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IBM Businesses The Almighty Buck

Perspectives On the Latest IBM Layoffs 135

Posted by timothy
from the still-biggish-blue dept.
An anonymous reader writes "After IBM reported disappointing Q1 earnings in March, to nobody's surprise, layoffs (RAs or 'Resource Actions' in IBM parlance) were announced two months later; June 12 seemed to be when most of the pink slips were handed out. While this is hardly a novel occurrence at IBM, this time the RA'd employee water cooler page is now open for everyone's inspection, and Cringely let loose with some predictable I-told-you-so's about financially oriented IBM senior management. Dan Burger at IT Jungle has a more numbers-oriented take on the latest round of layoffs."
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Perspectives On the Latest IBM Layoffs

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  • Thanks timothy! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by kamapuaa (555446)

    Dude is hilarious. "I call them like I see them and always have. That’s my reputation. Ask Steve Ballmer at Microsoft if he likes my work and he may very well say “no.” Ask Larry Ellison. Ask Larry Page. You can’t ask Steve Jobs but you can ask Tim Cook. Do they like my work? No. no, and no. Now ask if they respect my work and every one of those men will probably say “yes.” Because I call them like I see them and always have."

    And then in the "About" section: "Most recent

    • by sjames (1099)

      If that's all you got from TFA, you didn't read very carefully.

    • You missed entirely the bulk of the article: terrible customer service and a decayed reputation, hollowing out the company and abusing remaining employees, downgrading bulk of work to IBM India employees, etc. Did you read the article or just go to his Bio page?

  • by rickb928 (945187) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @10:21AM (#44100271) Homepage Journal

    Though I feel for these employees that will watch their work go elsewhere, cheaper, more flexible/captive, and lower quality.

    It's the lies IBM will tell its customers, starting with the quality lies, then the onshore/offshore lies, and finally the resource commitment lies.

    And how the government customers will roll over and ignore the contract provisions.

    And later will stop asking IBM to even bother to keep work and data onshore when it is required by law.

    Corpratists. Crony Capitalism. we are being fleeced.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Though I feel for these employees that will watch their work go elsewhere, cheaper, more flexible/captive, and lower quality.

      Nonsense, Sanjay delivers most excellent work professional! He is to give you fine product definite! And his English is making superb! Great documentation and phone support is his being best at and is to be forthcoming!

      • ibm keeps him around because, well, he Does The Needful(tm).

    • by Nerdfest (867930) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @10:58AM (#44100609)

      If you're still buying software or services from IBM, you deserve what you get, and vice-versa.

    • It's the lies IBM will tell its customers, starting with the quality lies, then the onshore/offshore lies, and finally the resource commitment lies.

      It does seem like a number of customers, including major ones, have been dropping IBM services lately as a bunch of overpriced crap. I'm not in the part of the business that let's me judge that firsthand, but I'm interested in any knowledgeable commentary on that.

      I certainly don't like anyone losing their jobs, frankly particularly Americans, so I hope many of these people can find decent jobs elsewhere. Question about labor laws (may vary from state to state), can people who were laid off (from in this cas

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        What we need to do is start outsourcing executives. How much skill does it take to play golf and schmooze?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by lgw (121541)

        I see no moral problem with jobs moving to parts of the world that frankly need the money more. However, I think IBM's business problems will continue to grow because of this. If quarter by quarter you make choices to stem the pain this quarter for a net longterm loss of quality and reputation, you're circling the drain.

        At this point I expect IBM to go the way of AT&T and Maytag: the name will survive, but that's about it. (Actually, in IBMs case, their mainframe business is unique and profitable, an

        • Actually, there is a significant moral problem here.

          Point 1, IBM is taking money promised to their employees (401k contributions) and using it to fund the company’s cost of executing the layoffs.
          Point 2, in many cases IBM is laying off the US employee and keeping an H1B employee, which is probably illegal.
          Point 3, IBM is telling their soon-to-be-laid-off employee that they have 30 or so days to find a new job in IBM, else they will be laid off, yet managers in IBM cannot hire the soon-to-be-laid-o
          • by lgw (121541)

            All of which is separate from jobs moving to other parts of the world. Or perhaps you're responding to the wrong post?

