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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—June 7, 2014


    The Register:

    SEC: We won't slap IBM over its cloud revenue reporting. Nothing to see here, says Big Blue - and regulator agrees. By Brid-Aine Parnell. Excerpts: IBM has announced that it has avoided any regulatory action over the way it reports its revenues from cloud computing after the US Securities and Exchange Commission completed its investigation.

    The company said in a filing that it had been notified that the market authority wasn’t planning any action over its cloud business.

    “Based on the information to date, the Division of Enforcement does not intend to recommend any enforcement action by the Commission against IBM,” it said.

    Big Blue said last summer that the SEC was probing its cloud division, although neither the firm nor the authority revealed exactly what aspects of the way it was reporting its financial results the commission was looking into.

  • BusinessWeek:

    The Trouble With IBM. By Nick Summers. Note: This article was summarized in May 24th's highlights. Additional reader comments for the article are in the May 31st highlights. Since May 31, the following additional comments have been posted for the BusinessWeek article:

    • I was with IBM for 30 years. I saw its peak, and witnessed its decline. It rose, when one could equate "IBM" with the concept of "TRUST". Customers could trust that they would never be disappointed in their purchase decisions. Users could trust that the systems would be consistently available, dependable and reliable. Stockholders could trust that their investment was secure - retirees could trust that their senior years would be protected. Employees loved the company, as did customers, as did stockholders.

      All of this was possible because the employees could trust the company to never ask them to compromise integrity, innovation, design, or quality. They would not be asked to forfeit the customer's faith, hence the stockholders equity. Employees could trust that they would never be treated unfairly, or arbitrarily, or without respect. If you worked for IBM, you knew this, because the company had "basic beliefs": clearly stated as a commitment to everyone that trusted the company. EVERYONE! It was family! You trusted family.

      I am so tired of hearing how Gerstner saved the company; he did not! He trashed those sacred basic beliefs. IBM stopped being exceptional. Key employees left for competitors. Critical skills were lost as thousands were arbitrarily separated. Product plans and quality fell through the cracks. Customers were disappointed. Trust evaporated.

      Gerstner spent that trust, especially with employees, to gain a temporary advantage in stock value. In the process, Gerstner destroyed an esprit de corps that had driven the company’s long term success for nearly a century. Once squandered, it can never be recovered. Today, with every relationship that IBM once enjoyed, "Trust" has been replaced with "Temporary".

      That interdependent exchange of commitment between all parties - that had taken decades to establish, was extinguished in only a few months. Leadership became all about 90-day cost decisions. AND - When Gerstner left, he took a bonus that was comparable to all that he had saved the stockholders. The net gain was null, the damage lasting, the legacy subtly eroding the brand equity of the IBM name over time.

      No wonder - no one "trusts" IBM anymore.

  • I, Cringely:

    The Decline and Fall of IBM. By Robert Cringely. Excerpts: The story of this book began in the summer of 2007 when I was shooting a TV documentary called The Transformation Age – Surviving a Technology Revolution, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Rochester has two main employers, Mayo and IBM, and a reporter can’t spend several days in town without hearing a lot about both. What I heard about IBM was very disturbing. Huge layoffs were coming as IBM tried to transfer much of its U.S. services business directly to lower-cost countries like India and Argentina. It felt to me like a step down in customer service, and from what I heard the IBMers weren’t being treated well either. And yet there was nothing about it even in the local press. ...

    Starting in 2007, during that trip to Minnesota, I saw troubling things at IBM. I saw the company changing, and not for the better. I saw the people of IBM (they are actually called “resources”) beginning to lose faith in their company and starting to panic. I wrote story after story, and IBM workers called or wrote me, both to confirm my fears and to give me even more material.

    Editor's note: In addition to Mr. Cringely's newly published book, he has posted several articles concerning IBM, including the following:

  • Selected reader comments concerning Mr. Cringely's announcement of his new book follow:

    • BTW, Bob … In Chapter 10 you point out: “IBM could … just become irrelevant.” As someone who is paid top dollar to advise CIOs and Operations executives at many of the world’s largest companies, I can say with assurance that in many respects, they already are. So seldom do I hear Big Blue discussed in companies’ IT strategies and plans that the answer to why more aren’t complaining about poor performance is self-evident: they’ve already down-selected IBM and don’t give it a second thought.
    • I saw that it was available on Hacker News and immediately purchased a copy. So far I’m loving it. Good job Robert X., and congratulations on making the transition to being an independent author!
    • I am up to Chapter 3. First impression: “Oh Wow!” . If this doesn’t get the world’s attention, nothing will.
    • Purchased, and looking forwards to reading it over the coming days. Congratulations on getting it finished and out; I don’t think you’ll have any issues hitting 100,000. Every IBMer owes it to themselves to read it – that should take you over several times on its own.
    • Bought in a click. As an IBMer, I feel the impending doom, and I’m looking forward to the explanation.
    • I just finished reading the book. I am going to reread it a few more times. There is much to absorb and contemplate. This book should be required reading for everyone in business school, on Wall Street, in the financial press, and in the US Congress.

