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6, 2000 April, 2000

Highlights—January 16, 2016

  • Editor's note:

    I am sorry to see the Alliance@IBM suspending organizing efforts. I have been a member of the Alliance since it began, and have walked many picket lines at IBM shareholder meetings with Lee Conrad and others, starting in Cleveland in 2000. For what it's worth, Senator Bernie Sanders joined us on that picket line.

    This site is not affiliated with the Alliance@IBM, but was a strong supporter of the Alliance. It's run by a single retired employee; I worked for IBM from 1977 until 2012. I started the site as an e-mail newsletter to my friends and colleagues in 1999, alerting them to the theft of our pension and retiree medical benefits.

    There have been many people involved in the struggle against IBM to honor the promises it made to us

    for decades regarding pension and retiree medical benefits, and later the poor treatment of employees from a once world-class company. It is my intention to document these struggles in a more organized fashion in the coming weeks and months.

    Also, working with Lee Conrad, I hope to take adapt some of the content from the Alliance@IBM site, and perhaps even add a message board where IBMers can contribute anonymously, as they once did on the Alliance site.

    In the meantime, I suggest to my readers that they continue to find news of IBM that is now published on W3 at these places:


    Union seeking to organize IBM workers gives up the struggle. By Rick Smith. Excerpts: Alliance at IBM, which sought to unionize Big Blue workers since 1999, has given up the fight. In an email Tuesday, the Alliance said it had "suspended" its efforts. Alliance had become a big source of information about layoffs and other news within the tech giant but failed to land more than a few hundred members.

    Lee Conrad, a retired IBMer with more than two decades of service at the company, had championed the Alliance efforts. ...

    The Alliance gave up after reaching a high of several hundred members. Recently the total had fallen to a couple hundred. "In an email sent to Alliance members we announced that the union organizing campaign at IBM has been suspended," Conrad said via email.

    "Years of job cuts and membership losses have taken their toll. IBM executive management steamrolled over employees and their families. We tried to push back when we could but we didn't have enough people power to change the working conditions or stop the massive job cuts or offshoring at IBM. In the mid 1980's there were 230,000 US employees. Now it is about 71,000."

  • Computerworld:

    IBM union calls it quits. By Patrick Thibodeau . Excerpts: After trying since 1999 to turn IBM into a union shop, the Alliance@IBM, a Communications Workers of America local, is "suspending" its organizing efforts. performance evaluation review inspect manage teamwork IT careers: How to get a fair performance review You’re killing it at work, but does anyone notice? A large percentage of IT professionals say the READ NOW "Years of job cuts and membership losses have taken their toll," said the Alliance in a statement Tuesday. The Alliance, which had 400 dues-paying members at its peak, now has about 200. But this figure doesn't tell the real story about the Alliance's accomplishments. The Alliance became a key source of public information for employees and the news media about job cuts, benefit changes and restructuring actions by the tech giant.

    During a job layoff, the number of website visitors could reach 140,000 or more, according to Lee Conrad, the Alliance's national coordinator, in an interview. Employees shared with the Alliance documents and knowledge about the firm's restructuring activities.

    In the mid-1980s, IBM employed some 230,000 in the U.S. The Alliance estimates that number of U.S. workers is about 71,000. IBM stopped disclosing its U. S.-specific headcount about five years ago. IBM is believed to have more employees in India than in the U.S.

  • Poughkeepsie Journal:

    Editorial: Suspension of IBM workers group leaves void. By Poughkeepsie Journal Editorial Board. Excerpts: In the grand scheme of things, Alliance@IBM wasn’t around very long.

    The IBM workers' advocacy group, in fact, lasted about 16 years before recently suspending activity. But the group did yeoman’s work and leaves a big void. Over the years, it’s been painstakingly difficult to get information out of Big Blue, a multinational corporation that once dominated the job market in Dutchess County and much of the Hudson Valley.

    IBM once employed more than 30,000 in Dutchess and Ulster counties, but those numbers are now in the low thousands. IBM, though, is still an important component of the local economy, as is GlobalFoundries, which recently took over a major East Fishkill facility that once was IBM’s domain. As part of the deal, GlobalFoundries has put thousands of IBM employees on its payroll. ...

    While the alliance couldn’t bring the sea change it wanted, the group did praiseworthy work in keeping IBM employees — and the media — apprised of job reductions and other shifts within the company.

    Alliance@IBM Coordinator Lee Conrad says the organization’s website will not be updated, though it will remain online. But news and information regarding job cuts will be posted on the group’s Facebook page.

  • Alliance@IBM FaceBook Postings:
    • Allianceibm CWA: In an email sent to Alliance members we announced that the union organizing campaign at IBM has been suspended. Years of job cuts and membership losses have taken their toll. IBM executive management steamrolled over employees and their families. We tried to push back when we could but we didn't have enough people power to change the working conditions or stop the massive job cuts at IBM.

