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 usfor 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:
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."
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.
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.
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.
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."
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!
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.
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:
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.
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.”
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.
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:
Internal Server Error The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request. Please contact the server administrator, email@example.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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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