      The purpose of a company cannot be solely focused on the shareholder and at the expense of everything else. There must be a balance in the values and goals of a company. To manage a company to the detriment of 100,000′s of workers, to cheat customers who are the biggest companies in the world, and to cause harm to society is simply not acceptable.

      There is only one way such a strategy will end — very badly. I sincerely hope this book will open some eyes and minds. Thank you Bob!

    • “Shareholder value” is just code for “C-Suite Looting”.
    • Can’t comment on the book because I haven’t read it but I can tell you as a ‘customer’ that IBM is definitely headed for a water landing. Whether it will sink is the only question.

      I manage a team that uses one of IBM's more profitable tools and run it on their hardware. We are overrun by IBM resellers (‘consultants’ that get kickbacks when you buy stuff from IBM.) We are contractually required to run license manager software that eats up computer resources and requires us to purchase even more computers from IBM. If that weren’t bad enough, all the licensing is based on CPUs and you don’t get a discount for what these license managers eat (10 -25% on a bad day.)

      It might be OK if the software wasn’t the most unreliable, outdated piece of crap I’ve ever had to deal with in the 15 years I’ve been in software development/IT.

      Look at the April edition of Bloomberg Businessweek if you don’t think IBM is done. The CIA gave Amazon a contract in 2013 to build them a cloud when IBM bid at one-third the price. IBM sued and a federal court said not that IBM had “no chance of winning” the contract. This is codified in the federal court record.

      Even if you’ve lost money on IBM you should sell now. It’s not going to get better. My main focus is to get our software off of IBM tools ASAP. Any sane, competent IT manager is planning to do the same.

    • Ordered a copy and can’t wait to dig in. Having been laid off from IBM 3 times in the past 12 years, I will recommend to every future employer to stay away from the “Titanic of Technology” and to get out of any contracts ASAP.
    • Congratulations. A worthwhile read. The first wave of what surely will be a tsunami of books that will finally bury this nest of snakes who have misled so many good technologists and business people (including destroying the lives of many good employees) for decades. Their end is near.
    • I haven’t read yet. But I hope you also covered how crappy the IBM software products are, how difficult is to install them, how non-integrated they are, and how nobody gives a shit about this defect-by-design because they are sales people who don’t care about technology or the products they sell, they just care about selling it.
    • Thanks Bob, look forward to finding the epub on Google Play.

      As a former multi-decade IBMer who saw the handwriting on the wall and finally found a new gig, I could completely relate to the letter you quote in the introduction. All of it is spot on and exactly how I felt for quite a few years before I exited stage left. I simply could not, in good faith, work for these people anymore.

      As a seasoned I/T practitioner, I knew I had to get out before some bozo bean-counter in Armonk eventually came after me. The joke of it was when I turned in my 2-week notice, an executive in my reporting chain had the nerve to call me and ask ‘did we do anything to run you off?’ I just laughed at him on the phone realizing how insulated and out of touch these pukes had become.

      I humorously banter with I/T friends and colleagues that my new job mission can best be described by respectfully borrowing a famous quote from the movie ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, it goes something like this:

      My new job is to replace IBM servers with Dell and HP. I am replacing IBM storage units with EMC Symmetrix machines, IBM automated tape libraries with HP Everstore. When all the big-blue equipment is gone, we’ll take all the dusty IBM manuals out in the back yard and build us a big bond fire, we’ll dance around the fire like a bunch of wild maniacs, they’ll see the smoke for miles. And when nothing even remotely related to IBM is left in the facility, our (former) IBM rep will feel like he’s been fu.ked by a train.

      Nice job IBM senior leadership, you deserve it.

    • Exactly! Do they not realize that hundreds of us smart, dedicated, high-performing, 52 year old software development managers, suddenly fired, while putting children through college, unable to retire on our decimated cash balance pensions, will not be inclined to use our influence to benefit IBM in our future positions with other employers?
    • Procured and read yesterday – all I can say is my multi-year career in SO delivery eerily echoed in each word. Nice Job!
    • Anyone who has worked with IBM knows they are nothing but a body shop now. They still charge high prices but they bring in people for other countries who know nothing but are cheap to IBM. I have worked at many high profile companies cleaning up IBM’s messes and and doing so now at yet another one. Buying the book.
    • Having departed there recently and landing on a soft spot outside I look forward to this read. This year is the first time in many that I have not had to focus on “lifeboat drills”, “bell curve ratings” along with umpteen other buzzwords all coined around “doing more with less”. I often joke about internal policies that would allow one to send a big mainframe across the country or around the world overnight with a single phone call, but ordering a set of business cards required written approval from 4 levels of management and takes 4-6 weeks to approve. Unfortunately, it’s not a joke and applicable to much more than business cards.

      Successful products when they do happen to come along (Printers, DB2, Websphere, DS8000, SVC etc) aren’t invested in or grown. Instead they are constantly “trimmed” to make them more efficient. Tons of $$ is poured into losing propositions whether they be ill thought out acquisitions (not going to mention any names here, but it’s not a short list) or in house idea’s that failed iteration after iteration (NAS).