            • Please, I'm not being critical of your post. But I am very definitely saying that IBM's methods of moving those jobs overseas is entirely immoral. It is big business at its worst. IBM, like many mega corporations (Apple, Microsoft, Google, to name a few), lie through their teeth when it comes to stating the reasons they do what they do that affects many thousands of US jobs. The so called immigration bill passed just yesterday illustrates the problem most vividly. A quote from Yahoo news [yahoo.com]: "But Corley
              • by lgw (121541)

                I'd say that differently. IBM blows goats, and does layoffs in a way that it amazes me that anyone applies for work there. None of this is new. The fact that some of these jobs go overseas it not in and of itself immoral, however.

                As far as H1-Bs: an H1-B in California is vastly more expensive than hiring someone in rural America (I know, I've tried both). Clearly that's not all about the money. There are exploitive consulting companies that only employ H1-Bs and abuse the Hell out of them, and it would

    • by sl4shd0rk (755837)

      Corpratists. Crony Capitalism. we are being fleeced.

      fleeced is too light of a term. We need a better term for allowing corporate welfare yet still enabling millions of jobs to simply pack up and leave the US soil. A term which represents the state of the US job market, yet still captures the core values which every industry is striving for: cheap labor, cheap service, lax regulations, and low operating overhead. I know, let's just call it nafta.

    • by rijrunner (263757) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @12:09PM (#44101501)

      Though I feel for these employees that will watch their work go elsewhere, cheaper, more flexible/captive, and lower quality.

      It's the lies IBM will tell its customers, starting with the quality lies, then the onshore/offshore lies, and finally the resource commitment lies.

      And how the government customers will roll over and ignore the contract provisions.

      And later will stop asking IBM to even bother to keep work and data onshore when it is required by law.

      Corpratists. Crony Capitalism. we are being fleeced.

      When I was at IBM, it worked like this..

      1Q disappointing sales.
      2Q layoffs.
      3Q OMG, look at things improve
      4Q Look at how we've improved. Let's give the execs a bonus equivalent to the combined salary of the people we laid off.
      1Q disappointing sales.
      2Q layoffs.
      3Q OMG, look at things improve
      4Q Look at how we've improved. Let's give the execs a bonus equivalent to the combined salary of the people we laid off.
      1Q disappointing sales.
      2Q layoffs.
      3Q OMG, look at things improve
      4Q Look at how we've improved. Let's give the execs a bonus equivalent to the combined salary of the people we laid off.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Hahaha, exactly. I joined in 2006 Q1 and they were firing people all around I was like wtf.. why did they hire me. Then in 2007 Q1 the same B.S. Then again in 2008.. and in 2009.. I was numb after a few years (official response to rumours about lay offs: "let me know when i'm fired, otherwise say nothing"). Glad I left.
        • by TechNit (448230)

          It IS the layoffs! I worked for 8 years at Boeing. I LOVED my job! But man the layoff circus was BRUTAL! It completely killed employee loyalty and morale. These weren't market driven cyclical layoffs. These were constant rounds of layoffs! The constant drag/fear on the rank and file was/is devastating. BoeingIT was an awesome place to work, in 2001. I miss it greatly...

          The fun days are long gone man...

      • by harrkev (623093) <<kfmsd> <at> <harrelsonfamily.org>> on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @01:40PM (#44102713) Homepage

        The company that I work for is starting down this same path, so I am getting laid off in a few day. It is so incredibly short-sighted to be focused on the next quarter instead of the quarter that is five or ten years away.

        I have also noticed that every company wants to have 95th percentile engineers, but they all want to pay 50th percentile salaries. Does anybody else see the logical contradiction there?

        By the way: anybody need an ASIC or FPGA designer (RTL or physical design) in the Colorado Springs area?

        • by Tablizer (95088)

          I have also noticed that every company wants to have 95th percentile engineers, but they all want to pay 50th percentile salaries. Does anybody else see the logical contradiction there?

          It's not a logical contradiction, it's political marketing. It allows businesses to claim there is a "shortage" of techies so that they can import labor and offshore without political consequences. It's only a "contradiction" if you take it at face value. It's a wheel-and-deal game to try to get "A" quality at "C" prices.

