back to article IBM turns panto villain as The Reg tells readers: 'It's behind you!'

The meltdown in corporate spin at IBM was apparent last week after the flames of publicity were fanned by The Register's report on the firm's proposals to redeploy tens of thousands of Global Technology Services staff. axe on chopping block Black & Blue: IBM hires Bain to cut costs, up productivity READ MORE Insiders gave us …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "the company is hiring expensive consultants and discarding their opinions."

    It happens all the time. If they confirm executives are right, and no changes are required at their level, the opinion count, and is widely publicized.

    Whenever the consultants find the the issues are mostly at executive levels, that past decision were wrong and caused more issues, and real changes are required at that level, the opinions are quickly binned and forgotten.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "the company is hiring expensive consultants and discarding their opinions."

      Wait, are you talking about IBM, or the companies which hire IBM?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "the company is hiring expensive consultants and discarding their opinions."

        > Wait, are you talking about IBM, or the companies which hire IBM?

        Yes.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "the company is hiring expensive consultants and discarding their opinions."

          If only I were on those rates. But I did wonder at times, they are paying me money for help and advice, and then not acting on them.

          Anyhow...

          The rebel in me wore a "The Register" T-Shirt at an IBM location once.

          The coward in me wore a Shirt over it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "the company is hiring expensive consultants and discarding their opinions."

            I use my LOHAN mug every day, but then I am not an employee, just a scumbag contractor providing skills IBM have long since removed from their own workforce.

    2. veti Silver badge

      Re: "the company is hiring expensive consultants and discarding their opinions."

      Consultants are just that: consultants. They're not managers. They can advise and suggest and recommend, but in the end the decision belongs to the management. Who are the ones who will have to live with it.

      Of course a lot of recommendations will get binned. Otherwise you might as well get rid of the management team entirely, and just hire consultants to make every decision.

  2. wolfetone
    Trollface

    "The story was published and not one person called The Reg to tell us we were incorrect. Not one."

    But did they email you? Have you checked your spam folder?

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      And what about the carrier pigeon? Have you checked its perch recently?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Have you looked out of the window in case of you missed some semaphore messages? The flags are a giveaway.

      2. Steve Hersey

        Carrier pigeon? Oops.

        The vulture ate it.

        1. Alistair Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: Carrier pigeon? Oops.

          @Steve Hersey:

          YBMTI. Cannot upvote enough.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Carrier pigeon? Oops.

            Vultures are carrion eaters. What killed the pigeon within reach of ElReg's beak?

            1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

              Re: Carrier pigeon? Oops.

              What killed the pigeon within reach of ElReg's beak?

              It read the message.

  3. m0rt Silver badge

    Whereas I love a good IBM bashing, simply because they seem to be run by arrogant disks, I also really feel for them. Like any company, the company is not a shell inhabited by people, it is the entire thing together. Like a body. So when you get part of the body attacking another part in such a manner, like a cancer, then it is a sad thing all around.

    1. iron Silver badge

      arrogant disks?

      Do they look down on all the other disks?

      1. James 51 Silver badge
        Angel

        Re: arrogant disks?

        Probably from the good place.

        1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

          Re: arrogant disks?

          Hard Disks - One of the group of "DASD" devices in Ye-Olde-IBM terminology

          1. John Styles

            Re: arrogant disks?

            Decades ago we had someone move into our group who did PC software from one who did IBM midrange software, there was a certain amount of mutual incomprehension as the terms he used for everything were different (library for directory was particularly baffling IIRC)

      2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        Re: arrogant disks?

        They look like a redundant array.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Solution

      Fire Ginni. Cancer gone in one stroke. This is her strategy.

    3. Numen

      It's discs. IBM had their own spelling.

      1. PhilipN Silver badge

        Own spelling ... and

        IBM had its own everything.

        Like starting the first of a bunch of program or OS diskettes, and the first volume in a multi-volume manual, at 0!

        How many man-hours were wasted by guys trying and failing to boot or install from Disk 1, or start studying that new program or OS from volume 1.

        Kee-rist!

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Own spelling ... and

          You're new to computers, aren't you?

  4. ecofeco Silver badge

    You would think, wouldn't you?

    IBM's workforce, particularly in front line field services, should be the company's crown jewels. They are its feet on the street.

    But nope. The email round robin manglement are pretty sure they ARE the crown jewels.

    And that front line? Temp workers not actually on IBM's payroll.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You would think, wouldn't you?

      @ecofeco

      IBM's workforce, particularly in front line field services, should be the company's crown jewels. They are its feet on the street.

      When I started in the company, for a client facing group, I was told by one of my colleagues that our manager would only hire externally or internally from other client facing groups. Reason? "North Harbour mentality" was the term that was used. North Harbour being the UK HQ at the time (nominally, it still is). He was also proud of the fact that we bought in revenue for the company, whereas the "internal account" spent what we bought in

  5. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    attrition w/o backfill

    Lovely. Open graves.

  6. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    How long would IBM last if

    All those non management staff all got up & left en mass & gave a collective finger as they went?