      I could go on for days, but then you wouldn’t be reading Bob’s book, so I’ll stop now and go buy it like everyone else should.

    • It was a Great read, Bob. I personally don’t see how IBM can be turned around without casting off at least two-thirds of their entire executive, management, and sales force. Their arrogance and insufferable attitudes are incompatible with proper business functioning. Goodbye to them.

      I’ve always assumed that this nonsense about putting shareholder value first was really all about stock options for the big boys. If you don’t put customer value first, you usually don’t have a viable business.

      Thanks again for a great eBook, Bob.

    • I’m an IBM employee in Australia. I’ve bought the book and look forward to finish reading it within a week.

      Last year we had horrible retrenchments, lots of people were let go (both the good and the mediocre). One of the key problems IBM faces here seems to be how to make a profit from massive outsourcing to low cost countries whilst maintaining quality and client satisfaction. Project targets such as 80% offshore, 20% onshore delivery models are common, not necessarily because we know this is a great formula, but because the demands of customers and competitors push the price down in order to win contracts.

      I hear a lot of comments within management circles about “if Infosys (or insert competitor name) can do it then why can’t we?” Reality is, in today’s globalised market, having a large onshore contingent means making losses or no contract wins and then inevitable retrenchment.

      I hope the book addresses this issue and attempts to provide some solutions.

    • Bob, sadly there is no chance anything will change as a result of you insightful account. The rot set in decades back. Those of us around long enough to have seen transition from the Watson era through to the Palmisano era deluded ourselves about what we were seeing for far too long.

      I recall as long ago as the 1980s an experienced manager from another organisation shadowing me for a week as part of an national industry programme. When asked her view of IBM she said -”Karl Marx would be delighted – it is the best example of a command and control economy I have ever seen!”

      And, pretty much like the other examples, it is imploding because it is too attached to dogma, benefiting only those at the top and bullying and screwing the rest.

      Today I still have direct dealing with IBM and can attest that there are great people there – but massively demoralised and unmotivated; there is real intent and desire at the “worker bee” level to do the right thing by the customer – suppressed and frustrated by the choking and repressive management system and bureaucracy.

      Even the best people I know there are cowed into self preservation as their primary motivation. We will all know IBM is finally going over the edge when Warren Buffet sells his stake. Bear in mind that he usually invests only in industries he understands, but admits to not understanding technology. What he does understand is financial manipulation and has seen that he can do nicely out of IBM on that basis alone – for a limited time.

    • Very interesting read about IBM! Bob, one thing you didn’t seem to touch on is the rot and fraud going on at IBM Research. Basically, the incompetent executives in IBM Research, with blessings from Ginni and Palmisano before her, have found a way to make IBM Research the biggest welfare receiver from the US Federal Government. Almost everybody at IBM Research today is being paid by some sort of DARPA, NSA, DoD, etc sponsored project funding.

      Now, to the average American looking in, one would think these so-called great minds are doing a service to this country. However, if you are inside there, you know that most of these proposals that are funded by the US govt do not really achieve anything for the nation. Instead, it has become IBM’s way of using the gov’t funding to do their own R&D.

      The IBM Research employees working on govt funded projects are required to keep time sheets on the actual time they work on these projects. IBM needs for the employees to bat more hours so that they can recover most of the funding. And this is where the other end of the fraud happens. Basically, employees are encouraged to bill all their hours to the projects, even if they didn’t do any work. It is really sad what is going in on there.

      If most Americans know what IBM Researchers are doing here, they would ban IBM from getting any funds from the govt for any research work. The stupid executives at IBM Research have succeeded to transform the place to the abode of the fraudulent welfare queen!

    • Research has had a “self funding” mandate for a few years. Blue or internal money (joint projects) is in short supply and can be, and is cut without notice. As a results project have to go for external funding = real dollars. Ginni’s talk about the billions that go to research are a farce, money is spent opening new centers globally just to wave the IBM flag to countries. Actual budgets are zero for HW, SW, travel.

      Time cards have been an issue for a long time. Employees are told to put in hours using creative covers. The same employees can be billed to customers for joint studies such that the same individual generates 2, 3, 4X real dollars. This is spread to others that are not covered by joint studies.

      There are managers that spend over 60% of their time on the road – (drumming up business comes out of another budget bin) so they are not available to actually manage.

      Employee wise, there has been such a drain of people leaving, most of the H1B visa holders Research gets are Chinese National PhD’s to the extent that over 85% of new hires are from there. One wonders how much IBM and US technology goes out the door because of that? It would be a good expose what goes on Bob.

    • From the introduction, and some of your related articles, I probably could have written a big chunk of the book myself. Having suffered with IBM (not on purpose, we were an acquisition) since early 2000, until recently, when I fell victim to the most recent culling, er, I mean layoff, no, wait, resource action. They’ve been hollowing out the guts of the company for decades in the name of the bottom line, and, from where I stood, there’s very little technology left in that company, and acquiring other companies (and hollowing THEM out, etc) is not going to fix it.

      I don’t know if I’ll read your book, as it may be too depressing and maddening at the same time, but I’m really glad it’s out there. Thanks for that!