  • IBM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @10:24AM (#44100301)

    Indian Business Machines is based in Armonk - still?

    Global IBM employment is clearly dropping but employment in India, for example, is rising, so is this a net global number or gross layoffs?

    Of course they are hiring in India.

    The IBM that used to be the leader in social reform and good corporate citizenship no longer exists.

    That ended in the 90s.

    In IBM’s big plans its customers are a necessary evil.

    That is the case for EVERY big corp. See the: banking, airline, cell phone, cable TV industries for downright hostile attitudes towards customers. IBM isn't quite there - yet.

    No IBM customer is asking the company to put fewer workers on their account.

    That won't happen. Customers will just get more workers in India.

    See people - business customers - why go through an American based services company when all they really do is resell Indian (and other third world countries) labor? Buy direct and save money! And you don't have to put up with the ex-ballplayer salesman who makes waaaayyy too much money just because he's over six foot, classically handsome and looks good in a suit.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I am a bit lost.

      Your radiology xrays are read by MDs abroad, and even your military is fed by workers from 3rd world countries. So it is but obvious that Americans love cheap stuff and dont really care about where it is manufactured or assembled ( e.g. iPhone) or who does the work.

      So why do you suddenly feel surprised that the one profession that can easily work from home is now getting outsourced ? White collar jobs are no different from blue collar jobs, because the value added compared to the compensatio

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @11:48AM (#44101243)

        So why do you suddenly feel surprised that the one profession that can easily work from home is now getting outsourced ?

        No one is surprised.

        What you are missing is the lies that corporate America tells: that they are going offshore because they can't get qualified Americans. It's of no surprise to anyone - except for you - that corporations are going overseas to save costs.

        Suddenly you talk of Corporate citizenship! US companies have always made plans with their investors in mind - not their employees, and considering most of your companies make more money outside the US than in US... the only reason to call them a US company is because of their incorporation in Delaware.

        What's this 'suddenly'?

        And no, back in the old days, companies like Dupont, Ford, and even IBM, and many others, prided themselves on taking care of their employees, their communities and their investors.

        Over the last few decades, that attitude has become "quaint" and corporations have developed this slash and burn mentality that benefits their CEOS at the expense of the employees and the shareholders.

        This is about well connected and incompetent people getting these CEO jobs, fucking up a company, and getting compensated handsomely for performance that would have a member of the rank and file fired.

        Your and the mod's naivete is pathetic.

        • by TechNit (448230)

          This!

          This is about well connected and incompetent people getting these CEO jobs, fucking up a company, and getting compensated handsomely for performance that would have a member of the rank and file fired.

          Your and the mod's naivete is pathetic.

      • Re:IBM (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ebno-10db (1459097) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @11:51AM (#44101283)

        Your radiology xrays are read by MDs abroad, and even your military is fed by workers from 3rd world countries. So it is but obvious that Americans love cheap stuff and dont really care about where it is manufactured or assembled ( e.g. iPhone) or who does the work.

        That's a gross oversimplification. I'm not opposed to importing goods and services, so long as the trade is balanced.

        So why do you suddenly feel surprised that the one profession that can easily work from home is now getting outsourced ?

        Sudden? You call the last 13 years sudden? And programming is far from the only job that can be performed at home. Think of your radiologist example (though that happens less than you might think, thanks to the doctor's union). Think call center operations, much accounting and legal work, etc.

        White collar jobs are no different from blue collar jobs, because the value added compared to the compensation is severely mismatched in the USA.

        How do you come to the conclusion that it's severely mismatched? It's slightly mismatched. If it wasn't mismatched at all then we'd eliminate our persistent trade deficit. Of course this leads sycophantic pundits to say that American workers should be more "globally competitive" (i.e. work for less), as though the $50k/yr person should suddenly accept $40k. Wrong approach, because what matters in terms of international comparisons is what someone earns times the exchange rate. $100k means nothing to a European to pays for things in Euros, until you convert it by the exchange rate. So what has to happen is for the exchange value of the dollar to drop.

        Why pay $100K for someone when it can be done by an equally experienced guy in India, Argentina or Eastern Europe for $30K ?

