More than 100 IBM employees occupy Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., campus helping build iPhone and iPad apps for IBM customers such as Citigroup Inc., Sprint Corp. and Japan Post Holdings Co.
Things are looking different inside IBM, too. Once a company of blue suits, Wintel personal computers and BlackBerrys, Big Blue is on track to become the world’s largest corporate user of MacBooks. On Wednesday, the company began to apply lessons it has learned, introducing a service intended to help other companies adopt Macs.
Employing 380,000 workers, IBM has a unique challenge in competing with nimble Silicon Valley startups in the market for information-technology services, which research firm Gartner Inc. estimates at $981 billion globally. According to IBM Chief Information Officer Jeff Smith, the question facing the company is: “Can we have the innovation of the best, smallest companies and the scale of IBM, and figure out a way to turn culture into a competitive advantage?” ...
Three years ago IBM banned internal use of Apple’s Siri, the iPhone voice assistant, over worries about data security. Apparently, there were Apple fans in the company; when IBM first offered Macs to its workers in May, 185,000 employees read the internal announcement, Mr. Smith said. “It really hit a nerve with IBMers,” he added.
Selected reader comments follow:
Big Blue said it will sell its enterprise customers Mac desktops and notebooks pre-loaded with its IT management software and services. The bundles are aimed at helping IT departments integrate Macs with their current software platforms.
Under the new program, dubbed MobileFirst Managed Mobility, businesses can order Macs directly from IBM and have the Apple machines pre-loaded and configured with IBM's enterprise software and management tools. For larger customers, Big Blue will also allow the Macs to be custom configured to run with internal applications and services.
The big technology company announced on Thursday morning that it was buying Merge Healthcare, a medical-imaging software company, for $1 billion. When IBM set up its Watson health business in April, it began with a couple of smaller medical data acquisitions and industry partnerships with Apple, Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic. Last week, IBM announced a partnership with CVS Health, the large pharmacy chain, to develop data-driven services to help people with chronic ailments like diabetes and heart disease better manage their health. ...
The company is investing not only money but also some of its corporate reputation on the belief that it can be a technological leader in improving health care, with better outcomes for patients and more efficient spending for providers, insurers and patients.
In an interview on the “Charlie Rose” program on PBS in April, Virginia M. Rometty, IBM’s chief executive, spoke of the company’s role over the years in supplying technology for big projects, from computerizing census statistics to putting astronauts on the moon.
“Our moonshot,” Ms. Rometty said, “will be the impact we will have on health care.”
John Kelly, senior veep at the IBM Research and Solutions Portfolio, said: "Healthcare will be one of IBM’s biggest growth areas over the next 10 years, which is why we are making a major investment to drive industry transformation and to facilitate a higher quality of care."
IBM has been desperately trying to re-invent itself in an attempt to revive its falling profits, which last month shrank again for the thirteenth consecutive quarter. ...
Mike Rogers, analyst at Megabuyte, said of the latest deal: "Although the Merge deal – Watson's third such health-related acquisition – was completed at a chunky multiple, it may be worth every penny should IBM realise the potential value of Merge's technology platforms over time."
A reader comment follows:
For a radiologist, mammography is the toughest film to read. (Yes I know its digital)
So there's a system that has been around to do image processing to help spot things that a Radiologist might miss.
Since the number of images in a study, even if it took 3-4 minutes to review an image, the overall time would be less than it took to take the images.
With respect to an MRI, you have multiple slices and the tech takes a handful of the slices and sends them off to the radiologist to review. Many more images.
Here, you could use Big Data to do the image processing in parallel.
Again, its not a stretch and nothing really new.
The difference is that these images are less complex to read than a mammography so that the need for a CAD system isn't really necessary. So why spend millions of dollars on a cluster and software to review studies that don't need a CAD review in the first place?
Again it's IBM trying to find a problem for their solution.
Brandywine has bought out IBM Corp. at the so-called "Broadmoor" campus at 11501 Burnet Road. It's adjacent to The Domain neighborhood and commercial complex in North Austin and has much more room to grow. Brandywine and its predecessors and IBM had owned the campus in partnership since 1991.