  • Bloomberg BusinessWeek:

    HP and IBM List North Korea as a Supplier in Conflict-Mineral Reports. By Ian King. Excerpts: A new rule requiring U.S. companies to report information about their suppliers was designed to discourage them from doing business with mines controlled by armed thugs in Africa. But the conflict-mineral filings show a startling trend happening in another continent.

    Among the 1,277 U.S. companies that reported before yesterday's deadline, 68 listed the Central Bank of the DPRK in their filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea — as in North Korea, as in the country run by a 31-year-old dictator who had his uncle killed last year just to prove a point. The U.S. has had economic sanctions against North Korea since 1950, and the United Nations maintains sanctions of its own to deter further development of nuclear weapons there.

    Claigan Environmental, a corporate-compliance firm, compiled the data showing dozens of companies listing North Korea's central bank as a supplier and shared its findings with Bloomberg. International Business Machines and Hewlett-Packard were among those reporting that North Korea was in their supply chain. ...

    IBM's filing said North Korea processed gold that may be used in its products. Douglas Shelton, a spokesman for the company, declined to comment, saying only that IBM expects suppliers to "procure minerals from responsible sources." ...

    Many companies took advantage of a two-year window allowing them to tell the SEC they don't know whether they have conflict minerals in their products. The biggest exceptions are Intel and Apple, which have been at the forefront of investigating and reporting on their supply chains, according to Calder. HP has also been known as a leader in this space, but the surprise from North Korea shows just how difficult it is to get a full picture into the supply chain.

  • The Hindu (India):

    U.S tech worker groups boycott Infy, IBM and Manpower. By Deepa Kurup. Excerpts: Three U.S.-based tech worker groups announced, on Tuesday, a labour boycott of three global tech biggies, IBM, Infosys and Manpower. Their joint petition, calling for a boycott, alleges that these companies have been indulging in discriminatory employment practices that “exclude U.S. workers from job openings in U.S. soil”. ...

    The paper, authored by Donna Conroy, director of Bright Future Jobs, collates all references of advertisements that single out Indian software workers and H1-B holders for tech jobs. According to the petition, ads posted on Indian job portals between October and December 2013, were at least one year ahead of possible employment dates with some job requirements dated as late as March 2015. “They didn't give U.S. workers a chance. They are still doing this,” the petition said, referring to Manpower. The petition demands that the three companies start accepting applications from “qualified Americans in a fair and ethical way”.

  • ZD-Net:

    China's Inspur vows to take over IBM’s local business. Inspur Group Ltd, a Chinese domestic server maker, says 80 ex-IBM employees have joined after it recently started a campaign to lure customers from Big Blue. Excerpts: Late last week the Chinese server business unveiled its “IBM to Inspur” initiative in Jinan, Shandong province, vowing to take over IBM’s server business in the country after reports indicated China's government has banned local banks from using IBM servers due to security concerns.

    On Thursday, Inspur told Chinese media the company is ready to “comprehensively” take over IBM’s server business in China. Some 80 IBM former employees have already joined Inspur, according to the company. ...

    Inspur’s vice president Zuo Baichen said its server and minicomputer products now have the ability to fully usurp IBM's traditional position. The company has also strengthened after recruiting a large number of professionals from IBM and other foreign server vendors.

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • “Great and Bad”

      Anonymous Employee (Current Employee).

      Pros: Great opportunities to take your capabilities to the next level. Opportunities to win Hundred Percent Club. Easy access to 400,000 super employees. Watson is the #1 Game-Changer for IBM.

      Cons: Little to no training (except online boring courses). All perks/benefits have been slowly removed over the last 10 years. Most people just sit at home and work from home since IBM is eliminating work office sites. All meetings are by conference call. Can't travel because of expense tracking. Pay and bonus have suffered.

      Advice to Senior Management: Quit being stingy with storage and give every single employee at least 1 TB to work with in the IBM Cloud instead of everyone being in Mail Jail weekly because of a 100MB or 250MB limit.

      Bring back the incentives and perks to entice new people to stay longer. Of course the long timers will stay but there is a high turnover with new timers.

      Don't forget about "Services". Cloud is not the #1 future of IBM as all the EVP and SVP are drilling in our heads. Once a customer has Cloud then what? He/She will still need Services.

    • “Elephants can dance indeed, however it requires truckloads of peanuts to make them!”

      Client Manager (Former Employee), London, England (UK).

      Pros: Good company to work for if you are lucky enough to land the right job with the right manager. Reasonable opportunities to grow your career, but you have to absolutely drive it yourself. Great education programs, and great products.

      Cons: As with any any corporate, it can sometimes be frustrating dealing with internal politics. IBM is a big company and finding the right people or tools or help to get the job done can take up huge chunks of unproductive time! Starting salaries are OKish...however you will find that after some years in the job the increases in salary are very minimal and are no where near the market standards. Which has cost IBM dearly over the years as it has lost a lot talented people to competitors.

      Advice to Senior Management: Get your operational processes in order! I'm astounded by the amount of complex processes employees have to follow, to get simple things done total waste of productivity.