      The web site will remain up but will not be updated. The job cuts report section has been closed, but we encourage employees to send me information when a mass job cut does take place and I will post news here. I am also putting together a web site that will continue watching IBM. To all Alliance members and supporters we thank you for your support. Remember: the Alliance made history.

    • Deb Kelly To all my dear friends at the Alliance. I just read the heartbreaking news. My health is not good and I could not sleep as I always check the Alliance. On behalf of all of us in the IBM family, thank you for your tireless efforts and all you have done for us. Lee Conrad you are a gentleman and a scholar And there are so many of you that have done so much for us, it is impossible to acknowledge all of you here. For that I am truly sorry. We could have had it all, if only more of us stepped up. We are far stronger together. I am actually crying now...that we missed this brilliant opportunity to band together for all of our sakes.

      Ginni will not make her revenue numbers yet again, the executives continue to reward themselves for their blatant incompetence.. at the expense of our worldwide IBM family. This is all so very sad. I wish the best to all of my worldwide IBM family for 2016 with much health and happiness. To the proud members of the Alliance, I thank you from the bottom of my heart...as you will always have a special place there. With deepest gratitude.

      Gwen Dente: Ditto to all you have written, Deb. Thank Heaven that Lee and other Alliance members had the courage to fight the brave fight. The saddest and truest statement in your note is: " We could have had it all, if only more of us stepped up."

    • Jeff Lacher: Sorry to hear the campaign is being suspended. Lee it was great working with you on this and I wish you the best in your future endeavors. I also look forward to the day a critical mass of IBM workers are awakened to the injustices they endure and begin to fight back in ever greater numbers. When they do, it will be as a result of the seeds you and other Alliance leaders have carefully sown over many years. Thank you for all the hard work!
    • Daniel Hanley: I greatly appreciate the work of Lee Conrad and others who organized and advocated for IBM workers' rights, and it is truly dismal to see our minority union campaign suspended.

      I'm also saddened that I didn't do more personally to organize in my own workplace, which I've watched degrade steadily over the past decade as IBM implements its typical acquire-reorganize-dismantle strategy. As multiple product lines stagnate and as new projects vaporize, I hope my colleagues reach the realization that innovation, job security, and long-term prosperity are achieved through democratic decision making and collective bargaining by the technical workers, not short-term profit maximization and accounting trickery by the uninspiring executive class.

      Of course, as meaningful change doesn't come from above, the responsibility for building this consciousness falls on all of us, not just paid union organizers (laudable as their work may be), so let's respect the legacy of CWA 1701, OUR Walmart, and other minority union campaigns by keeping the struggle alive!

    • Steve Thompson: I was an IBM employee twice. There is zero loyalty or stability. I would never go there again. A once great company no more. Execs have destroyed it. Toxic work environment and 20% employee culling every year...no creativity or innovation behind in all tech areas: cloud, mobile, big data etc. My advice is stay away. Fourteen quarters consecutive sales and earnings drops says it all.
    • Allianceibm CWA: One of the biggest hurdles in organizing at IBM was contacting IBM employees. While were able to amass a very large employee email database, IBM would continually block our access. Our email alerts would sometimes make it through but in most instances wouldn't. Our website would also get blocked. When 45% of the employees work from home or mobile this was a crucial setback to our outreach.
    • Allianceibm CWA: January 7 at 4:46pm · Today CEO Rometty declared "this is the year the new IBM emerges". How many times will IBM reinvent itself? And who will be left to do the work here in the US?

      Details and org charts to be released very soon. Rumor of a 10% cut in jobs and more people put on performance plans. If you have further info send me a note.

  • Kingston Daily Freeman:

    TechCity moves toward demolition of seven buildings; first razing due to start next week. By William J. Kemble. Excerpts: TechCity has secured approval to start demolishing buildings on its sprawling campus, and the four-story structure at the corner of Enterprise Drive and Boices Lane will be the first to go.

    In all, the company that owns the former IBM complex plans to demolish seven buildings on the east side of Enterprise Drive. Most “are the original IBM manufacturing buildings that were built in the 1950s,” said town of Ulster Supervisor James Quigley. ...

    IBM operated at the site from the mid-1950s until the summer of 1995 and employed more than 7,000 people at its peak. The computer giant sold the property to downstate developer Alan Ginsberg in early 1998 for $3.1 million, and he renamed it TechCity. ...

    IBM remains responsible for cleaning up soil and groundwater contaminants it left at the site. IBM discovered the contamination in 1978, but the extent of the problem wasn’t made public until about four years ago, when TechCity was required to file environmental impact statements for its requested zoning change.

