back to article Gang-briefed by IBM bosses in Hawaii? Nah, I'll take redundancy

The so-called Best of IBM will descend on Hawaii this week as a pat on the back for “delivering signature client experiences and results”. No, really. But it won’t all be sun, sea and slides - gang-briefings on “solutions” will feature heavily too. One thousand True Blues (or mini-Ginnis) will be flown to the Fairmont Orchid …

Anonymous Coward

Those giving briefings

should remember that Hawaii has several volcanoes where bodies would be lost without trace.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Those giving briefings

Funny, but lets get to the real story...

Like all other companies, IBM used to award their sales winners with trips to the Presidents Club.

However, in the past, the rules were set and you had to be within S&D to win a trip. I was matrixed in to S&D so even though I met the criteria, I was never allowed to go, until my second to last year with IBM.

The reason why you have the 'lectures' which were nothing more than a pep talk before dinner, was so that they (IBM) could write this off as a business expense.

This 'new era' could be due to the following:

1) Not enough (if any) sales reps made quota.

2) They needed a way to honor those not in S&D for their contributions.

None of those attending will be willing to toss managers into the volcano, nor will any worthy of being tossed in will attend.

But then again Rometty must be drinking her own cool aid. IBM must go thru a culture shock because they still don't get it.

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Re: Those giving briefings

Not bodies.... live sacrifices......

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Re: Those giving briefings

There is a joke somewhere in there: "A thousand computer sales reps win a holiday to a volcanic island paradise ... "

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Anonymous Coward

I'm on the edge of the tech industry, so maybe these things are already done by IBM, but if they are they are poorly advertised.

IBM need to get a broader audience. They are no longer a household name in computing amongst the youf. They need to get a broader audience first. Build a distro that appeals to the young, is easy to use, has a good update/upgrade system and is relatively safe on the web. IBM has the technology to do it but I don't know if the have the will to do it. They'll increase in irrelevance otherwise.

IBM has been losing ground since it lost the OS War to Microsoft. I don't know if it would help to fork, or maybe contribute heavily, to a distro like Mint Cinnamon, my interface of choice, and have all their software and the software available to that distro conform to that UI, any UI pick one and make it work. Support hardware drivers, including the better, new video card drivers and work toward having more games work natively, maybe with the Steam team (?), get people wanting to use that distro and used to its look and functionality. Sell support as needed.

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"Build a distro that appeals to the young, is easy to use"

IBM aren't in that market at all. They sold their desktop business, their Intel server business and their small printer business years ago. They're now mainframes, mid-range and services. They do, however, have their own server distro for mainframes. I'm not sure appealing to the young would help that.

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Boffin

@AC

When you say you're on the fringe of tech, you're basically saying you don't know jack.

And with respect to IBM, you don't know Jack.

Want to know what scared IBM but didn't scare Microsoft or Google? Getting labeled as a monopoly.

IBM used to have a tripod, if one of the legs had a bad quarter, the other two would prop them up.

Only they didn't innovate or invest in their people or products, so as the tech industry shifted, they missed the signs and couldn't react fast enough.

Interestingly enough, neither could Microsoft.

Google? Now that's a different story....

Google is a monopoly and if they were to be split... it would die. But that's another story... ;-)

And yes, I do know tech.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC

You're right I don't really, but IBM seems to have mediocre quarter after mediocre quarter. What could they do to potentially change that and get their name out to us non-techies/minimal techies in a positive way?

I know IBM has AIX and that much of IBM's software works on Linux. They doubtlessly have the knowledge to do it and I don't believe they are a monopoly any more, so it would seem to me to be quite a positive fit.

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Re: @AC

I'll bite...

I agree with your comments around IBM being scared of being a monopoly while MS and Google weren't.

I think MS have had a few bad years but have come through it despite the damage they've done to their desktop operating system and the failure of their mobile platform, their SaaS and cloud businesses will see them through the next 10 years while some of their well known contemporaries shrink or disappear.

For Google, they have a monopoly on search but they're basically an entertainment service (YouTube) showing other people's content for free and making their money in advertising. The tech company is just a front, so it's hard to justify splitting up a free service lots of people love... There infrastructure and revenue will see them continuing to dominate entertainment and advertising for some time too...

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@AC ... Re: @AC

There are some still within IBM who know who Gumby is. ;-)

To answer your question... Rometty is doing some of the right things to help pivot IBM, but there are other things that need to occur and frankly, you have to reverse a lot of things.

Just had a conversation with a friend related to this topic today... we were in agreement that IBM doesn't have the people in management who know what to do. No innovation leaders.