    • “Transition”

      Finance Manager (Current Employee), Somers, NY. Pros: Smart people, challenging work environment. Tend to promote work life balance, but difficult to achieve in most roles. Lots of opportunity for job rotations. Cons: Pay programs and benefits seem to erode each year and the employee morale has hit new lows at many locations. Advice to Senior Management: Differentiated pay for performance.
    • “IBM review”

      Systems Analyst (Current Employee). Pros: Salary, company name recognition, technically challenging work. Cons: There are few cons that i can think of. Positive and diverse, inclusive environment, much better to work in than say "Walmart", LOL.
    • “What you would expect. No more and no less”

      Anonymous Employee (Current Employee).

      Pros: Huge network of opportunists. Veterans to server as mentors; a big company to put on your resume and you can transfer to other departments, countries and subsidiaries for upward career trajectory.

      Cons: This is an old company with old people. Tons of complacency. Slow to adapt and extremely reactionary. The company is attempting to be agile, but is just too darn big and cumbersome to do anything quickly. Small tasks take forever to complete because of antiquated systems that create unneeded bureaucracy and overhead.

      Advice to Senior Management: Cut the clutter, shift towards meritocracy and reward employees.

    • “You're a number and a resource, not a human”

      Technical Solutions Manager (Former Employee), Raleigh, NC. Pros: Big company, good benefits, lots of variety in positions. Cons: Crap salaries and everyone is a number or a "resource"; makes them feel better when they do a 'resource action' AKA firing thousands of people at a time. Advice to Senior Management: Stop letting finance run the company.
    • “I work on a good product in a very good team”

      Senior Software Engineer (Current Employee), Research Triangle Park, NC.

      Pros: I'm well paid. I get to work from home. The people I work for are great. I get to work on new cloud platforms, which requires constantly learning new skills. I have a good work/life balance. IBM is a big company so I can move around to another team if I ever get bored working on this one. I have a good health plan.

      Cons: The switch from matching 401K contributions from each pay period to one lump sum at the end of the year was really annoying.

      Advice to Senior Management: I hope the run up to Road Kill 2015 does not distract from the momentum building in cloud.

    • “Working at IBM...”

      Equipment Engineer (Current Employee), Essex, VT. Pros: It looks great on a resume (I hope!) Tons of incredibly smart people around—you learn A LOT while working there. Great work/life balance. Cons: People constantly tell me to get a job somewhere else. The hardware business is not stable and can be stressful to work at when you could get laid off/sold any day. Advice to Senior Management: I'm not sure any advice to upper management would help at this point. Sell us and get it over with!
    • “It's Bland Man and Culture Challenged.”

      Mainframe Analyst (Former Employee), East Lansing, MI.

      Pros: Free parking and being in low traffic location.

      Cons: Besides the low pay, this offshore "answer" ends up being the mojo contributing to a culture that exemplifies the many absurdities that might be found in a Dilbert cartoon (i.e., on demand seating policy at this facility for instance). It's Beige Man, in not only the physical surroundings, but in the energy, the vibe, the leadership/management of people. Creative, Innovative, and status-quo challengers will find it stifling and consistent with the same ole' lumbering bureaucracy where people are just numbers to be manipulated.

      Advice to Senior Management: Re-think...even revolutionize what being an offshore answer means. It doesn't have to mean "cheap" and bland and perpetuating silly and outdated measures of success. Go for bold. Rebuild around a client focus (internal and external) that captures the imagination. Imagine Being Magnificent and gain a success that is far greater than your current 2-star rating.

    • “Mediocre”

      Anonymous Employee (Former Employee).

      Pros: If you're looking into just floating around, then you might enjoy your time here because they are very lenient with tardiness/absence/leaves. They pay enough for you to live. So if you're not looking for career growth, learning, and relevance, then IBM is not that bad.

      Cons: The company does not know how to:

      • strategize
      • measure results
      • identify top performers
      • keep talented people
      • reward good performance
      • create efficient process
      • create/implement an unbiased and structured policy

      Advice to Senior Management: Know the difference between cost cutting and revenue generating. Identify your long-term goal. Learn how to motivate people and keep good talent.

    • “Job outsourced to Mexico”

      Accounts Receivable (Current Employee), Chicago, IL. Pros: Working remotely and good benefits. Cons: Being part of Big Blue and being just a number.
    • “Vibrant, challenging but ultimately invaluable introduction to the life of a technology consultant”

      Industrial Trainee (Current Employee), London, England (UK). Pros: The work was challenging and the training opportunities bountiful. Cons: Hard to handle a crash course in politics with the PDA (HR) Managers. Advice to Senior Management: Be more transparent in your assessment of trainees; if there is a ranking system admit it!
    • “IBM GTS Service Delivery Centers experiencing growing pains”

      Advisory Project Manager (Former Employee), Columbia, MO.

      Pros: Broad growth opportunities provided you work 2 years in the brick and mortar building first. Numerous opportunities to learn from other PMs with similar projects.