    Selected reader comments follow:

    • My dept was one of the first tenants in Bldg. 025 when it opened in the early 80's. The offices had carpeting and modular furniture which was quite nice. I'm surprised to see it slated for demolition so soon.
    • I'm surprised, too. In contrast to the buildings IBM leased on the north side of Route 209 (which were built on-the-cheap by the owner to make a quick buck from IBM), building 025 was built well and supposedly designed for a 100-year life. How could it possibly be "obsolete" and "not usable for any practical purpose"? It's an office building!

      The only explanation that makes sense is that Mr. Ginsberg can't lease it and is simply tired of paying the taxes on it. It'll cost him a pretty penny to demolish it, but I guess he'll get that back in reduced taxes over several years.

    • It will be haunted by the ghosts of former IBMers forever looking for their lost pensions.
  • Financial Times:

    Artificial intelligence: Can Watson save IBM? By Richard Waters. Excerpts: T he history of artificial intelligence has been marked by seemingly revolutionary moments — breakthroughs that promised to bring what had until then been regarded as human-like capabilities to machines.

    The AI highlights reel includes the “expert systems” of the 1980s and Deep Blue, IBM’s world champion-defeating chess computer of the 1990s, as well as more recent feats like the Google system that taught itself what cats look like by watching YouTube videos.

    But turning these clever party tricks into practical systems has never been easy. Most were developed to showcase a new computing technique by tackling only a very narrow set of problems, says Oren Etzioni, head of the AI lab set up by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Putting them to work on a broader set of issues presents a much deeper set of challenges.

    Few technologies have attracted the sort of claims that IBM has made for Watson, the computer system on which it has pinned its hopes for carrying AI into the general business world. Named after Thomas Watson Sr, the chief executive who built the modern IBM, the system first saw the light of day five years ago, when it beat two human champions on an American question-and-answer TV game show, Jeopardy!

    But turning Watson into a practical tool in business has not been straightforward. After setting out to use it to solve hard problems beyond the scope of other computers, IBM in 2014 adapted its approach. ...

    But critics say that what IBM now sells under the Watson name has little to do with the original Jeopardy!-playing computer, and that the brand is being used to create a halo effect for a set of technologies that are not as revolutionary as claimed.

    “Their approach is bound to backfire,” says Mr Etzioni. “A more responsible approach is to be upfront about what a system can and can’t do, rather than surround it with a cloud of hype.”

    Nothing that IBM has done in the past five years shows it has succeeded in using the core technology behind the original Watson demonstration to crack real-world problems, he says. ...

    IBM’s initial plan was to apply Watson to extremely hard problems, announcing in early press releases “moonshot” projects to “end cancer” and accelerate the development of Africa. Some of the promises evaporated almost as soon as the ink on the press releases had dried. For instance, a far-reaching partnership with Citibank to explore using Watson across a wide range of the bank’s activities, quickly came to nothing. ...

    Mr Etzioni goes further, claiming that IBM has done nothing to show that its original Jeopardy!-playing breakthrough can yield results in the real world. “We have no evidence that IBM is able to take that narrow success and replicate it in broader settings,” he says. Of the box of tricks that is now sold under the Watson name, he adds: “I’m not aware of a single, super-exciting app.”

  • The Register:

    IBM cloud chief joins top-brass exit. Power duo follow software supremo Mills. By Gavin Clarke. Excerpts: Two more senior executives – one with veteran status - have exited IBM’s $16bn software business. Cloud chief technology officer and staffer of 18 years Danny Sabbah has retired. He goes, however, with just a single year as IBM’s cloud chief under his belt. Also gone is general manager of IBM Security Brendan Hannigan, who joined the giant in October 2011 with IBM’s purchase of his firm, Q1 Labs. ...

    IBM’s software strategy has been one of brand acquisition, buying more than 30 firms since 2001 and packing them off to the appropriate DBS, Rational, WebSphere, Tivoli or Lotus operation for integration and cross-selling.

    Critics complain this has produced a swollen portfolio that’s difficult to navigate, integrate or sell – something suited to IBM’s consulting business. ...

    IBM has claimed – like its peers – fast growth in cloud but hasn’t broken out the figures, lumping it in with “strategic imperative revenue” that includes analytics and “engagement”, and that was up in total 17 per cent when reported in October.

  • I, Cringely:

    IBM loses its mind. By Robert X. Cringely. Excerpts: This came in today from an IBM customer. Sure enough, as of this morning he’s correct:
    This morning I needed to check to see if one of IBM’s products would run on a particular version of an operating system. I went out the IBM U.S. website to look. I can’t find the product. I can’t find a lot of IBM products. Where are the servers? Where are the software products? Where are the storage products? Wow, its all gone or at least well hidden. The website has been completely replaced and only the CAMSS stuff is there. ...