They have pieces, but they lack the trust to get things done.

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Boffin

@black hand ... Re: @AC

There's more to it.

But again, try separating search from their ad biz. You can't.

Force them to split out Google Analytics and not use it for their Ad Biz. You can't.

Here's the challenge.

Have El. Reg drop Google analytics from their site.

See how long that lasts. ;-)

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Coat

The Island with Bear Grylls

Can the IBMers survive on a remote pacific island using only their initiative and key performance indicators? Using some old AS/400s for heat and the staff canteen for food, watch as they try to make it to the end of the month to receive their wages. Their stay could be cut short at any time by an e-mail from HR telling them to relocate to an office 1000 miles away or pack their bags.

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Re: The Island with Bear Grylls

If they're told to relocate anywhere 1000 miles away from Hawaii, bags would simply be an encumberance.

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Re: The Island with Bear Grylls

Not if you have been forward looking, and ordered bags with built-in flotation device using the company cards...

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Re: The Island with Bear Grylls

"Not if you have been forward looking, and ordered bags with built-in flotation device using the company cards..."

Yeah, I have an 80 litre waterproof polyurethane bag which can be used as an emergency flotation device. I'm willing to lease it to an IBM exec for only $2000 up front, $1000 a year and a recommended $1500 annual support contract (call out to repair holes due to misuse may incur additional charges.)

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Coat

Re: The Island with Bear Grylls

Silly boy, how will AS/400 aka iSeries provide heat when you don't have electricity to power up the servers and if you did have the electricity... why not use it to generate heat itself as well as to help make signal fires or to create an ARC lamp which would be bright enough to get anyone's attention?

Mine's the jacket with the sat phone, XEON Strobe light (battery operated), spare battery and hand crank charger... oh and of course the jacket's waterproof and can be used as a flotation device.

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Statutory minimum redundancy payouts

...and they still have the cash to fly 1000 people for a jolly to Hawaii? I thought these sort of corporate shenanigans had all gone the way of the dodo post 2001, with the last of the breed dying in 2008.

Geesh, in my current company if this happened HR would be there on arrival informing us that we'd lost our jobs because we are clearly all irresponsible with company funds... with a US style redunancy package (jurisdiction fnarr fnarr) of zero notice, zero fucks given and on your own for the return flight as the cancellation cheque had already been cashed.

If I hadn't written off IBM as a potential employer after the redundancy outrage, then this would have been the final nail in the coffin. Who could possibly consider an employment offer from them with such a schizophrenic approach to their staff?

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Re: Statutory minimum redundancy payouts

"they still have the cash to fly 1000 people for a jolly to Hawaii?"

They may be one way tickets.

Your desk is being cleared. Please make your own way home.

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Re: Statutory minimum redundancy payouts

Senior people still have a huge sense of entitlement and fail to see how it might be a problem.

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Happy

Re: Statutory minimum redundancy payouts

@korev

Right up until they feel the soft kiss of the cool blade on the back of their necks.

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Re: Statutory minimum redundancy payouts

"...and they still have the cash to fly 1000 people for a jolly to Hawaii?"

I was thinking "...and they still have 1000 people to fly to Hawaii?"

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Re: Statutory minimum redundancy payouts

"They may be one way tickets.

Your desk is being cleared. Please make your own way home."

Not too far off the mark, I was once summoned to IBM Basingstoke (when I was based in the Midlands) just to get told I was getting benched. No idea why that couldn't have been done over the phone, saving time and money.

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Re: Statutory minimum redundancy payouts

"Statutory minimum redundancy payouts

...and they still have the cash to fly 1000 people for a jolly to Hawaii?"

One year, in the very same podcast, Ginni Rometty announced the funding was going ahead for Watson 2, oh, and that this year, staff gaining a PBC level 2 appraisal won't be getting any bonus like you used to.

So yeah, IBM will happily skimp then splurge.

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Clueless enough to be an IBM executive

"IBM need to get a broader audience. They are no longer a household name in computing amongst the youf. They need to get a broader audience first. Build a distro that appeals to the young, "

I was going to fault you for being completely unaware of what markets IBM is in and what elements are key to its business, but:

1. You admit at the start of your note that you are on the periphery of the industry, and perhaps your piece makes sense given your limited view.

2. The people running IBM, having amassed a 5 year long record of falling revenue, clearly don't understand their markets or their business.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Clueless enough to be an IBM executive

It's not the people currently running IBM I would blame, it's the people immediately before. Their plan, their strategy, the goal they set this historic and major company was to......drum roll......achieve $20 earnings per share by 2015.