        Because in many cases that $30k is a false economy. Outsourcing often doesn't save much money because of all the additional management and oversight required. That doesn't even include the quality, support and delivery time issues. To the extent it does save money, the difference is just shoveled into the pockets of CEO's and shareholder. That doesn't save money for the customer, it just shuffles the money to different people.

        the only reason to call them a US company is because of their incorporation in Delaware

        I completely agree. Companies that do more work outside of the US than in it shouldn't be allowed to be American companies.

        • by Tiroth (95112)

          Your statement about the relative value of income makes sense but is a bit simplified. Typically it is not the exchange rate that is important as much as the purchasing power parity, which also takes into account local costs of living, etc.

    • The IBM that used to be the leader in social reform and good corporate citizenship no longer exists.
      That ended in the 90s.

      I cannot think of a time when that ever was a case. From patent lawsuits, to monopolistic behavior, to helping Nazis.......when has IBM ever been a 'good corporate citizen?'

  • RAs or 'Resource Actions' in IBM parlance -> RAs or 'Resource Actions' in IBM newspeak (fixed that for you)
  • Worked at IBM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bigbutt (65939) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @10:46AM (#44100505) Homepage Journal

    I worked there for 2 years. There were some interesting technical benefits however the sysadmin team was highly siloed. I counted 12 teams that had fingers on the servers we managed. The worst part was the cog in the machine treatment. Some manager you'd never seen before would come into the cube farm on Monday, and seemingly randomly tap 2 or 3 folks out. They'd have their desks cleaned out by Wednesday. Your manager would find you 3 or 4 jobs but they'd require a transfer to a different location. When my sysadmin job was outsourced to India (we had to train them before we left), my manager found Data Center building jobs in Kansas, web programming jobs locally, and contract support for a company in Boston. Fortunately that was a telecommute position. We had folks from New York, Boston (on site), New Jersey, Washington State, and me in Colorado. The team was so broken due to the lack of face to face interaction that folks would leave and new folks come in every few months. I finally left when management tapped our customer interface and she had 2 days to transfer all her knowledge to the replacement. I could deal with most of the cog in the machine stuff, but the '2 days and you're out' stuff was extremely stressful.

    [John]

    • Re:Worked at IBM (Score:5, Insightful)

      by theshowmecanuck (703852) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @10:55AM (#44100581) Journal
      If you know you're going to go, why do people train their offshore replacements. Just get it over with. Tell them to go fuck themselves and learn the systems on their own, then leave. If need be, start looking for work right at the outset and set that as the priority; not training the fucking offshore scabs. Then leave. If a company has that little loyalty to you, then fuck 'em, they don't deserve a work ethic of any sort, nor any loyalty.
      • Re:Worked at IBM (Score:5, Informative)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @11:22AM (#44100903) Homepage

        If you know you're going to go, why do people train their offshore replacements. Just get it over with.

        Well, I can't speak for IBM, but I've been through layoffs before.

        If they tell you you're being laid off, but you still need to do the training of your replacements, you likely only get any severance package they're giving you if you comply.

        If you tell them to fuck off and train themselves, they might say "OK, you quit so you get no severance package".

        So, if your choice is do it and get your severance, or not do it and get nothing at all, most people would choose the former. If you're in a position to go for the moral satisfaction of telling them to screw themselves, well, go ahead.

        In my case, they were laying off an entire team which maintained a product. They kept me on a little longer to do the knowledge transfer and shut off the lights, but on my next-to-last day we got a big panic from a salesman who said there were critical bugs to be fixed and a few new features to be added, and there was a multi-million dollar sale on the line.

        That, unfortunately, required that I remind them that if they had that much business on the line, then why were they cutting the entire development team? I'll help you do the knowledge transfer if my severance on the line, but suddenly realizing that you needed me to do more than the winding down process to support sales was a little much, and I was only willing to go so far.

        If we had millions in the pipeline and you've now laid off the entire development team -- well, you need to be making smarter decisions. If the accountants decide to lay off your business critical people, then you have a problem with your accountants. Having the sales guys in a big panic was just insult to injury -- I don't care that your commission is at risk, because that's not my problem anymore.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          If you tell them to fuck off and train themselves, they might say "OK, you quit so you get no severance package".