      Cons: Very few legacy IBM employees transferred to the new Service Delivery Center in Columbia. The "true" IBM culture is being lost. Some managers are focused on "filling seats" to meet their short-term goals rather than bringing in tier-1 talent. One second line managers came into the center without previous IT experience. Pay-rate is among the lowest in the US for a PM.

      Advice to Senior Management: Stop trying to pay bottom dollar for top tier talent.

    • “Not fulfilling, but if you need to work from home or need the money it's good.”

      Web Developer (Current Employee), Austin, TX.

      Pros: There are some great people and forward thinkers if you can find them. Opportunities to work from home.

      Cons: Your quality of work does not matter. It's all a numbers game.

      Advice to Senior Management: Invest in people that do quality work. Cogs in the machine don't grow a company long term.

    • “Once was a great company to work for. Now not so much.”

      Senior Project Manager (Former Employee), Research Triangle Park, NC.

      Pros: Great benefits. Competitive salaries. Many work from home positions. Quality professionals to work with, for the most part. Many opportunities available if your manager will let you pursue them.

      Cons: Company-wide "respect for the individual" is gone. Decisions (including forced weekend work) are now driven mostly by meeting financial goals and quarterly executive measurements. Primary corporate focus now seems to be meeting an advertised 2015 earnings per share at any cost, it seems. Therefore, frequent large layoffs and common.

      Advice to Senior Management: Bring some of that IBM-unique respect back to your individual employees.

    • “I've learned a lot because of hands on experience.”

      Customer Support Engineer (Former Employee), Smyrna, GA. Pros: Having the equipment available for self development. Cons: Too much micro management. It seemed that the management is concerned about the inbound call volume than to fix the customer problems. Advice to Senior Management: People will do their best work when they are not micro managed.
    • “The IBM way”

      Anonymous Employee (Current Employee).

      Pros: Working remotely is the biggest plus if you're fortunate and the pay is pretty good if you were an acquisition. If you can handle the almost government like atmosphere, then this is a good place to stay until you retire.

      Cons: Too hard to put into words, but it's a pretty suffocating environment. They churn out too many people that are zombie-like in their approach to everything. Oh, and there's a metric for metrics, so have fun doing everything more than once just to make your FLM happy. It's too big of a company where in-fighting happens way too often, it lacks a "one team" feel.

      Advice to Senior Management: IBM needs to understand that not everyone expects to take their work home with them everyday.

    • “It was good”

      Staff Software Engineer (Current Employee), East Lansing, MI. Pros: Decent pay, smart co-workers, paid sick/vacation time. Cons: Rare pay increase, repetitive work. Managers are clueless as to what the engineers are doing. Advice to Senior Management: Hire younger managers. Technology such as web development, mobile development, etc. is land of the new younger generation...not the old robotic electrical engineers.
    • “Two cultures, Services and Product. Product people have been there for years and will probably never leave.”

      Product Manager (Former Employee). Pros: Can get lost in the shuffle. Good place to hide. Cons: Lost its muscle with cuts. Trying to stay afloat while pivoting towards Services.
    • “Great company to work. You will get to work with top notch engineers, architect”

      Advisory Software Engineer (Former Employee), Littleton, MA. Pros: You will learn from from the best engineer, architect in the field. Cons: Too much back stabbing, cut throat, no work-life balance. Advice to Senior Management: Take responsibility for your own mistakes. Don't put blame on your direct reports. Also, a lot of people are dissatisfied with the treatment. Encourage people and give them reason why they enjoy waking up in the morning and come to work for you.
    • “Solid company diminishing US base”

      Physical Design Engineer (Current Employee), Austin, TX. Pros: The team members and technical projects available. Although morale has been very low for years the staff and team is great. Continued leadership in technology. Cons: Work-life balance in order to succeed. IBM has changed dramatically over the years and politics play a major role in career. Technical people should drive technical decisions. Advice to Senior Management: Reduce PowerPoint engineers and reward folks for technical accomplishments.
    • “Years of cut cut cut have left many loyal employees disillusioned.”

      Anonymous Employee (Current Employee). Pros: Work-life balance to a degree is reasonable with opportunity to work from home however comes at a price! Cons: Pay significantly below market rate and no longer invest in people and career. Advice to Senior Management: Stop alienating your employees with the seemingly endless threat of constructive dismissal (aka the PBC process).
    • “Ups and downs”

      Anonymous Employee (Current Employee).

      Pros: There are a million things you can do in IBM, and they'll help you learn new skills or give you the opportunity to do something really cool. You really have to make something of it yourself, no one's going to give you anything.

      Cons: Politics. So much bureaucracy that you spend 85% of your life dealing with that instead of what's actually important. Management manages to numbers instead of asking, "does this actually matter?" Only business goal is a stock price. They've lost track of what made them great, the people. The culture isn't fun for 95% of IBM; it's all about the dollar.

    • “The best of times, the worst of times.”

      IT Specialist (Former Employee), Boulder, CO.

      Pros: You're working for an industry leader in their field. There is something to be said about that. I love telling people I used to work for companies they've heard of. It also gives you some credibility in the industry as well.

