back to article IBM swings axe through staff, humming contently about cloud and AI

More IBM staffers found out they are losing their jobs this week in another wave of layoffs at the IT giant. According to insiders, workers in IBM's Business Transformations Organization, Systems Group, Global Technology Services, Global Business Services, Technology Support Services, and Storage Presales were told on …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    The American Dream

    Looks like it's a dream, all right. Go to the US, work your ass off for a dozen years or more, and get chopped like so much dead wood.

    Thank goodness there are all those unions to keep employers in check . . oh wait, silly me, unions have been emasculated under Regan. Nothing is defending the worker any more. It's just capitalism all the way down.

    Is IBM becoming the next HP ?

    1. Doctor Huh?

      Re: The American Dream

      IBM is certainly following the HP path, but HP is innovating newer ways to fail. IBM still needs to have a big merger and then start fragmenting itself. Both are circling the bowl, but HP seems a bit closer to the bottom.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The American Dream

        Not sure. I don't think HP was ever in the same league as IBM. Yes, they competed against each other in Unix and other areas, but IBM was always a much broader and deeper company than HP. The big mistake both IBM and HP made was "partnering" (read: getting screwed) by Microsoft. IBM fairly quickly, albeit too late, realized that Microsoft was snaking them and promptly distanced themselves. Today IBM has nothing to offer MSFT but blood, toil, tears and sweat (which is good). HP never really realized that they were getting hosed by Microsoft. They just bought it. Even today, when Microsoft is openly competing with them even in PC hardware, HP thinks... "well, but they are still a partner." Fool them once, shame on Microsoft. Fool them 86 times, shame on HP. There has never been a company that has "partnered" with Microsoft and not come to regret it. I don't know what you can do to fix HPE... hope the cloud doesn't happen, I guess, which doesn't seem to have great odds. HP, Inc was supposed to be the weaker of the two companies, legacy PCs and printers. Printers are going to continue to decline. On the PC side, I would go in full steam behind Google and Chrome if I were running HP. 1) That is a growing business. 2) MSFT isn't going to be able to hold off a free and, IMO, awesome OS from the kings of cool forever 3) You can actually make money as an OEM with Google. Unlike MSFT, Google will leave margin on the table and allow the OEMs to differentiate (see Samsung in Android).

    2. Guus Leeuw

      Re: The American Dream

      Dear Sir,

      <pedantic>

      who said what now?

      </pedantic>

      Regards,

      Guus

    3. Kumar2012

      Re: The American Dream

      @Pascal, if you think business should just be about handing people money go start your own and provide welfare to people, why is it that OTHER people have to do things you tell them to with THEIR money? Better to layoff a few thousand and revitalize your business than to keep going in a failing direction and have tens of thousands out of work when you go belly up.

      1. Justicesays
        Devil

        Re: The American Dream

        "Better to layoff a few thousand and revitalize your business than to keep going in a failing direction"

        Amazingly IBM seemed to have cracked the secret of managing to do both (minus the "revlitalize", I wonder how many remaining employees at IBM are feeling "revitalized" right now).

      2. Medixstiff

        Re: The American Dream

        "Better to layoff a few thousand and revitalize your business than to keep going in a failing direction and have tens of thousands out of work when you go belly up."

        As I personally know a few ex-IBM tech's, the problem is they cut the wrong people, cut the top heavy idiot's, not the tech's that do the work.

        Most clients don't remember the dodgy sales guy that promised the world, they remember the awesome tech that saved their asses when something went wrong, quality work and quality workers do more good than cheap prices.

      3. aazmi615@gmail.com

        Re: The American Dream

        IBM was IBM when they hired and retained the best design and technology talent a long time ago.

        Once IBM turned to outsourcing everything to cheap labor, the edge was lost along with quality and customer loyalty. When IBM started laying off people with 20 years of service with 4 week severance, it lost the loyalty of their own employees as well.

        IT is about creative problem solving, communication, and value innovation. You don't get this from cheap inexperienced labor who can not write a single paragraph to convey a clear idea.