One is about scaling down a virtual machine as its traffic recedes, another deploys sensitive data to a secure server, and a third creates snapshots of virtual machines for rapid recovery in the event of a failed workload.
These examples don't necessarily bring to mind a sense of blinding brilliance or original innovation, but these cloud operations can be patented. For those who conceive of the cloud as an environment based on public standards with many shared elements, the grant of these patents isn't entirely reassuring.
IBM, one of the world's largest patent-holders, year after year, and a leading patent acquirer, is busy applying the skills of its stable of patent lawyers in order to gain more cloud patents. ...
Granted IBM, with its Bluemix developer platform-as-a-service or its Softlayer cloud data centers, might have specific inventions and innovations that IBM wishes to protect. But the nature of IBM's patents cited doesn't appear to be particular to Bluemix, Softlayer, or any other IBM-originated service. ...
Rather, they appear to be more general-purpose cloud processes or operations that many service providers already use or would implement if left free to do so. IBM's patent library might therefore be used to demand royalty payments from other service providers or, perhaps equally likely, be used to ward off claims made against IBM by aggressive patent-holders among the service providers. ...
Then there's Patent 9,015,164 for the high availability of virtual servers. "Aspects of the disclosed invention enable a cloud environment to take snapshots of virtual machines, which can then be used for recovery purposes." Really? Snapshotting is patentable in the cloud? It's widely used in many ways in storage systems, including cloud storage systems. Why would IBM be able to get a patent on that? Read "High Availability for Cloud Servers" and perhaps you can explain it to me.
Pros: Home office. Remote work allowed, decent 401k program, with the right manager advancement is possible.
Advice to Management: Get rid of the PBC system that pits us against each other and adopt a system that actually rewards all your top performers and promotes collaboration instead of back stabbing
Pros: Excellent exposure that can catapult one's career. I loved the fact that you worked with people from all over the world. Lots of opportunities for development, training, mentorship programs. Good work ethic, highly structured company.
Cons: Be prepared for culture shock, too much structure and procedure slows you down.
Advice to Management: I believe hiring is a way of getting fresh blood into the organisation, with the intention of replacing the older blood someday. Most new hires are frustrated due to lower pay than competition, doubled with the fact that they hardly climb ever into management positions, even after performing. This explains why the organisation is hemorrhaging — only its young blood sadly.
Pros: Negotiated hotel discounts you can use for personal travel (bring your badge). If all you want to do is follow a bunch of rules and continue to collect great paychecks without really doing much work, this is your place!
Cons: Obsessing about "checking boxes" on stifling bureaucratic processes and silly administrivia rules cast across all employees in attempts to be more efficient that do anything but. They keep acquiring the smaller and more agile companies I go work for as their source of innovation.
Advice to Management: You have employees, not children; stop nannying to the point of locking down productivity in attempts to shave an extra few million in travel costs or home office expenses — you might have a few offenders take advantage but in the long run the gains will far outweigh the lost revenues. Getting VP approval to take a client out to a $20 lunch is just stupid when you are trying to sell them $3M of software, especially when you can't reach him on your mobile because the 90-day approval process on international roaming didn't hit your phone on time for the meeting.
Pros: It's a big company with a diverse culture. There are some very smart interesting people there and it has a great history to be proud of. Depending in which part you work your experience will vary. Nice benefits, perks through IBM club, still has a strong future. The Watson project seems like a very exciting venture.
Cons: Poor compensation. Many seemingly bad management decisions being made costing the company more money. Over the past 20 years the value IBM places in its employees has seemed to greatly diminish. Lots of jobs sent outside the borders. Hard if not impossible to move within the company. The bureaucracy one needs to navigate to get anything done is counter productive. (This is from a manufacturing perspective. Other parts of the company may be very different.)
Advice to Management: Stop tossing babies out with the bath water. Have seen a lot of good talent tossed out the door because upper management did not understand the value it had.
Pros: Great training and experience. Livable wage and decent benefits.