          People who have never worked for a real corporation with real benefits like severance can be excused for not understanding this. IBM is literally the only place I've ever worked that actually had severance pay. Of the megacorporations I've worked for or considered working for, IBM is the only one I'd consider working for again, because at least you get lubed before you get bent over.

        • If you know you're going to go, why do people train their offshore replacements. Just get it over with.

          Well, I can't speak for IBM, but I've been through layoffs before.

          If they tell you you're being laid off, but you still need to do the training of your replacements, you likely only get any severance package they're giving you if you comply.

          If you tell them to fuck off and train themselves, they might say "OK, you quit so you get no severance package".

          So, if your choice is do it and get your severance, or not do it and get nothing at all, most people would choose the former. If you're in a position to go for the moral satisfaction of telling them to screw themselves, well, go ahead.

          On top of severance, countries like Canada have (un)employment insurance where employees get a portion skimmed from salary, so if they're laid off there's some financial support while they look for work.

          However, you only get it if you lose your job involuntarily, and you have to have been working there for a long while. Quit (even if under duress), be fired with cause, return to school, etc are all reasons to deny you EI benefits.

          Of course, the company can *still* screw you over even if train the replacemen

        • Of course one doesn't have to be overly good at transferring such knowledge.

          I wouldn't be, and I doubt I'd be the only one. Which mucks the project up even more. You you think corporate geniuses haven't figured that out, or they just don't give a damn? They're so divorced from any reality that's not on a spreadsheet that it's hard to tell.

        • If they tell you you're being laid off, but you still need to do the training of your replacements, you likely only get any severance package they're giving you if you comply.

          Does your agreement typically say anything about the quality or effectiveness of the training? Because I'll train my local-job-destroying replacement, but he might end up with some interesting ideas about needing to regularly "git filter-branch" as part of routine builds, and about how everyone is doing unversioned server-side configuration these days.

        • . If need be, start looking for work right at the outset and set that as the priority; not training the fucking offshore scabs. Then leave.

          Ahem. Missed that, didn't you. This implies that you can start the training, but it isn't your top priority. Btw, most places don't give severance anyway. And if you used your time wisely, you'll have another job anyway. If people like you willingly make it easy for companies to replace you with people from another country, then you deserve what you get.

        • That's when you tell them that your contracting rate is $300/hour, with a four-hour minimum.

      • by gorzek (647352)

        Depends on whether they are offering severance. A lot of companies make your severance contingent on training your replacement. You want that 6 weeks of severance? You're going to train the new guy. Most people can't afford not to do that, and in this job market, you need everything you can get. I can't blame anyone for just swallowing their pride and doing it to make sure their family stays fed.

        That said, I think it is a horrible and unethical practice.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        >If you know you're going to go, why do people train their offshore replacements. Just get it over with. Tell them to go fuck themselves and learn the systems on their own, then leave. If need be, start looking for work right at the outset and set that as the priority; not training the fucking offshore scabs. Then leave. If a company has that little loyalty to you, then fuck 'em, they don't deserve a work ethic of any sort, nor any loyalty.

        I've been through the process before. Here's how it works (or so

        • If you're worth anything you will figure out the signs. It's like chess, companies don't do things without a purpose, stay a move ahead. If things look dicey don't even give them the chance to ask you to train them.
      • by moeinvt (851793)

        "If you know you're going to go, why do people train their offshore replacements."

        Severance package and unemployment benefits?

    • by unixisc (2429386) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @11:52AM (#44101287)

      Why not simply do a quick & dirty bad job of it? Prepare a few handouts, as well as, say, a quiz for the new replacements that's easy to fly through. Use that as the metric to tell the company that you've taught them what is needed, and that they are good to go. Then leave w/ the severence. The management is left w/ the impression that the offshored work force is equal to the job, and get the shock of their lives when things start disintegrating. After that, it's just a matter of time before the shit hits the fan, but by then, it's too late to take it out on the employees who've been let go.

      That way, no need to really swallow one's pride - pull a fast one on both the employers, as well as the offshore workers, and then walk away w/ the severence. Let them figure out how to run things once you're gone.