    IBM is a completely sales-centric business. It is really all about what IBM can “sell,” especially the new stuff I’ve been told by IBMers that there have been occasions when they tried to sell to a customer an IBM product or service only to find out they couldn’t: the company was still making the product or providing the service but had decided not to sell any more so the products and services just disappear.

    Much of what we think of as the IBM product line has disappeared from its U.S. website. This either indicates an epic screwup from IBM’s web team or an indication that the company no longer cares about most of their existing revenue.

    Selected reader comments follow:

    • I was more “successful”. I followed the Products link N-teen pages down, under Discover. Then picked View all IBM Software, and to see how well they manage their own infrastructure, clicked on IT service management, which pointed me to the following URL and the description shown below explained all about IBM in 2016!
      Internal Server Error The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request. Please contact the server administrator, iga.webmaster@us.ibm.com and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error. More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

      I’m not planning on contacting iga.webmaster or anyone else and I’m sure we all know why.

    • So I followed Zaphod’s link to look at IBM Series z mainframes. Right there on the marketing page it says that Walmart uses them to help over 250 people a week. Wow – 250 people? This must be one of those “super computers” we hear about.
    • Good catch; if you watch the video it says “250 million people a week”… this is what happens when IBM fires “expensive” old timers like me (I’m in my 40’s) that have attention to detail, and replace us with underpaid muppets that make goldfish look hyper-intelligent.
    • Ever since IBM offshored its web pages to the Asian continent, their website has been a humongous pile of cluster. I’ve pointed out broken links I don’t know how many times, and the idiots who just read off their scripts and respond in broken English and are told to ignore the word “supervisor” respond with empty platitudes.
    • I know many Asian websites which are designed well by literate designers and developers. On the other hand, when I was working with IBM UK, they decided to deliver CAMSS applications with ‘onsite’ developers from the UK, and the applications delivered were so bad, the customer decided to take the website down this year due to horrible end user feedback and crashes. Offshore are easy to blame, but the real problem is the culture of IBM where people are more concerned about ‘billability’ than quality of work delivered, as that is what defines their PBC ratings.

      I think its the IBM culture of failure that inspires poor quality of work, not about people being physically located either in the US, UK or Asia.

    • There’s no way a marketing/web team in a company that size was able to revamp the site w/o people noticing huge portions of product offerings are missing. VPs’ heads would roll for such a big screw up.

      Nope – this is deliberate and a not-so-subtle-way of telling people internally your time is up, and customers that theirs is too, unless they want some of that tasty cloud mash. mmmm.

    • Speaking from experience (I worked there for a very looooong time) – this isn’t deliberate – it’s just incompetence – they’ve fired way too many good people who, a) had a brain (remember THINK?) and b) actually cared. Those days are over and this is the new normal. It’s the customers I feel sorry for.
    • As a 30-year lifer I saw IBM drift from being a pretty good place with interesting stuff happening to where it is now. I think it all started with “unbundling”.

      However, IBM could give Microsoft tips on internal warfare. I’ve sat in on exchanges between 2 labs over whether the OS or the peripheral should handle an error code, while the customers stewed.

      Just before I left (was retrenched) country management told us the concepts of respect for the individual and secure employment were no longer part of the deal.

      IBM is not a cohesive being. It is a gang of gangs with differing objectives. The intrigue required to get a product out would curl your hair.

      The 050 Data Inscriber was killed on its release date due to non-concurrence by another lab.

    • A gang of gangs is a pretty good analogy. The problem now is that we could practically assign every first level employee their own VP or Director or BUE when they start (i.e. way too many chiefs and not enough Indians actually doing work). When you have all those executives looking for something to do, some way to ‘add value’, it tends to become a soap opera with every exec protecting their sphere of influence instead getting things done.

      The execs preach integration and uniting to get it done. I don’t think the first level employees have any issues working together. The execs don’t like to work together or unite to get it done.

    • If you think the external web site is bad you should try using the (home grown) search engine on the internal web site, it is, or at least was when I was there, totally useless.
    • At least they have a sense of humour. I tried the Site Map and received a 404 with the IBM logo reversed with “Hmm, something’s not right.”
  • Financial Times:

    IBM bets on mergers and algorithms for growth. By Sujeet Indap. Excerpts: After 14 consecutive quarters of declining sales IBM is turning increasingly to mergers and acquisitions in the hope of reviving growth. But one of its chief dealmakers is upfront about the risks acquisitions carry.

    “If 70 per cent of M&A fails, would you propose spending $20bn doing deals?”, asks Paul Price, IBM’s director of M&A integration, alluding to the widely held belief about the effectiveness of dealmaking — and the sum that the company allocated to deals between 2010 and 2015. ...