    How long would IBM last if the only folks left to do the actual work were now managers & higher level folks whom probably couldn't count their arse cheeks twice & come up with the same correct answer both times? (Thanks for that last one Mr. Travaglia!)

    If the only ones at IBM left to do any actual work were the same ones that haven't seemed to have done any, then how fast would IBM collapse into its own gravitational black hole of stupidity?

    I'd love to see their entire low level workforce get up, walk out, & refuse to come back as long as current management practices are in place; no temp or contract worker touch them with a 3+Meter barge pole in a gesture of solidarity; and only manager level folks left to be the new peons.

    I'd love to see the meteoric crash & burn as all IBM's customers demanded compliance with their support contracts, but IBM not have enough skilled people to do so.

    And then said striking workers come back en mass to unionize & lay an opening bid on the negotiating table.

    "You want us to come back & pull your arse from the fire? Then we want better pay, better retirement plans, & that bitch's body for use as a rugby sacking dummy."

    I wonder how fast IBM would have to cave in to the demands of their newly unified workers before/lest their support contract penalty clauses turned their (C-level execs) "golden parachutes" into lead albatross' around their necks?

    *Wistful sigh*

    I know it'll never happen, but the thought of all those C-level execs being used as rugby sacking dummies makes me smile in a most unprofessional manner...

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: How long would IBM last if

      .... "India's Best Men" start demanding pay rises?

      1. Lysenko

        Re: How long would IBM last if

        English is an official language in India with obvious implications for quality of service and therefore medium-term costs. I'm sure the C suite already has plans to shift work to Cambodia or Ulan-Bataar once this becomes a problem (for bonuses) with the Watson initiative papering over the linguistic cracks until a complete shift to chatbot based services becomes tenable. A minor wetware staff will be retained for highly technical work like delivering brown envelopes to C suite peers, minding coats in Michelin starred restaurants and securing Wimbledon centre court tickets (the core competencies of "Enterprise Sales" in other words).

    2. Robert D Bank

      Re: How long would IBM last if

      This sort of shit has become so common, across the world and in almost every sector. It just gets worse, especially as bigger companies absorb smaller ones. Barely a week, or at best a month goes by without hearing about another huge bunch of poor bastards being spat out of the grinder.

      There's likely to come a time soon, maybe we're very close as automation increases rapidly, where most people have nothing to lose (except debt) and fuck all to look forward to. In fact by far the majority of the worlds population is already in that position, the difference to us is it is coming to the west. Some will probably just get depressed and take enough smack, alcohol or whatever and fade away, but there WILL be a very sizeable and very angry mob with a lot free time and ingenuity to be exercised.

    3. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: How long would IBM last if

      @ Shadow Systems

      "rugby sacking dummy."

      You seem to be mangling 2 different variants of English, games involving a non round ball.

      Sacking as a term is common in US Football, not in UK / commonwealth rugby AFAIK (with possible exception of N. America where the term may well have crept in from US football)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How long would IBM last if

        Sacking is what happens to the manager that fails.

      2. Sir Loin Of Beef

        Re: How long would IBM last if

        But....

        In the UK sacking refers to a manager who was let go by a club. In the US we call it being fired.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    offering nothing but statutory minimum

    IBM, or any other organization, does not "offer" statutory minimum redundancy terms. They are forced to provide them by law.

    Presumably, since statutory minimum redundancy terms are somewhat miserly, and they refuse to do better, it's easy to form an opinion that what they actually would want to offer is nothing at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: offering nothing but statutory minimum

      "Presumably, since statutory minimum redundancy terms are somewhat miserly, and they refuse to do better, it's easy to form an opinion that what they actually would want to offer is nothing at all."

      That is a strategy that has been seen before. Creating a rotten working atmosphere will get rid of those who can find jobs elsewhere, meaning their payout is zero.

      Even at the UK statutory minimum of 1 week per full year's service, consider how much dosh that is for someone who has been there for 20 or 30 years.

      Don't forget that for folks TUPEd in from elsewhere, relatively young companies can find themselves with staff whose effective length of employment is greater than the age of the company.

      1. JLV Silver badge

        Re: offering nothing but statutory minimum

        So true. But the risk is also that those who remain are those who truly could not make a go of it elsewhere. Sure, some of that will be due to people's personal circumstances, but as you turn up the "nasty factor", it'll be more and more skill gaps holding them back.

        And, of course, you're gambling your customers are too thick to spot that.

      2. scotposter

        Re: offering nothing but statutory minimum

        Ah, you forget or don't know, statutory minimum in the UK is capped at a maximum payout of around 14k. The 1 weeks per annum, is capped at a max of £489 (or something like that) per week, so doesn't matter if you earn double that per week, only 489 counts towards the capped max payout.

  8. JohnFen Silver badge

    "Reskill"

    Oh, a new obnoxious buzzword! I'd not seen the term "reskill" before. Hopefully, I'll never see it again.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Reskill"

      Oh, a new obnoxious buzzword! I'd not seen the term "reskill"

      You can "re-skill" your workforce by running training courses, or internal projects to develop experience before offering it as a service to customers. But IBM have redefined it to mean saving on the costs of this by simply ditching people with skill X and hiring people with hot new skill Y (and in 3 years, skill Y and become skill X so repeat). They also call this "remixing".