Cons: Management is out of touch with employees. Too many layoffs and they have been known to force people to move without any relocation assistance. I feel a sense of instability in my position. I've had 3 managers in my first year. Morale is very low among SSRs.
Pros: Big name reputation; Huge vision and ambition; Exciting transformation; Integrity in leading on doing what we say our customers should do (Bring Your Own Device, Social & Mobile Collaboration, Analytics just some examples)
Cons: Crushing processes; Unrealistic targets; Tactical, month by month and even week by week focus on numbers at expense of strategic planning; A slow-moving behemoth.
Advice to Management: Set everyone up for success — not failure
Pros: They used to have cutting edge technology and superior people; asset availability and deployment was never a problem for field personnel who needed access to help.
Cons: Seniority system was clearly in effect; superior performers received minimal salary increases and promotions were few and far between. For an organization whose motto is "Think" those who did any thinking were usually in the minority and frequently ignored.
Advice to Management: Shed the turf preservation mentality and when possible work together. Understand you are where you are because you were there first, in most cases.
Pros: Get to work with very smart people who like to work hard. Pay is good relative to other companies in the industry. IBM is a huge brand name that other companies respect when recruiting. Good baseline to begin your career.
Cons: No real insight into management even within GBS or your practice. Focus is all on bottom line. Seems like each person is just a billable asset to management. No real worry about growing each team member
Advice to Management: Keep top performers engaged and learning. Does not seem like top performers are appreciated. Everything here is too rigid and too much tape/ paperwork takes place to get where you want to go.
Pros: Really good place for an internship. It's a first step through the door towards a career. You get to network with other people who are also interns. As an intern you get to peek into the engineer process of a enterprise.
Cons: The pay is not competitive. Especially when working in Markham areas. A lot of departments feel stagnant. Many of the projects gets outsourced. Not a lot of perks.
Advice to Management: Make IBM attractive top talents and give competitive pay.
Pros: IBM has a lot of weight behind the name. There are some incredibly smart people who've worked on all sorts of projects. IBM also is really trying to move into software so talented software engineers are kind of the rock stars.
Cons: As bureaucratic as it gets. Often a lot of annoyances with having to use IBM products and silly approvals for using new technology. Not much energy to really change the way things work, and often long product timelines drain more of that energy.
Advice to Management: IBM should be looking to get top-line engineers to remake a lot of different things. They are on the right track, but it still seems dated compared to the hot software startups.
I was also "promised" free health care for life when I retired, free membership at the IBM Country Clubs, a full pension, (not one that stopped accumulating in 2007) etc., etc.
Did you know that they just took away the life insurance policy for retirees if you hadn't retired by the end of 2014?
There is little left in terms of retirement benefits especially for newer employees. Maybe if more had joined the union at times the layoffs didn't directly affect them, things would be better now. Instead, people sat back and watched everything get whittled away and hoped for the best. Hoping doesn't work. -longtimebeemer-
I find it mind boggling that you are surprised that you don't have a pension after 27 years at IBM. I feel bad for you if you haven't made other arrangements for your retirement, but you really can't blame IBM for that because they've given you countless tools, including personal financial counseling (which was very good by the way) to help you plan YOUR retirement. -Anonymous-
In 1999, IBM converted us all to to cash balance pension plan, those of us not yet 40 by the end of June 1999. I believe they froze the plan then on December 31, 2007. I did not turn 40 until October 13th of that year. The legal eagle beagles at IBM had done their homework and determined we could not file suit for age discrimination as we were not yet 40.
At the time, I escalated to Tom Bouchard on behalf of all of us and presented a detailed analysis of the dire financial impact of this scathing change to our IBM families. Tom called me every two weeks for over a year, as I was on his "to do" list. I asked him to quantify the flaw in my analysis. There was no flaw he replied, but IBM was not going to change course. Respectfully, I asked tom to stop calling me as I was not afraid I was wasting his time. more importantly, he was wasting mine.