    Using its experience of doing scores of deals in recent years, its vault of software, and its hundreds of research scientists, five years ago IBM began experimenting with a computer algorithm that could spot the big risks in target companies during the M&A due diligence process. ...

    M&A Pro is constructed as a “machine learning” system: an algorithm that learns to make judgments based on historical data. Its core technology comes from SPSS, a computational and statistical software company IBM bought in 2009 for $1.2bn. M&A Pro also draws on a handful of other software companies that IBM has bought including Cognos, a financial reporting software package it acquired for $4.9bn in 2009.

    More than 200 potential factors from more than 100 acquisitions have been whittled down to 28 variables. Among those that IBM was willing to disclose were the target company’s geographic scope, the region where it has most employees, and its intention to expand its software-as-a-service business model. ...

    But data-driven deal making has not turned around IBM’s poor performance. Its total shareholder return for the past two years is minus 25 per cent. Even $20bn in M&A spent on emerging software companies will not immediately boost sales for a group with $80bn in annual revenue.

  • Glassdoor IBM reviews. Selected reviews follow:
    • “IBM as just another large corporation”

      Former Employee — Senior Engineer in Poughkeepsie, NY. I worked at IBM full-time (more than 10 years). Pros: Well respected company with a great history. Cons: Company is extremely top heavy with management and VPs and is more concerned with large salaries and stock options for management than investing in growing the company. They get transfixed on $20 per share by 2015 and make poor decisions trying to met an arbitrary goal then adjusting for economic conditions and developing long term growth. Advice to Management: It's too late, IBM has become just another large corporation and has lost the title of driving innovation. Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and like companies are the new innovators. IBM tries to keep up by buying other companies to catch up to the competition instead of leading.
    • “IBM Global Business Services, Senior Consultant”

      Former Employee — Anonymous Employee. Pros: Gain very good experience across different fields working with a variety of customers. Cons: Baseline is 44 hours/week, raises and bonuses were very small, company does not cover many job-related expenses. Annual vacation time was really just comp time.
    • “Technical Talent is Woefully Under appreciated”

      Former Employee — Staff Software Engineer. I worked at IBM full-time (more than 10 years). Pros: Broad company which should allow a variety of different jobs within a single company and career. Still has decent benefits. Cons: Poor compensation for employees has led to an ongoing exodus of the best talent in the company. Advice to Management: Fix the rank-order PBC system, as many of the best technical minds in the company hate being forced to compete against coworkers. It does not encourage excellent teams; it encourages self-promotion and political maneuvering. While the management ranks may thrive on this culture, it has no place in technical teams.
    • “Good Team/Conflicting Management”

      Former Employee — Project Manager in Denver, CO. I worked at IBM (more than 3 years).

      Pros: Flexibility to work from home.

      Cons: Internal political jostling resulted in sending mixed messages to the team. As a highly experienced PM I did not appreciate being treated on the level of a grade-schooler — concretely being told I was insubordinate and not following instructions. Further, communication to other internal IBM technical towers was not only not encouraged, but outright prohibited, limiting the capacity to fulfill customer requirements.

      Advice to Management: Having worked with IBM several years, it is apparent the organization is still too top-heavy even for mid-scale customer contracts.

    • “We're too big to help you”

      Current Employee — Managing Consultant in Vancouver, BC (Canada). I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 3 years).

      Pros: Excellent place to get a start working, especially if you're fresh out of university. They will take you on board under a Consultants by Degree program. Here you'll learn all about consulting.

      Cons: You are on your own. This company has the worst on boarding program I've ever seen. You're left to sort out your own benefit options. You're left on your own basically to manage your own career. No guidance, and the mentoring program is a program in name only. You're treated as a number, and how many billable numbers you produce. Never mind all the behind-the-scenes work one does supporting projects or helping win new work. None of it counts at the end of the year.

      Finally, their resource managers are the worst communicators. You can be the most qualified individual to fill a role, but they will hire an outside resource if you are ________ (fill in the blank, 'too far', 'too high band', 'not fluent enough in French".)

      Advice to Management: Look at the whole person and their contributions. And cut back on all the spam email. Sometimes I get up to 20 emails that have nothing to do with what I'm working on or my practice.