      4. aazmi615@gmail.com

        Re: The American Dream

        IBM did the layoffs and offshoring to cut cost not to revitalize anything. 10 consecutive quarters now of revenue decline.

    4. Bob Vistakin
      Megaphone

      Re: The American Dream

      IBM was a strange beast. Its products and services were no different to any others apart from the typically 10x higher prices they charged. How did they stay in business? Well, it was always the top corporates executives and governments they cozied up to. Very,very cozily indeed, if you get my drift. Lots of 2 week conferences in Bermuda, where the execs families were invited too for the half day spent watching powerpoints, that sort of thing. Not a sustainable business at all - once rumbled, never repeated..

  2. paulf Silver badge
    Joke

    Photo caption competition

    My entry would be, Ginni: "Fuckin' come at me, Bro!"

    Sorry, IBM seems to be such a train wreck these days there isn't really any serious ridicule left about IBM "strategy" that hasn't already been said.

  3. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    IBM managemant plan

    IBM is being run for the benefit of its managers - they will reap fat salaries and a decent retirement / golden handshake from this as the company slowly sinks beneath the water. Think of the Titanic, with the captain throwing ice cures off the front of the ship hoping that they will form an iceberg.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: IBM managemant plan

      you could also say

      HP is being run for the benefit of its managers - they will reap fat salaries and a decent retirement / golden handshake from this as the company slowly sinks beneath the water. Think of the Titanic, with the captain throwing ice cures off the front of the ship hoping that they will form an iceberg.

      so IBM is following the example set by HP who is following the example set by IBM etc etc.

      I can't help wonder if there is a general clearing of the decks before Donald 'Build that wall' Trump gets elected in november on a 'Make Amercia Great' ticket.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: IBM managemant plan

        You move tech jobs to India etc

        Therefore fewer people needed in UK & US

        Customers don't like overseas support, so leave for another supplier

        Therefore fewer people needed in UK & US

        And so it goes on.

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: IBM managemant plan

          You argument seems to imply that those customers unhappy with overseas support leave for another customer who also provides overseas support. Shum Mishtake Shurely?

          1. AMBxx Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: IBM managemant plan

            Sorry, I'll say it more slowly and with fewer syllables next time so you can follow it.

          2. jeffty

            Re: IBM managemant plan

            Not quite.

            Customers unhappy with paying top-dollar for overseas support instead go to specialists in overseas support (WiPro, Infosys, Tech Mahindra etc) and pay far less for the same support by cutting out the expensive (and useless) IBM middle-management layer.

            Same situation with HPE.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: IBM managemant plan

            Story has it that even in the "outsource" countries, IBM is the worst paying of all of them. But IBM has training. So people will come into IBM, get trained, then as soon as they can they leave for another company.

            So IBM's outsourced support will tend to be MORE crap than anyone elses.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: IBM managemant plan

        HP is being run for the benefit of its managers - they will reap fat salaries and a decent retirement / golden handshake from this as the company slowly sinks beneath the water. Think of the Titanic, with the captain throwing ice cures off the front of the ship hoping that they will form an iceberg.

        so IBM is following the example set by HP who is following the example set by IBM etc etc.

        I can't help wonder if there is a general clearing of the decks before Donald 'Build that wall' Trump gets elected in november on a 'Make Amercia Great' ticket.

        Actually, the motto is "Make America White Again," and it doesn't look likely he'll win.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Loyalty?

    It is so nice to see loyalty rewarded. Unfortunately, you will have to look elsewhere.

    I'm so glad I was not loyal and jumped ship a few years ago.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Loyalty?

      Loyalty? Really? In this day and age? I have always been loyal to my employer until a better offer came along. It is out for number one in this game, it has been for a very long time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Loyalty?

        (AC from the original post)

        I understand what you are saying but if I were to get a better offer then the effect on my current employer would certainly have a part in my decision and I do not think that I am alone in this.

        I had no such qualms when leaving IBM.

    2. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Loyalty?