      • by turp182 (1020263)

        I like the way you think, where could I sign up for your newsletter?

      • by Sneezer (131771)

        Why not simply do a quick & dirty bad job of it?

        because it's a small industry, and the chances of your earlier choices coming back to haunt you are quite good?

        • by unixisc (2429386)

          Well, prove it. If things fall apart after you leave, prove that you were the cause of things disintegrating. The truth is that many of the offshore workers are temporary, and would be gone the moment they attain even a minimal level of competence. You could train A, B, C, D & E, and 2 weeks after you're gone from the company, B, D & E could be gone, and succeeded by F, G & H, who you didn't train. In that event, if management chooses to blame you for things falling apart, you could easily

  • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @10:52AM (#44100561) Homepage Journal

    Whenever I read news about IBM, I'm glad I got out of that place. When I joined the company in the mid-90s, during Gerstner's reign, it was a great place to work, and a very successful company. There were plenty of problems, to be sure, and Gerstner laid off lots of employees, but the company was focused on the future and on building new and successful business. The employees were generally treated quite well, performance was amply rewarded, and education budgets were generous and easily accessible to ensure that technical employees continued developing their skills and the culture was one of mutual support to get things done. For large technology companies, I think the approach to employee continuing skill development is something of a bellwether for the company's future.

    When Gerstner stepped down and Palmisano took over, however, the company began a long, gradual slide. It became cost-obsessed and quarterly earnings-focused. Some belt-tightening was appropriate during the dotcom bust, but that actually didn't hit IBM very hard. The problem was that Palmisano's leadership team had no idea how to create new business, the IBM services group that Gerstner started and used to revitalize the company was reaching a kind of natural saturation point, so Palmisano started slashing costs to prop up profit growth as revenue growth got harder to find. Even worse, the cost pressure began to change the culture of the company, creating more internal competition which began to turn ugly.

    By the time I left in 2011, IBM had become a fairly unpleasant place to work. Global Services was the worst, for example utilization targets were routinely set so high that it was impossible to take vacation time without working overtime in order to make up for it, and cost controls had squeezed out all career development funding unless you could hide it in customer contracts. Software Group was struggling and had shifted more to focus on sales rather than development. IBM has always been primarily a sales company, backed by engineering, but shifting the balance too far towards sales is a way to boost short-term profits at the expense of long-term success. I personally got caught in that shift; my job was transformed underneath me from an architecture and development role to a technical sales support role. I even hear from my friends in R&D that they were also getting squeezed hard, with increasing pressure to abandon work on any ideas that couldn't be productized within a few months.

    When I heard that Ginni Rometty was taking over for Palmisano last year I just shook my head. Rometty was a driving force in squeezing services employees with ever-increasing utilization targets and ever-tightening cost structures. IMO, IBM needs another visionary like Gerstner, not another jumped-up middle manager like Palmisano, but that's what they got in Rometty. She's a smart, talented, aggressive jumped-up middle manager, but still not what IBM needs, IMO.

    I'm glad I left. I really should have done it a few years before I did.

    • by swillden (191260)
      Oh... I can't believe I wrote all of that without mentioning the offshoring push. That was what finally pushed me out the door, the writing was on the wall that all development was moving overseas -- and not even to India, because India is too expensive! I spent a lot of time working with engineers in Brazil and Romania. Good people, but offshore development is painful -- and IBM's customers will feel that pain, until they abandon IBM.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        The funny thing is that right now many Brazilians are being laid off and their positions are going to the Philipines and India. They said one hundred people were being laid off every Friday for 4-5 weeks in a row. I'm glad I also left. I hope I can keep my decency and never work there again in my life.

    • by cmorriss (471077) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @11:41AM (#44101147)

      I'll second everything in the parent post including the joy of leaving the company last year. I had joined in the late 90's and saw the party slowly end and the crushing grip of earnings expectations squeeze every last penny out of the soul of each employee, especially anyone with talent.