Dear IBM worldwide family please consider joining the Alliance. We are far stronger together and the Alliance has been looking out for all of us for years and years and years now. Respectfully, -Deb Kelly proud Alliance@ibm member-
Someone who just was 40 years old with 10 years got a choice (is this true?) and those with more IBM employment but not 40 years age got no choice. I bet he avoided even talking about this, right? Now all these years later I find out and the "pension" IBM told us not to worry about for the reduced salary we worked for in lieu of the "IBM Pension" was a farce and a lie.
Gosh, why haven't more folks in my case joined the Alliance. I should have joined long ago. Now it is too late for me. RAed and just thrown out in the IBM garbage dumpster. -DazedNTotallyConfused-
I did not have a 75-page multimedia presentation these IBM management knuckleheads demand now. All smoke and mirrors. No substance but by goodness the fonts should be perfect and the colors and the bullshit. My little fact sheet was wiped out due to a blasted computer virus. So as an IBMer I will "wing it". In the old days we called this "completed staff work."
"So Tom", I said, "If someone joined IBM in 1978 at the age of 18 and did not turn 40 until August 1st 1999, that individual would have 21 years of service, yet would be automatically converted to the cash balance pension despite double the years plus 1 of the blasted minimum requirement?”
"Yes. Deb that is correct”.
"How is this legal, Tom or ethical or moral?”
"Deb I cannot speak to those things as I am not an attorney.”
The key difference here is that our IBM family friend, had they turned 40 on the last day of July 1999 would've have been grandfathered to our legacy annuity pension."OK Tom you are wasting my time now, and my time is very valuable to me. You need to stop calling me.”
Dear Dazed, it is not too late to Join the Alliance there is more "bad stuff " coming I am sure of that...and, I will be back tomorrow with a potential horrific scenario on our IBM pensions I am not Henny Penny. I am not saying the sky is falling. I am saying we are stronger together than apart and if not for the tireless efforts of the IBM Alliance, None of us would know what the hell was going on. Respectfully -Deb Kelly proud Alliance@IBM
Alliance reply: Thank you, Deb, for sharing a first-person conversation with Tom Bouchard regarding the truth about the Pension Heist of 1999. Today's US IBMers may not be aware of how significant an impact that whole sleazy operation had on tens of thousands of us, in 1999. They also may not know that in 1995 there was also a precursor change to the Pension Plan that set up the 1999 move. All in all, IBM has been doing all these "moves" ever since, as a way to eviscerate everything that TJ Watson Sr. intended and stood for, over 100 years ago (IBM was incorporated in 1911). Thanks again for you support of Alliance@IBM. We truly appreciate it.
Alliance reply: Your questions have been answered here before by other IBMers in the same situation as you.
The state in which you work and reside, will have specific rules and/or procedures regarding collecting unemployment vis a vie retirement classification. Please check the Alliance web pages "Archives" and search on 'unemployment' and other keywords related to retirement, 401k, and unemployment.
I was 39 3/4 years old and had 19 3/4 years with the company...three months shy on the either or gate. IBM's funding of the old pension was flat until 5 years before retirement eligibility and then mushroomed up, so their plan was to convert people while they still had nearly nothing to convert. But like I said, this all happened 16 years ago. How could you have missed knowing that happened? -GoneIn2013-
Really thought i would end my days here with a nice little pension! Can't say too much about myself as I don't want to let them know who I am. Will miss you IBM and all the cloud emails I get every day. Shame you weren't on it before Amazon and such. -Anonymous-
Message: -DazedNTotallyConfused- By my calculations, based on your first message here, you started in 1988 and averaged $100K annual salary. Your pension payout totals $135K. Are these calculations correct? If so, I'd guess that you must've been a band 9 or 10 for most of your IBM career and that your ignorance of the changes that happened to the pension plan, that affected well over 40,000 IBMers at the time, was due to your "trust" of your manager and the belief that you wouldn't be lied to at your level.
I may be way off here, but I suspect that many, many IBMers like yourself felt exempt (no pun intended) from the layoffs and mistreatment that IBMers in much lower band levels were getting hit with? This is my sense of why you "missed", how you have come to the realization so late that IBM screwed you just like all the other"trusting" IBMers. Again, I may be wrong and no offense intended. Lesson learned, eh? -no more lying-
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