    • “Placement year student”

      Former Employee — Various in London, England (UK). Pros: Depends on your character, but IBM is a whale of a company meaning all the bureaucracy and mind numbing paperwork is a constant thorn until you make at least Associate Partner. GBS, the consulting arm of IBM, is great and full of electric energy as you're solving complex business problems in the world's biggest firms. Cons: Some of the projects are long and rather dull. Working in GTS is horrendous; far too many backwards employees who cannot see the bigger picture and are effectively, monkeys in suits. I'd go on but you get the picture. Advice to Management: Trim the firm and pay better.
    • “Lots of hype about agile but a very stuck in the past, waterfall portion at least”

      Former Employee — Lead Business Analyst in London, England (UK). Pros: At least 5 words as pros. Cons: Astounding culture in the consulting arm of heavy waterfall methods and culture. Something is wrong with software projects? We must create more templates, must spend many more weeks in analysis, must lock down requirements because, of course, we think it's realistic that the client and business can support that. Massive hype elsewhere across the intranet and training; so perhaps it's a beast of a cruise liner changing course very slowly, but it was a very poor excuse to not make the effort at approaching things differently. Largely drive by commercial contracts, which the rest of the industry and consultancies have managed to figure out for agile. Advice to Management: Ensure you have real visibility across the units and their methods, as you are losing good talented people because of this kind of inertia and backward thinking; many tens if not hundreds of people. And, continuing the perception of long drawn out expensive IBM projects.
    • “IBMers unite to get it done.”

      Current Employee — Director in Armonk, NY. I have been working at IBM full-time. Pros: IBM has a culture of learning, sharing and respecting employees. Employees have opportunities to work on projects that positively impact the world from improving healthcare with IBM Watson healthcare to helping cities with improving traffic patterns or water with IBM Analytics. Cons: As a publicly traded company, many executive decisions are based purely on the stock market rather than some of the riskier choices that a small start company can do. Advice to Management: As a technology company, IBM could benefit from embracing practices of small start ups. Remove some of the formal executive hierarchy and empower employees to make more decisions at lower levels.
    • “Forgotten Its Roots”

      Former Employee — Anonymous Employee.

      Pros: It's a global company with massive scope for innovation. The people are its greatest assets — sharp and smart, and dedicated to excellence. With enormous influence in the field of technology, IBM is a leader in new discoveries, and ingenious ways of being productive in a crowded commerce.

      Cons: Employing penny pinching, bureaucratic practices, and a culture of declining respect for its employees, IBM is no longer a champion of fostering intelligent risk-taking and encouraging initiative with its people. No longer is decision making considered a desirable art, it is now frowned upon as being irresponsible. Almost all meaningful decisions are now made at the top, and downstream management has been relegated to order taking. The employee is now viewed as a necessary nuisance instead of a valued asset which can be harnessed.

      Advice to Management: IBM needs to re-discover the value of nurturing its people to produce the best possible performance, and the art of fostering creativity and loyalty to the company. Without good employees dedicated to your success, all the 5-year blueprints you care to create, will eventually come to nothing. Your shareholders will soon let you know what they think of that.

    • “Not what you'd expect on a such company”

      Former Employee — Senior Software Engineer in Kraków (Poland). I worked at IBM full-time (more than 5 years).

      Pros: Nice people (except some managers), office location and equipment, almost free parking (yet), moderate amount of work/tasks, good work/life balance. Freedom to organize your work, home working up to 3 days a week. Still good entry in resume. Unlimited access to documentation, books. Good place to learn IBM technologies although certifications are not free for employees.

      Cons: Salaries below market average. Less and less bonuses/profits every year. Never ending "crisis" which they use to explain why there are no raises. Annual evaluations are just a comedy. Only a few projects, mostly concentrated around support (L2/L3), low diversity of projects. Constant pressure on patents and publications.

      Not too many opportunities to grow knowledge/experience in the software industry as the lab suffers from "reinvent the wheel" syndrome which means "use only IBM tools and libraries or code everything from the scratch" (means no libs like Hibernate etc. allowed in the projects).

      Many valuable peoples' effort goes unnoticed and/or underestimated, while a few ones are making quick and brilliant careers without no visible reason. I'd also say that not all of the managers are the right people in the right place.

      Advice to Management: Pay more attention to how promotions to management/higher technical positions are done. Be more industry standardized, use and support open source technologies. Make sure experienced employees get paid above market average or you will end up with students and newbies only. Make evaluations more honest and not based on statistical distributions with numbers for each categories imposed from the top.

    • “Great Company, Fast Changing”

      Current Employee — Senior Managing Consultant in New Brunswick, NJ. I have been working at IBM (more than 5 years).

      Pros: IBM is a great company to work for if you are are a self starter, go getter and self motivated. There are doing some great work around cutting edge technology such as Cloud, Watson, Analytics, Big Data. It's a great place to work if you need work-life balance. W3 site is getting better, the new cloud platform for saving big files has become much easier.