      I was also loyal... until I found out that I'm getting underpaid. And the employer just kept on adding additional responsibilities without renumeration on top of my current duties.

      When my resignation letter hit the circuit, they were quick to offer two counteroffers... but too little, too late.

      Seems the current crop of manglement types are only in the show for their own benefit, everybody else can get screwed.

      1. Electric Panda

        Re: Loyalty?

        Interesting you should mention being underpaid. One of my personal friends accepted a job outside of IBM and handed his notice in - instant retention offer with respectable pay rise beyond that of his new job. No other discussions were had, it was almost robotic. He's still at IBM to this day, although he's thinking again of leaving.

        This is in the UK by the way.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Loyalty?

      It's the employer who expects loyalty, not the employee. An employee's loyalty should only extend to the next paycheck and that's only if there's no "hold that check for a few days or it won't clear the bank".

      Sadly, IBM used to be one of the places the people loved to work for. As it is now, most of the ones I know who are still there are looking elsewhere and the ones not there, are glad they aren't.

  5. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
    FAIL

    Warning to IBM customers

    Don't expect to get any support of any use.

    Expect the people who understand your requirements to vanish unexpectedly.

    Be wary of products becoming poorly-maintained.

    Don't bet the farm on IBM.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is the way of things

    We join, we work, we look over our shoulder after 3 years, we leave/get laid off

    Best thing to do is get the name on yr resume, move and get more money!

  7. Numen

    Experience is cleaqrly overrated

    So they lay off the older, most experienced people. Obviously experience isn't important. You'd think that would apply to upper management as well. Think of the salary you'd save there!

  8. Custard Fridge

    Quite impressed it has taken this long

    I started in IT in 1994 in an all IBM shop - mainframe through to OS/2 IBM PCs.

    Given the massive changes since then, mostly not by IBM, I am frankly impressed that IBM still exists.

    Perhaps not for long now though.

    Back then the mantra could still be 'you never get fired for buying IBM' - well not any more.

    Why do they treat their staff / lifeblood this badly?

    Does anyone think beyond the next financial year / 5 year plan now?

    1. Blank Reg

      Re: Quite impressed it has taken this long

      Short term performance is all that matters now, the top brass have to make sure they make their numbers so they get their big bonuses every quarter.

      There is a very easy fix for this. Defer bonuses by several years and don't tie them to a single years performance. That will force management to start thinking beyond the next quarter.

      1. Custard Fridge

        Re: Quite impressed it has taken this long

        I'd be interested if anyone out there works for a company that actually does this - mine doesn't...

      2. fajensen Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Quite impressed it has taken this long

        There is a very easy fix for this.

        No, there isn't. As soon as performance metrics exists, those metrics becomes the true goals for the organization and everything else secondary to that. Some time after that, the smart people come to realize that it is much easier to move the numbers directly than it is to produce the results that the metrics are supposed to measure.

        I.O.W: People will cheat.

        The cheating is rewarded because making the numbers is rewarded, very soon the best and brightest staff will dedicate all of their will, smarts and efforts towards gaming the system while the actual thing that is supposed to be delivered goes to hell.

        Eventually, it is clear that the ship is going down - this is then the straight-up looting starts; Like, on ones the way to the lifeboats on the Titanic, of course one will pass the bar and grabs some bottles to make the trip more enjoyable. It's not like anyone will count the stock, is it?

        Humans do not work the way that economists and manglement consluttants insist on. Or maybe the former know this and but also know that by enabling fraud and looting, some of the spoils will come their way?

        Reference:

        "Measuring and Managing Performance in Organizations" Paperback – January, 1996

        by Robert D. Austin (Author), Timothy R. Lister (Foreword), Tom DeMarco (Foreword)

        ISBN-13: 978-0932633361

        1. chris 17 Bronze badge

          Re: Quite impressed it has taken this long

          @ fajensen

          this is what's happening in the NHS & Education in the UK

          chasing metrics rather than the real business of healing or educating.

          drop the metrics & watch productivity improve.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Quite impressed it has taken this long

          No, there isn't. As soon as performance metrics exists, those metrics becomes the true goals for the organization and everything else secondary to that.

