consulting firms, you won't find much better work/life balance than IBM.
    • People. There are some really smart and genuine people at IBM and most are not the arrogant type you will see at other more prestigious consulting firms. In fact, most of the smart people you meet at IBM are looking to get out. This allows some great future networking activities.
    • Resume builder. Believe it or not, IBM is a blue chip name with some nice resume appeal. Put in a few years here and most companies will look favorably on your resume. However, in the consulting arena, IBM's name is as great. The prestigious consulting firms (Bain, Mck, BCG) look down their nose at IBM and the Accentures of the world consider IBM to be at or below their level. Boutiques and Industry seem to look very favorably on the IBM name.
    • Training. Training is good compared to other companies. Again, this all depends on your manager and his ability to pull through for you.

    Cons:

    • Salary/Incentive Structure. This is the biggest problem at IBM. There is no use being a top performer at IBM as you will only see a 2% increase over everyone else. Until the salary/incentive structure changes to reward performance, IBM will continue to suffer high turnover and negative culture.
    • Bureaucracy; a 375k person company will have lots of bureaucracy. However, you wont believe the crap you have to fill out for "career development" - a PBC, PDFA, PA,..
    • Lack of Career Development. If you have a good manager, you can do okay here at IBM. If you do not, you will not have career development...period.
    • Negative Culture. Most of the performers at IBM are looking to get out. It is rare you find someone that is actually happy at IBM GBS. This will wear on your day-to-day and effects the GBS culture as a whole. Until the compensation structure is fixed, this will always be a problem at IBM.

    Bottom line. IBM is not as bad as some people point out. However, if you are a go getter, you will not be happy with IBM long term. Most go getters use IBM as a stepping stone and move onto better things...There is nothing wrong with this as you can meet some smart folks who are looking to do the same thing.

  • "A Slightly Different View" by "ancientblueconsultant". Full excerpt: I will agree with most of what you say, but will point out some discrepancies between your views and mine:

    Pros:

    • I'll agree that work/life balance at IBM is usually better than in the other big consulting firms, but it is not not as good as in many of the boutiques and mid-sized firms. Many boutiques offer much better work/life balance. Even Kennedy acknowledged that in their last issue.
    • Work/life balance also is high on the GBS executive and sales side, it declines quickly as you go into the lower ranks, delivery and other parts of IGS.
    • IBM has lots of smart people, but a ever smaller number of good people. There's a difference between a smart person and a good person. One has skill, the other has value. The highly touted over matrixed and over processed structure tends to retain smart people that have little regard for the humanistic parts of leadership and there is a penchant to skirt ethics at the higher levels. Most good employees quickly discover that the truth is never going to come from the words of the leadership but from the fine print of the lawyers. When trust breaks, the retention game is over and IBM management always seems to be able to do that well. Smart people tend to stay, good people (smart or otherwise) tend to leave.
    • I will contend the resume value varies by individual and area od endeavor. One of IBM's biggest failures in consulting was that they abandoned the growth of individuals in exchange for efficiency and specialization. Unless you selected as an ER and are moving up, you'll never get the responsibility and breadth necessary to make that resume entry valuable. The cachet also erodes the further you move away from technology.
    • On the training front, the emphasis to use on-line education has removed for many the most valuable part of learning - networking. The most valuable education for many is meeting others and learning from them. This is most true when attending classes with clients and competitors in multi-vendor educational settings.

    Cons:

    • The biggest cons for me aren't the pay, the culture or the bureaucracy. We'll gloss over the fact that IBM calls itself an industry, HCM, consulting, process and technology leader but can't even get final paychecks for employee severance straight...
    • No, my biggest con is that IBM views all its employees (especially GBS consultants) as resources, not assets. Human resources are to be processed, pigeonholed, specialized and monitored for retention, sickness, etc. When the ROI falls before a certain point, there is no chance for redemption and change, the only route for many is departure.
    • IBM is maybe not so bad, but it is so not ready for the emerging 21st century employee it's not funny.
  • "Vengeance is mine - thus saith the Lord" by "bluedngone". Full excerpt: It is not the vengeance angle that makes me feel better. It's just the pettiness of IBM to act like this. It gives one insight about the day to day insanity of being associated with such an unprofessional institution. While you are at IBM, you are supposed to support their core values and prostrate yourself whenever a customer situation dictates. Then when you get older, they drop your PBC rating to a 3 so you can be Resourced. Then finally when you are sitting in the manager's office in the exit interview, they make you sign a bunch of crap documents that you will repay IBM an moneys they may have overpaid you in your settlement checks. If you don't sign them, you will not get your settlement! Is that duress or not - you cannot consult an attorney. Even though you obstensively have the right to withdraw, it is still signed under duress.

    IBM with all their competence should be able to get your final pay correct. The fact that they come back after they made a mistake in your favor is hideous. If the mistake was in IBM's favor, you would have to sue to get it corrected. This is just a $100 Billion company once again trying to use their massive wealth and stature to intimidate the working stiff. It's how IBM has maintained employee discipline for decades no matter what any IBMer or former IBMer may say to the contrary.