      Cons: IBM has this concept of Blue pages Manager who are like functional managers. I have had 4-5 Managers in the course of 5 years. Most of them were okay, and have been with the company for a long time but still didn't know the inner workings of IBM, therefore couldn't really help me with career advancement.. My feeling is that they didn't want to make an effort to understand the plumbing inside IBM. My current Manager is pretty good and makes an extra effort to get me all the info regarding things I can do to advance my career within IBM.

      Medical insurance sucks. If you want a fully covered plan, it can cost you $1350 per month out of pocket. If you take the high deductible plan, and if you or your family member has to go to hospital or for procedures/Xrays/ MRIs etc. you will get numerous medical bills in the mail.

      Advice to Management: 1) Simplify the inner workings (plumbing) of IBM. 2) It's time to make W3 search more meaningful and helpful for employees to search plethora of information inside IBM. 3) Create additional career paths besides Technology & Management. Such as Techno Functional, Tech Management, Tech Architect Management, Tech Big Data Management etc.

    • “A War of Two Worlds”

      Current Employee — Anonymous Employee.

      Pros: My manager (and team) are remarkably flexible. If someone needs to work from home, step out for an appointment, or just take care of something, he or she can do that, as long as stuff gets done and the team continues to move forward. I've personally had the chance to influence the direction of some pretty cool industry technology trends related to the IoT — which is pretty rewarding.

      Cons: The company, as a whole, is bifurcated. There's very much the "old camp" which is where the majority of the profits are made (but declining). There's the new camp, which are our growth areas, but are not yet sustaining revenues that meet the demand of shareholders. Management (and employees) are stuck straddling the two. I've had the pleasure of working on "the new stuff" for most of my career, but the morale (or lack of it) is sometimes a drag.

      I'll often start working with someone from an external team, need them to focus on X for a few days to get something started, working, and complete, and very rarely am I able to just get stuff done. It often takes escalation. In addition, there seems to be a bit of a brain drain in certain areas; be wary of areas with a slow/steady attrition and few new hires. While these represent a great opportunity to step in and own something, they come (usually) with a tremendous amount of technical debt.

      Advice to Management: Be cognizant that people are people, and not "resources." In my job, I walk the line between being a technical leader and one of the "resources" in a table. We often spend more time dithering about something than the time it would take to actually -do it- and get something cool to a customer. This can't continue.

    • “It Specialist In UK”

      Current Employee — IT Specialist in London, England (UK). I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 10 years). Pros: At this time I can't actually think of any pros. Cons: IBM does not pay. Layoffs always round the corner, employees seen as disposable cost assets. Bonus is a joke, review system (PBC) does not work, and new replacement is same system with added complexity. Advice to Management: Actually listen to staff when they say we need XYZ in order to deliver to customers. Put customers and employees first, not the share price.
    • “Great in its day, just average now...”

      Former Employee — Senior Project Manager. I worked at IBM full-time (More than 10 years)

      Pros: If IBM has the job you want, take it! But I suggest letting IBM be your "starter job" ... work there for two to three years, then go to a company that will groom you for a career-long adventure, while giving better benefits. There are some great co-workers at IBM. I've found the lower management to be generally very good at recognizing and valuing their top contributors, but middle-to-upper (and to executives) are not to be trusted by the employees.

      Cons: The pendulum has swung from IBM's early days of placing value on the employee, where the employee could count on IBM's provision and protection, to today's environment of only caring about immediate impact on the stock price (and its associated executive compensation). Investment in the future, valuing individual creativity and innovation, and fairness to employees have all disappeared.

      In services, it is seen as more important to bill extra hours than doing a great job for the client. Mediocre employees do better in this environment because it takes them longer to get a job done and/or to re-do the work. The good employees finish early, leaving a happy client, but then are on the "bench" and fired. This wouldn't be an issue in product development area, of course. Perhaps top skills are valued in those environments.

    • “IBM just doesn't pay”

      Current Employee — Project Manager in Charlotte, NC. I have been working at IBM (more than 10 years). Pros: Most people are really great people. On top of that, IBM in general is very flexible about your work hours and even location. Most people are "get the work done". Cons: Salaries aren't moving. Pay raises keep getting pushed back or skipped all together. I have been on the promotion cycle for 19 months now. Advice to Management: Stop skipping salary increases. You are driving away good employees by skipping promotions, skipping increase for performance and skipping Market Based Adjustments.
    • “The company has changed so much”

      Former Employee — Administrative Assistant in Somers, NY. I worked at IBM full-time (more than 10 years). Pros: I worked for IBM for 20+ years. In the early years, the company was great — competitive salary, good company culture, good benefits. Cons: IBM has changed so much and morale is low. The job layoffs, resource actions as they call them, are happening too often and there is no transparency about them. The yearly performance evaluation process has become nothing short of a game and have zero value...it's not worth the words written on the page. Advice to Management: Return to the "respect for the individual" values that you once held. Recognize when you are doing it wrong and stop devaluing your employees.
    • “Big blue likes their green”