          Maybe, but... does that mean we remove ALL performance metrics?

          How do we evaluate who's our best salesman then? pick a name from a hat?

          And if we're eliminating any performance metrics (which is basically impossible from a finance and accounting point of view), then what is the goal of the company for the next year? "Be the bestest maker of something?"

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Quite impressed it has taken this long

        Short term performance is all that matters now, the top brass have to make sure they make their numbers so they get their big bonuses every quarter.

        Exactly. The old "Maximize shareholder profit" has become "Maximize shareholder profit over the next 12 months"

      4. Mark 85 Silver badge

        @Blank Reg -- Re: Quite impressed it has taken this long

        There is a very easy fix for this. Defer bonuses by several years and don't tie them to a single years performance. That will force management to start thinking beyond the next quarter.

        Nice idea but the stockholders won't stand for it. They want their dividends and stock value increases now...

    2. fajensen Silver badge

      Re: Quite impressed it has taken this long

      Why do they treat their staff / lifeblood this badly?

      Human Resources works the same way as other resources like coal, iron-ore or oil: Set up a process to Extract the maximum amount of value in the most economically efficient way. Once the value has been extracted, we dispose of the waste.

      PS

      5 years is heathen Communism! In business the proper planning- (or more correctly event-) horizon is "when can my stock options be exercised".

      Fun fact is that politicians always go for decades instead - this is because the longer they sit, the longer they get paid and the longer people have to wait for their "reforms" the slimmer the odds of anything happening that gets them unelected.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Enabling fraud and looting ...

    Enabling fraud and looting...became official policy when a middle manager was hired to lay IBMer's off in the US in order to send jobs to cheaper labor offshore. When same middle manager was arrested for insider trading a few years later, upper management fired him and made like immoral/fraudulent/illegal behavior wasn't _their_ idea.

    Rumours in the Poughkeepsie area have been circulating for months about this coming layoff, heard it from an IBMer at the dump [officially a 'Transfer Station'] when dropping off the weekly trash.

    1. Alistair Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Enabling fraud and looting ...

      @<Poughkeepsie AC>

      Was he dumping off a couple of employees?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Enabling fraud and looting ...

        Wow. I didn't think there was any IBM left in Poughkeepsie. I guess there are some managers there.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Enabling fraud and looting ...

          Wow. I didn't think there was any IBM left in Poughkeepsie. I guess there are some managers there.

          IBM Pok is only the main campus now. They have long ago sold off any of the satellite buildings, and have been slicing of and selling any of the pieces of that site as possible. What they can demolish they will do so. One cluster of buildings is nearly emptied out; the state of NY was supposedly going to take them over at one point. Someone suggested the state wouldn't even have to do any modifications on them, as they *already* had that dank, civil-service look to them.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    better to leave...

    Hmmm, as a recent RAer (you like what I did with the IBMer), I have to say that at the start it was a suckerpunch, but after polishing up the old CV and getting it out there, and getting snapped up pretty quickly for a better salary and role, I'm pretty happy.

    Anyone in the RA position, my advice is go and acquire an incredibly large hangover for a day (and the process involved in getting it), get the detritus of IBM out of your system and go get the next role.

    Its also incredibly funny as once you are settled in a new role, the people still inside IBM send you their CV trying to get out - usually the lifers!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: better to leave...

      Its also incredibly funny as once you are settled in a new role, the people still inside IBM send you their CV trying to get out - usually the lifers!

      At one interview with a placement agency I asked if having worked at IBM was becoming a black mark on your resume. They grudgingly admitted that yes, it was heading that way.

  11. Frank N. Stein

    Really??

    Makes one wonder. They laying off perm and hiring contractors?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really??

      They're trying to. I was one of those who left last year (with a decent package, thankfully). I still talk to former colleagues and yes, there are still customers who want work done; many of them have got themselves into lengthy contracts with IBM.