    IBM would like to think they can act and behave like the US Govt. The US Govt can ask and assert a claim to get their money back. However IBM cannot. That is because the legislation for employee rights extends them that privilege. Those privileges do not extend to IBM as a private employer. Even then, the US Govt cannot trash your credit.

  • "Persistent Rumors" by "ancientblueconsultant". Full excerpt: Friends, There seems to be a set of very persistent rumors coming from a number of directions that parts of GBS and GTS are being sold off. A friend of mine pointed out to me that the Alliance union site ("Your Comments - Job Cuts" section) had some comments about some GTS units being sold off. Yesterday's WSJ had a very interesting article which in essence stated that Palmisano is turning its back on the services business, moving to hardware. Has anyone heard any more details? Comments?
  • "Correction" by "ancientblueconsultant". Full excerpt: I meant software, not hardware and although Palmisano does act like a machine without conscience, it's "his back" not "its back".
  • "Your observations..." by "wh1ppersnapper". Full excerpt: ...are consistent with the recent acquisition of Cognos. Also, with the squeeze on the sales folks wrt incentive plans - perhaps a means of thinning the ranks on account coverage, since there is overlap across the various divisions.
  • "Doubt it" by "MythAndMeaning". Full excerpt: I doubt it for a few reasons. First is the love of dollar signs - SP would hate to give away anything that fattens the top and bottom lines. That's just IBM corporate culture. Look at how much excitement there is (still) over the BTO deals that have huge contract numbers yet consistently lose money for IBM.

    Second is that services is a growth area for the business. Unfortunately growth has come by squeezing services pretty much dry: no investments, no funding to manage client relationships that lead to sales, no training for staff to grow needed skills. So growth may be stalled in services in futures quarters and years, which could argue for its sale.

    Finally, there is the belief that services helps sell software. Of course, they have no f'ing clue how to partner with services, but that's another story for another day.

  • "I see signals as well, ABC - Great Thread" by "Tweetie_Bird". Full excerpt: ABC, Now that I have recently become an executive at a client after being a competitor to GBS for a while, my perspective is a lot different. IBM places blinders on your vision of the market, that's for sure.

    I see similar subtle but clear signals of a change in IBM strategy and direction. Software is king and hardware and services are now the servants to software, getting little or no investment.

    There is a definite confusion at the channel level facing clients. For example, GTS offers AIX experts, but so does software group with their lab services.

    GBS offers PMs, but so does GTS and SWG lab services, and at different rates. Very confusing. One of my reports says it reminds him of the old IBM GSD-DPD-OPD days which eventually led to a massive reorganization and the selling off of several businesses (typewriters, printers, etc.)

    What most clients are wondering is that the primary market role of IGS (represented primarily by GTS and GBS) has become obsolete by the change in client buying patterns. IT is commoditizing so integration across vendors is becoming financially and functionally unattractive compared to complete suites from one vendor. Outsourcing is getting also commoditized by firms like Wipro, which I hired and found pretty good so far for niche or vertical solutions to problems.

    There is a definite duplication in the channel which dilutes quality of the IBM client buying experience and the delivery of what we want done as clients.

    What's interesting is that HP doesn't seem to have this problem, and I can't understand why it doesn't. Maybe it's a local team thing I see. I see a massive restructuring coming at the expense of GBS and GTS.

  • "GBS Public Sector Laying off" by "bluedngone". Full excerpt: It was announced on the IBM Alliance web site. The are laying off in the GBS public sector as well as ISC Rochester. Last day is Dec 15. Looks like the chickens are coming home to roost.
  • "More Signals" by "Frank_Reality". Full excerpt: One of the key signals has been the headcount cuts/resource reductions due to IBM's (anti)LEAN implementation. So many resource reductions such that clients have been hurt and fines paid out because the contracted service objectives weren't met.

    It's the same approach IBM and Moffat used for the sale of the PC business - gut the workforce, make the division look efficient and then sell it off.

  • "Yes, Mr. ABC" by "wonderaboutibm". Full excerpt: Once upon a time, IBM was, in the words of its mucky-mucks, "services-led." It was the way to the client's heart, or in Dose's more cynical rendition, it was the loss leader for where the real money was. After all, the systems and software groups had much higher gross margins.

    Speaking of these gross margins, even in the days of services lionization, they were always MUCH higher for the other divisions. So, I always suspected that someday, services would not remain the apple in the executives' eyes. Now the wheel has turned. "Services-led" joins "on-demand" and other brilliant jargon in the dustbin.

    Yes, the money is in software. And yes, the services units will be roughed up a lot. But IBM still needs its loss leader, its integrator. So it has to do something smart before the whole services contraption falls apart. Already we see serious fraying around the edges -- the loss of technical talent in the US is approaching frightening levels, large numbers of SO accounts are bleeding huge amounts of money, HP has twice the revenue per employee that IBM does, etc. But all SP and friends have to do is to hold on a little longer ... then it won't be their problem.

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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