      The real mystery to me and everyone else is, why do people with skill Y flock to work there still? If IBM literally couldn't hire anyone, they would be forced to treat their existing workforce sanely.

      1. discalced

        Re: "Reskill"

        In DXC, it's called Workforce Refresh.

      2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: "Reskill"

        'ditch X, hire Y',....

        That seems to be the new direction, check out the jobs offered at IBM 'Client Innovation Centres' in the UK, they offer 23 month contracts, to prevent hires achieving employment rights, which kickin after two years. So the new IBM has designer obsolescence built in, hire keen graduates with the latest skills, then bin then after 23 months, rinse and repeat.

        Meanwhile, on 'reskilling' the existing workforce,.... during our induction after we TUPEd, we were told we'd get two weeks training per year, not necessarily classroom, but we'd be free to take CBT courses from their catalogue. Ha. Two weeks not getting billed to a client? This lie was quickly exposed once we started getting CLAIM nags, hell, you'd get nagged for not billing overtime to your clients, let alone falling under 100% utilisation, so if you wanted to take an course, you'd have to do it on your own time. I spent 14 years with IBM, and went on precisely two classroom courses in that time. One, because I passed through 'The Skills Centre' a one off fad thing that managed to grab a small budget, so when I was benched after one of my jobs was offshored (it happened more than once) I got to go on a course with QA before starting my new role. The second course I got I was backfill, because one of the original attendees couldn't go and it was too late for a refund, so I went in their stead.

      3. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: "Reskill"

        "You can "re-skill" your workforce by running training courses, or internal projects to develop experience before offering it as a service to customers."

        Yes, I understood its meaning completely. It means "training". That makes it no less obnoxious, but par for the course in the corporate world.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: "Reskill"

      It's not new, it was certainly in use in the early '70s when I was first advised to do so ... If you hate "reskill", you'll probably positively abhor "upskill".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Reskill"

        Historically, re-skill meant something the company helped you with (if you were employed by them) or something that you do between jobs.

        Within IBM, re-skill means "we think skill X might be hot but aren't too sure. If you retrain in it, you might not lose your job come the next round of redundancies". Given IBM's inability to execute, the chances of you using your new skills within IBM is almost zero. Although there are rumours some people have moved to new areas within IBM GTS, I've never meet any of them in-spite of working with hundres of them in the past.

        If offered the chance to re-skill by IBM, look outside IBM for what to retrain in and enjoy your new life outside IBM...

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: "Reskill"

        I'd heard "upskill" years ago. It's about equally abhorrent, in my opinion.

    3. Norman Nescio

      Re: "Reskill"

      I thought it was a new pronunciation - "rez-kill" - meaning to get rid of ('kill') 'resources' deemed superfluous for the current day-to-day operation.

      Actually providing training at the company's cost to make someone more employable in this day and age sounds like fantasy.

  9. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

    International Banking Madness

    It gets better, during the last five years of decline. The CEO has trousered $100 Million. I'll give you a clue for free. If you need a consultant, you don't have the expertise. #canyouimagineifitwassomeonegood

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IBM is proud to be in the forefront of workforce training and development

    In all the years I was at IBM (almost 20) I was only ever allowed to do 2 external training courses, after a huge amount of justification and pleading to be allowed to do them. There is never any money in the budget for training, NEVER. You can put whatever you like in your "Development Plan", your manager will approve it, but you are never allowed to go on training.

    IBM's idea of training and development is to put billions of meaningless slide shows on the intranet, and let you try and find them, and do them on your own time, and insist you do at least 40 hours of it every year, UNPAID.

    Actually I've seen recently a lot of my ex collegues spamming Linkedin with some meaningless "acclaim" certifications. No doubt some other meaningless web based rubbish from IBM.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: IBM is proud to be in the forefront of workforce training and development

      Current IBM cloud seller here. I have to respond as although working for ibm sucks in many ways, one way it doesn’t suck is training. IBM has some of the best training on the planet, and if they consider you worth the investment they’ll spend big bucks on your development. In the last 12 months I’ve been to Interconnect in Vegas, Cloud Fast start 2017, Top Gun, Global Sales School (4 weeks face to face, plus loads of curated and coached theory), and end of this month I’m off to Madrid for the 2018 cloud fast start. I and most of my colleagues have the opposite problem to you - we’re swamped by ‘mandatory’ training and have to fight to find time to do our actual jobs.

      Think40 is paid, you can do it in work time (and most do). Acclaim badges are a useful addition if you want to profile yourself to management (they love that stuff)...

      In short, your experience is not typical. Unless the training you wanted to follow was unrelated to your business, in which case I can well imagine your manager didn’t want you following it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: IBM is proud to be in the forefront of workforce training and development

        The acclaim badges are a good way of getting yourself unfollowed on LinkedIn.

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