      Cons: So many layers of management that decisions are made by people who seriously don't understand anything they are managing. They also do not value the individual; everything is team or group based. While teams are important, everyone knows there is usually a "QB" or "Captain", and IBM does not really acknowledge this at an institutional level.

      Advice to Senior Management: Recognize that while process and procedures are important, individual super heroes often save the day. If IT was so easy that you could "assembly-line" it, no one would need your services.

    • “They never miss a chance to show incompetency”

      Associate Project Manager (Current Employee), Brno (Czech Republic). Pros: Home office is allowed every week. Cons: All bonus have been cut. Salary are well know 50% lower than competitor. No budget for education. Mastodontic bureaucracy. Incompetent management. Advice to Senior Management: Rebuild from scratch.
  • Glassdoor IBM Canada reviews
  • Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert. This week's topics include:
    • GOP Calls for Repeal of Affordable Care Act Are Fading Fast
    • The Alliance Submits Statement on “Observation Status” to Congress
    • Sen. Bernie Sanders Introduces Proposal to Overhaul VA
    • 2,000 Detroit Pensioners Will Revote After Receiving Inaccurate Bankruptcy Ballots
    • Reps. Cole, Delaney Propose Bipartisan Commission to Improve Social Security
    • Report Ranks Minnesota Healthiest State for Retirees
New on the Alliance@IBM Site

Job Cut Reports

  • Comment 06/3/14:

    I talk to a guy from a local institutions. He mentioned where they did a POC with IBM for some software. It all went well until.. IBM presented the institution with the final contract. The contract apparently put in clauses that increases the TCO over 5 years. The institution contracts guy was pissed for this slight of hand by IBM. He immediately terminated the relationship with IBM. Dupe the customer for more money to give to shareholders.. That ought to work well long term! -contract-
  • Comment 06/3/14:

    In NY State, IBM lists available jobs, but they are all bogus (except the ones in nanotech perhaps). A few jobs look like the one I had before RA. In fact, one was probably my actual job assignment! Of course these bogus employment postings are not challenged by NY State or the NY Dept. of Labor for PILOT, tax breaks, and job creation initiatives. Some job postings, like in the NY Times, Gannett group newspapers, are almost a column long of job qualifications and descriptive duties making it clear no one could possibly have all the requirements for the IBM job. So IBM uses this to lobby for more H1B visas since all IT workers in USA are 'under qualified' in IBM's very cataract-ed eyes. -I don't buy it either-
  • Comment 06/3/14:

    An interesting document is floating around for what is to come after Roadmap 2015. It's titled "Yellow Brick Road 2020". -Gone-
  • Comment 06/3/14:

    Per Forbes, "critics point to Palmisano's exit package from IBM, enabling him to clear an estimated $225 million, including all the options, restricted stock, pensions, deferred compensation, bells and whistles." The crook (Sammy) walks away with millions from IBM, while he, Ginny, and Louie continue to cut back pensions, benefits, salaries, and retirement health insurance on the backs of hardworking IBMers. IBM employees need an employee union contract to stop this greed and corruption. It's too bad Sam, Louie, and Ginny are hiding from the IBM employees. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered from these three CEOs. -ANA-
  • Comment 06/4/14:

    Regarding job postings. One was created specifically for me to back fill. I applied, did not hear back, pressed the issue and was told it "was filled". Not possible, the position was for specific skills and could not legally be filled by an offshored person. Later I was told the listing was pro-forma, That in reality there was no money to fill it. -anon-
  • Comment 06/5/14:

    In re: -I don't believe it either-: Those long job ads are called tombstone ads. It means the IBM manager has already selected a foreign person to hire. Then the manager draws up a job description that is entirely based on the prospective hires education and resume. So only one person can possibly meet the requirement. Legal taught us to do this back when I was hiring in the 90's. Then HR does the paperwork to the government to prove that since on one else applied for the job IBM is forced to hire the foreign national.

    If someone does apply for one of those jobs the manager has to review the resume and qualifications and perhaps interview him, then write an explanation of why he wasn't qualified. So if you want to have some fun, have friends and family apply for those jobs. The company can't ignore them legally so they have to spend time and effort disqualifying them. -Lost in Band 10-

  • Comment 06/6/14:

    The Decline and Fall of IBM...WOW, I just started reading this book and all I can say is every IBM'er ought to either join the union right now, or bail on the company. -anonymous-
  • Comment 06/7/14:

    Agreed on "The Decline and Fall of IBM" eBook. It puts to paper what a lot of us have/are seeing. There's a few things that I don't think he got quite right and/or are more dependent on what section of the company one is, but all in all, very accurate and paints a detailed picture of what is going on. The sad thing is - I doubt anything will change until the company is too far gone. It will be interesting to see what happens after EPS 2015. -*Watson's_Tumbler*-

IBM Retiree Issues Comments

  • Comment 05/28/14:

    Two questions to -Use Caution Before Rolling Over PPA- regarding wear-away:
    1. True, those of us without a fixed BENEFIT pension plan will need to provide for ourselves in retirement. However, if my planned 'retirement' date is far in the future, I'd suggest that keeping funds in an IBM 'plan' with a VERY low interest rate, might not be a great plan.
    2. I know how to obtain an estimate of my cash balance 'annuity' from NetBenefits. Do you mean to say that the CURRENT ESTIMATED annuity is less than the ESTIMATED annuity at the time that I left IBM? If that is your point, please provide instructions as to how to go back several years to prove that my ESTIMATED, projected annuity, would be more than the current ESTIMATE.