      Former Employee — Tivoli Support Planner in Poughkeepsie, NY. I worked at IBM full-time (more than 3 years). Pros: Diverse work opportunities. If you don't like your position, there are tons more to choose from. All the people I've worked with were nice, and even though there are thousands of employees, everybody treats you like family. They promote education via their many online courses. Cons: They are all about the bottom line. I have a hard time finding any employees that aren't looking over their shoulder waiting for the next axe to drop. Layoffs are a part of IBM life. Advice to Management: Look at what made the company great years ago and try to get back to that.
    • “Sales at IBM”

      Current Employee — Sales in London, England (UK). I have been working at IBM (more than 10 years). Pros: Great people by and large. Decent work/life balance. Cons: Oranisation fixated on trendy strategic stuff namely Cloud and Cognitive Computing and mostly ignoring and failing to protect what is actually driving the bulk of the company's revenue (traditional HW, SW license and associated services revenues). Many people feel they are excluded from the "in crowd" and low morale is rife. Advice to Management: Where do I start? Work harder on linking the brave new world with IBM's traditional roots. Support the army of people willing to drive the "legacy" business. Make sales targets somewhere in the region of achievable. Highly paid execs whose job is to write blogs will not save you.
    • “Project Manager”

      Former Employee — Applications Support Manager in Armonk, NY. I worked at IBM (more than a year). Pros: Interesting work. Knowledgeable staff. Cons: No job security. Not good at providing additional consulting opportunities. Advice to Management: Focus on job security and better relationship with employees.
    • “Director, North America Marketing — IBM Commerce”

      Current Employee — Director, North America Marketing — IBM Commerce in Ann Arbor, MI. I have been working at IBM full-time (more than 10 years). Pros: Opportunity have a highly varied career in multiple roles without having to change companies. Distributed teams allow virtual working and the ability to live just about anywhere as long as you're near an airport. Cons: Senior leadership has, in recent history, over emphasized shareholder value which has caused systemic short term-ism and bad decisions that it's taking years to recover from
    • “Not my father's IBM”

      Former Employee — Anonymous Employee. I worked at IBM full-time (more than 10 years).

      Pros: If you can get a job in an area of investment (e.g. cloud, research) and keep transferring into the shiny new areas that IBM executives are all excited about then the likelihood that you will remain employed at IBM increases. Ability to telecommute is a great benefit of IBM.

      Cons: Benefits are average but not thrilling. Health care insurance is expensive at IBM. Severance pay is subpar. IBM overworks its employees. Following 2008 productive increased 10-fold but IBM didn't increase pay or benefits and hasn't staffed up to reduce workload on employees. IBM loves to lay off people and doesn't like employees to stay past 25 or 26 years. IBM executives are short sighted and distracted by the stock price and earnings per share at the expense of their employees and customers.

      Advice to Management: Focus on customer and employee satisfaction. Happy customers + happy employees = profit.

    • “Depressing”

      Former Employee — Consultant Doesn't. I worked at IBM full-time (more than a year). Pros: Good starting salary if you are hired straight out of college as a consultant.


      • Long hours (expected to put in over 70 hours a week. Claim that this is what it means to "be a consultant," although I did not do any consulting work.
      • Consulting by Degrees program is a joke. American and Canadian college grads get together four times a year for "training," when in reality it is just a bunch of rowdy youth going on extended vacation to a fancy hotel to drink and party.
      • Your pay/benefits/bonus solely determined by utilization, aka how many hours you put in. Despite the fact that I was a full-time exempt employee, everyone is treated like a hamster in a wheel.

      Advice to Management: Find a way to keep young talent. Any bright young person will put in their one year at IBM (to keep their sign-on bonus) and then quit the company all together. You are not fooling anyone with the lavish "trainings" 4 times a year.

  • Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert — January 8, 2016 (PDF). Stories this week include:
    • Alliance Activists to Hold More than 20 Anti-TPP Rallies Hours before State of the Union
    • Take Action to Make Prescription Drugs More Affordable
    • President Obama Vetoes Attempt to Repeal the Affordable Care Act
    • New York Times: The Time for Social Security Expansion is Now
  • Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert — January 15, 2016 (PDF). Stories this week include:
    • President Delivers Final State of the Union Address - Mentions Social Security, Medicare, TPP
    • New CFPB Guide Helps Retirees Make Pension Decisions
    • Economic Policy Institute: Too Many Seniors are Working or Poor
    • Hawaii Alliance Holds its Convention with Governor Ige, Honolulu Mayor Caldwell
    • Come to the Alliance’s 2016 Western, Southern Regional Conferences
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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