      The company has been transformed by Palmisano into a company eating machine. The buying spree started around 2001 and has only increased. After each purchase of a company, any products it has are fed into the IBM sales machine which promises the world to every customer. Development then gets its hands on it and tries to graft every interface imaginable and scale it to hundreds of times anything that had ever been tried. Bandaids are wrapped on the thousands of issues that arise during this process and the product enters a permanent maintenance mode until another company is purchased with a similar product to replace it. Once replaced, it is summarily shat into the dung heap of end-of-life'd IBM crapware.

      All "innovation" in IBM is now focused simply on how to make the Frankenstein mess of products the company has acquired over the past decade work with each other in only the simplest ways. No more room for real developers and in fact most good ones have either headed for the doors or are in the process of doing so.

    • by ageoffri (723674)
      As a former IBM'er who's been gone almost a year, everything you said is spot on. Customers were getting more and more upset with the quality of service from India. The only things I'd add is that IBM totally messed up the implementation of LEAN and has become way to narrow. I was shocked when the India support team was broken down into Active Directory and Windows OS support teams. Getting anything done on a Windows server became just about impossible because tickets would get bounced between AD and OS
    • by rijrunner (263757)

      When Gerstner stepped down and Palmisano took over, however, the company began a long, gradual slide. It became cost-obsessed and quarterly earnings-focused. Some belt-tightening was appropriate during the dotcom bust, but that actually didn't hit IBM very hard. The problem was that Palmisano's leadership team had no idea how to create new business, the IBM services group that Gerstner started and used to revitalize the company was reaching a kind of natural saturation point, so Palmisano started slashing costs to prop up profit growth as revenue growth got harder to find. Even worse, the cost pressure began to change the culture of the company, creating more internal competition which began to turn ugly.

      By the time I left in 2011, IBM had become a fairly unpleasant place to work. Global Services was the worst, for example utilization targets were routinely set so high that it was impossible to take vacation time without working overtime in order to make up for it, and cost controls had squeezed out all career development funding unless you could hide it in customer contracts. Software Group was struggling and had shifted more to focus on sales rather than development. IBM has always been primarily a sales company, backed by engineering, but shifting the balance too far towards sales is a way to boost short-term profits at the expense of long-term success. I personally got caught in that shift; my job was transformed underneath me from an architecture and development role to a technical sales support role. I even hear from my friends in R&D that they were also getting squeezed hard, with increasing pressure to abandon work on any ideas that couldn't be productized within a few months.

      When I heard that Ginni Rometty was taking over for Palmisano last year I just shook my head. Rometty was a driving force in squeezing services employees with ever-increasing utilization targets and ever-tightening cost structures. IMO, IBM needs another visionary like Gerstner, not another jumped-up middle manager like Palmisano, but that's what they got in Rometty. She's a smart, talented, aggressive jumped-up middle manager, but still not what IBM needs, IMO.

      I'm glad I left. I really should have done it a few years before I did.

      At least it was Ginni and not Bob Moffat. They were grooming him for CEO. They had to scramble to find someone after Moffat went to prison. (He's sad because that cost him $65 million in benefits).

      Agreed about Global Services. Their LEAN thing a few years ago was horrible. I recall how it went for e-Business. They had a couple "pilot Programs" where they went through and switched us from dedicated syadmin teams to a call center operation. So, when the customer called in, they had to open a ticket for that,

  • by tatman (1076111) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @10:58AM (#44100605) Homepage
    Big corporations are in business for one purpose only: for the shareholders. There are good things that come from it, like our 401K and health insurance funding. However, 401K holders are little people and, come end of the day, have no voice in the decision making of a companies direction. Bean counters spreadsheets prevail at the cost of doing what is right or morally sound. It is really sad too that peoples lives are nothing more than line items on a spreadsheet.
    • Bean counters spreadsheets prevail at the cost of doing what is right or morally sound.

      And often at the cost at doing what's right for business beyond the next quarter. Almost the entire focus is on short term profit or capital gain maximization, and that has not always been the case. IBM was a publicly traded corporation, and subject to all the investor pressures thereof, when in the midst of the Great Depression they announced a no layoffs policy. Today that would probably make them a penny stock. Historically I heard they survived, and perhaps even prospered a bit.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cmorriss (471077)

      While what you're saying is true for some corporations in the U.S., maybe most, there are plenty that treat their employees with respect as long as their employees respect the company. I left IBM for just such a company and am VERY happy at my new job. IBM will slowly whither and die if it continues on its track. Natural selection and a healthy entrepreneurship continually reform the corporate landscape ensuring only the fittest survive in the long run. And to be the fittest, you have to have a healthy corp

    • Self cannibalization doesn't help shareholders either. What shareholders (as opposed to traders) want is a company that steadily grows in value forever.