      -Former IBM employee-

  • Comment 06/4/14:

    Answer to two questions, part 2: So to answer your question, Netbenefits showed your annuity value as either your PROTECTED BENEFIT, or your annuity value calculated using the unblended 3-tier PPA rate, whichever was higher. They just never tell anyone that. IBM wants to keep that quiet. They won't talk about WEARAWAY.

    So my point is that if a were to roll my PPA balance over to an IRA, I would be rolling over an amount that is less than my protected benefit, and would have to be concerned about managing it for the next 30-40 years. IBM would love for me to do that and wishes everyone would. Instead I happily returned the cash balance and got a joint life annuity that provides an 8.4% payout rate for the rest of 2 lives (myself and my wife). Hope this helped. -Use Caution Before Rolling Over PPA-

  • Comment 06/5/14:

    Answer to Two Questions:
    1. This all depends on how many years of service you had with IBM prior to 1999. When I left IBM, keeping the PPA with IBM wasn't an option I even considered. My two options were to either roll the PPA over to an IRA, or give the PPA back to IBM and take an immediate annuity. Which leads to your second question...
    2. I too calculated my PPA annuity at Netbenefits. So here is where it gets interesting. I know that the value of the annuity is based on the unblended 3-tier interest rate which changes every year in October. (http://www.pensionsoft.com/references_ppa_segment.html).

      Since interest rates rose slightly, and October was only a month away, I called Fidelity and told them I wanted a printout of exactly how my annuity was calculated. My intent was to see what 3-tier blended rate they used, and then have them recalculate it with the new 3-tier blended rate. When Fidelity sent me the printout it showed that the amount of my pension in 1999 just before they converted to the PPA, which is called the PROTECTED BENEFIT, was greater than the annuity amount that they were going to provide based on the PPA cash balance. This is the definition of WEARAWAY.

      So from 1999 - 2007 when IBM froze the plan, my pension did not increase. So the value of the annuity that Fidelity calculated was the PROTECTED BENEFIT (since under federal law your pension can never be less than what you earned). Fidelity then told me that even using the higher 3-tier unblended rate, my PROTECTED BENEFIT was still significantly higher than the calculated annuity based on the current balance and current 3-tier rates. -Use Caution Before Rolling Over PPA-

  • Comment 06/5/14:

    To -Answer To Two Questions-: Here's a simple way to help make your decision whether to roll over your PPA to an IRA, or get an immediate annuity. (Like I said before, leaving the cash in at 1% wasn't an option under consideration.) Run the calculator and determine your monthly annuity payout on NetBenefits. Then go to www.immediateannuities.com, plug in the value of your PPA, and see what today's market would give you.

    Since I started IBM at age 22 right out of school, and missed being 40 by 7/1/1999, my PROTECTED BENEFIT monthly amount was 50% higher than what www.immediateannuities.com would pay. Obviously, if I had rolled over the cash balance of the PPA to an IRA I would have had to find a way to make up the difference that I left behind, and guarantee I could get a suitable return every year for the next 40 years over two (joint) lives. This varies by age, years of service, and your situation may be different. -Use Caution Before Rolling Over PPA-

  • Comment 06/5/14:

    A subset of folks on the cash balance plan (i.e. those that received transition credits) are entitled to an 'enhanced' annuity. This 'enhanced' annuity gradually disappears until completely gone at age 65. If you read the documents available from Fidelity's site, they do explain that you could have a larger payout at say age 55, then at age 65. Some of this also depends on interest rates the year you start taking payments. Do your homework is my best suggestion. I also calculate about an 8% return if I take the enhanced annuity starting at age 55 when first eligible to retire. -soon to be 55-
  • Comment 06/8/14:

    I posted several VERY lengthy comments to Use Caution Before Rolling Over PPA, including one late yesterday. [If you can identify my comment from last night, no need to post. Cause I now get it.] I now think I get their point! They WEREN'T saying to leave the funds in a cash balance account that earns maybe 1% per year, instead of rolling it over to an IRA. Instead, I THINK they were saying to weigh the benefit of:
    • taking an IMMEDIATE annuity, versus,
    • rolling funds to an IRA, which [my point] will certainly increase more than 1% per year, versus.,
    • waiting until 'retirement age', and experiencing wear-away PLUS the lost years of potential investment growth,
    • other options based on research, talking to financial advisors, etc.

    I completely missed point A — taking an IMMEDIATE annuity. In my specific case, option A would pay for groceries and maybe my excellent [non IBM] health insurance. So I never even considered it.

    Anyway, sorry for such long posts, and I have no more questions for 'Use Caution'. Appreciate his/her patience, as I entirely missed the original point. :) -Two Questions / aka Former IBM Employee-

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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