      IBM, having sacked most of the skilled workforce, attempt to fob them off with someone in India, who can't do the work, as they are thousands of miles away, 4 1/2 hours ahead, have lack of experience, and cannot comprehend the customer's business and how what they are doing relates to it.

      So yes, they're apparently trying to fill the void with contractors, or at least want to. I've not seen any contracts show up on the usual job boards.

      It has also come to my attention that where IBM have no obligation to do work for a customer, they are simply turning it down as they don't have enough skilled people.

      Naturally, as someone else mentioned, the customer decides to get a different product next time. Hey, they may even decide to buy some new technology, like cloud, analytics or the other ones. IBM gets crossed off the list rather quickly.

  12. Arachnoid

    Box ticking

    Unless your manager ticks all the boxes for company performance for that quarter you the employee are as valued as a chocolate fire guard.No matter how long you have shown loyalty,dedication and bitten your tongue when a new manager [intern] finds "better ways of working".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Box ticking

      Er, no. In my case, the team was doing very well, and making a lot of money. We were part of a larger division, which overall, in the UK, was also doing well and turning a profit. However, head count must be reduced so managers were put under pressure to come up with names. I helped mine by volunteering.

      I actually miss the work, to be honest, and I also miss most of my former colleagues. I don't miss IBM, the politics, the miserable atmosphere, the crappy salary, the lack of prospects, the contempt of employees and customers, etc. etc.

  13. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    FAIL

    15 years [at IBM] this month,....my last day will be November 29 with four weeks' severance

    That is an incredibly shitty severance package, especially for a profitable blue-chip corporation. The usual in the U.S. is 2 weeks per year of service, but of course there are no actual laws governing that.

    Remind me that IBM treats long-term employees like cattle, if you ever hear me talking about going there.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Keep shrinking it grandma

    If they keep shrinking the company, eventually it will be small enough to be acquired in a hostile takeover by Starbucks. Then your servers will be just as burnt and overpriced as their coffee. (oh wait, IBM equipment/services are *already&* overpriced. I guess they'll have to add the crappy burnt taste separately).

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmmm.

    All I can say is that the IBM sales people must be very, very good at giving hand-jobs to the PHBs who keep signing up with IBM. I work for them (assimilated, not by choice), and seeing what I see, knowing what I know, I would steer well clear!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmm.

      So are you planning to leave? Anything stopping you?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmm.

        Only misguided loyalty to a lot of friends. But out of those left, we're all looking.....

    2. Mr. A. N. Onymous

      Re: Hmmm.

      So, what's your handjob technique?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmm.

        :)

        I'm not in sales (they're in a different league), but you still wouldn't be able to afford me.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Silly You

    "silly me, unions have been emasculated under Regan."

    I'm at a loss to understand this. Are you speaking of Reagan? Do you think he is still President?

    He left office 30 years ago and passed away years ago.

    And as a past member of unions in the US (Teamsters and CWA) I can tell you: You don't have a clue what these unions are about.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1 in 18 leaving GBS UK

    Second round of redundancies this year. Was voluntary but not enough applied so now involuntary. Statutory legal minimum offered. Those most at risk are likely those with the worst contractual terms. Just lost a solid colleague with over half their career in IBM. Sad.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 1 in 18 leaving GBS UK

      I've just realised that when I was first offered a (voluntary) redundancy by IBM over 16 years ago, it was 40% higher than the statutory amount offered this time round. I'm still here, but I wake up most days wondering why.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IBM is turning pink( slips)

    I was at IBM during the boom of RISC and AIX. Around 1999 they laid off thousands and hired them back as contractors the same day so they could kill the pension plan.

    All the building I worked in in Austin are gone ..as is most of AIX.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was at IBM during the boom of RISC and AIX. Around 1999 they laid off thousands and hired them back as contractors the same day so they could kill the pension plan. I left after 5 years. The bureaucracy was depressing .

    All the building I worked in in Austin are gone ..as is most of the AIX and RS6000 teams. IBM sells Intel servers today.

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