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Re: Clueless enough to be an IBM executive

It's not the people before. The problem goes back to the '80s with the like af Carey and Aikers (long time IBM veterans) who were forecasting that IBM would be a $100 Billion revenue company.

Boy ,did they get that wrong. It took until Gerstner (non IBM) came along, cut the work force by 40%----yep about 40%, before things started to clear up. Since then the company has expanded and contracted personnel numbers with gay abandon.

Years of poor management, poor reading of the market place and only some reasonable execution in very limited areas.

No quick fix for this

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Cab
Trollface

20 straight months of non-growth ?

They could do with seeing some external consultants to help grow their business. I was at an event recently where there were these guys who had just the thing to help them "out-think business challenges", see they've got this AI soution called Watson that "drives innovation and growth"...

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Boffin

Re: 20 straight months of non-growth ?

To be fair... their non-growth still produced more revenue than most companies do.

Adding a billion dollars in sales to your bottom line is relative.

If you're normally bringing in 1 Billion, that's 100% growth.

If you're normally bringing in 10 Billion, that's 10% growth.

If you're normally bringing in 100 Billion, that's 1% growth.

But its still an additional Billion dollars.

The point is that its all relative.

As to 20 quarters with no growth, they are still bringing in boat loads of cash, but just not as much as they used to and they are still losing money. Rometty knows this and she's trying to pivot IBM into new business and new ways of doing things. The only problem is that IBM's staff for the most part can't pivot because most of the hanger-ons aren't worth their salary.

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Re: 20 straight months of non-growth ?

"Still losing money"...what you are talking about? IBM is making plenty of money, they are far from losing money. The cutbacks aren't because they're in the red and trying to become profitable, they're because they aren't as profitable as they used to be and the executives want their bonuses!

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Anonymous Coward

“IBMers are moving this company forward at a rapid pace."

Keep pushing guys! I can almost see the cliff edge!

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Fyre festival reloaded, anyone?

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"there was no automatic qualification based on sales quota"

Just as well as IBM is more than just sales and marketing, is it?

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Re: "there was no automatic qualification based on sales quota"

Is it?

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Re: "there was no automatic qualification based on sales quota"

Sorry, I missed the "n't". Thanks for pointing it out. :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Businesses reward the successful and sack the shitheads. This isn't some communist utopia.

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Anonymous Coward

Have you lived under communism, Comrade?

Yours truly has.

Communism this isn't, by a wide margin.

I have seen in my old firm sales staff being awarded trips to exotic destination ... and ops were lucky to be taken for a day out to do some low-budget activity.

At some point the outfit decided to play it 'cool employer' and started taking the token ops person to the aforementioned exotic destination so that the bosses don't look like total hypocrites, not because they actually gave jack sh*t about the 'great unwashed'.

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I guess you work in sales.

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Anonymous Coward

I wouldnt mind a business with $13BN Net Income at 48% margin, and 35% growth in cloud services.

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Profit and Loss ..... where the Real Winners are Serial Spinners

I wouldnt mind a business with $13BN Net Income at 48% margin, and 35% growth in cloud services. ..... Anonymous Coward

All the most profitable of newly minted businesses in the crowded cloud services sector are finite vapourware operations........ for what is profit other than money for nothing and an arbitrary additional cost and exclusive expense for the relatively free funding of fun for the few which be not a/the Chosen Few.

The profit is good business model is not a good business model as it by default and unintelligent design drivers everything to increase in cost exponentially to unrealistic levels with myriad volatile crashing points.

Is IBM now heavily also into the Vapourware Business Sector where to lead has everyone and everything ideally following your fseed with their sfeeds? Future IT is not for the fainted hearted or lily livered and less than super intelligent for the costs of failure are catastrophic crash in a flash.

Imagine casting Perl before swine to realise the Big Blue Skies Thinking Picture and true after market effect on the masses.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Net income

2007: US$13.5B

2008: US$15.9B

2009: US$17.0B

2010: US$18.1B

2011: US$20.2B

2012: US$21.0B

2013: US$20.3B

2014: US$18.5B

2015: US$15.6B

2016: US$13.1B

Margins are around the same during this period.

Considering aquisitions, disposals and overall leadership, I'm not sure where future growth is coming from but accept IBM is more about accounting than IT so am sure they will find a way...

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Anonymous Coward

Travel to Hawaii - we can't even travel to see clients

Rather amusing that IBM is flying people to Hawaii when they have apparently instigated a worldwide travel ban. In the UK it is proving difficult to even gain approval to visit clients. And it is only Q2. Not sure whether this is a profit- or cashflow-related issue ....

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