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @11:03AM (#44100681)

    I wasn't aware that IBM had any American employees left to layoff, unless the CEO fired herself.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      +1

      IBM stopped reporting US employment numbers years ago. The reason is that they want to still get choice government contracts while slowly laying off the entire US workforce, save a few sales and management positions. I really don't understand how they can continue to receive the equivalent of corporate welfare while doing this. IBM is not a US company anymore - you'd be hard pressed to say that they are in any way aligned with the interests of the average american.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    IBM has been offshoring for years. I have known for a decade that working for IBM is the worst possible choice. I have been contacted several times by an IBM recruiter and I simply laugh at them.

  • by middlemen (765373) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @11:11AM (#44100767) Homepage
    The death of large firms like HP, Dell and IBM is inevitable. Whether the process of dying involves offshoring their services and/or manufacturing of their main hardware products, the cause is simply mismanagement from the top and lack of innovation on a large scale. IBM innovates in things like the Watson computer but that is a small division which if separated out from the main services division might prosper better on its own. Blaming employees in other countries who work for IBM for the reason for IBM's downfall is just bigoted nonsense and shows a closeted approach to looking at the real causes which is shitty management.
    • by unixisc (2429386)
      It would seem that Watson would be to IBM what Agilent was to HP. If IBM spins off Watson and the POWER group into a separate company, we might yet see some innovation from them. Then they can do what they like w/ the rest of the company, and let offshore employees figure out how to manage MVS, OS/400 and all their other legacy systems.
  • Dear IBM,
    Everything you sell costs too much.
    Sincerely,
    Every IT worker ever

    I hope that reaches their market research division. Maybe that will help solve that big mystery of why they're doing poorly.
    • Dear IT worker
      We are moving everything to India, Eastern Europe, Brazil, Africa and any other place we can think of. Hopefully, that should solve this problem.
      Sincerely
      IBM
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Dear IBM,

        Good luck with that.

        Sincerely

        Disatified CIOs

      • I have got the mother of all stories for you. I worked at a hospital with about a 30 person IT dept. They were all contracted on an ultra long term contract and had been there for at least 5 years. Then they told them they were not renewing because their ticket times were crap, budget was a nightware, inventory was a catastrophe, etc. They were replacing them with IBM contractors. So the current folks fired their phone staff about 9 months out and outsourced support calls to Mexico :-D Which was hilari
        • by unixisc (2429386)

          I don't disagree w/ you - I was just giving the rhetorical retort that IBM probably thinks, but wouldn't dare state in so many words, to the OP's concern about their expensive products & services.

          I have a somewhat similar story. In the company I worked, we had offshored a part of our IT to India. If you had any trouble ticket and used the corporate intranet to report it, that's where the tickets would go. Usually, it would take some work explaining things to them, but it was bearable.

          However, thi

  • Just like the Auto industry will IBM be nationalized to save jobs ?
    • Just like the Auto industry will IBM be nationalized to save jobs ?

      Under the right circumstances, it would make sense for India to nationalize IBM to save jobs.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is a racket, most of these offshore companies bid to do the support for IBM, HP and DELL.
    And you wonder why the jobs are leaving? Unless you can do the same work for a 1/4 of the price these types of support jobs are gone.

  • IBM pools its resources, maybe it's time we pool ours?

    Please donate: http://ibmemployeelegalservices.com/ [ibmemploye...rvices.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've been through supporting security for a lot of different customers as they transition in an out of my department at IBM, but I do have to say the last transition to India surprised even me. During my first meeting with the new team, two of the three individuals could not figure out why the Office2007.exe saved to their desktop would not install. I had to remind them that their laptops were linux not windows and then explain the difference. Note: Wine is not allowed and the approved installer isn't in

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