back to article Jingle bells, IBM tells more staff it is D-day ♫

IBM's Technology Support Services (TSS) teamsters in the Global Technology Services (GTS) UK division are braced for further job cuts as they enter yet another redundancy consultation process. Staff received the memo on Monday, the same day that Big Blue told its people working in the IS Delivery department, also housed within …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    walking dead

    Its pretty obvious IBM will cease to exist in 5 years time.

    I can't see any company in their right mind lining up to buy anything from IBM. Going forward it'll just be more and more in-sourcing and dumping IBM.

    At least companies will be able to set their own IT agenda, and not have to deal with cheap monkeys overseas, with no clue, and no ambition, and pretty much no native english language skills.

    1. Munchausen's proxy

      Re: walking dead

      "I can't see any company in their right mind lining up to buy anything from IBM. "

      IBM seems to be very well placed in the early development of actual quantum computers. I don't know if that will turn out to be a real thing or not, but if it does, it will probably be a massive game-changer, that could leave IBM sitting on top of practically infinite possibilities.

      I wouldn't bet against their executives screwing it up, but their smart people do have something going on that's worth keeping an eye on.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: walking dead

        I won't dispute that IBM have very smart people, unfortunately they don't appear to be present in senior management.

        Effectively, IBM is an accounting company that dabbles in IT - they were financed by their mainframe business, allowing them to dabble in numerous unsuccessful areas (at least for IBM), they buy in products, milk them with as little development as possible and while trying to drag customers into the larger IBM ecosystem before the customer gives up and moves to another product or accepts their fate and sticks with the product in the hope that IBM provides an acceptable update.

        IBM are very healthy, but they are slowly burning through their reserves and keeping the numbers up by selling off parts of the business/laying people off to keep things looking healthy. I would question if they have now cut a little close to the bone and the cuts have resulted in fundamental changes in customer revenue (i.e. selling the server business results in less associated software sales and less integration work for their professional services business which results in cuts to professional services resulting in them being less able to deliver customer solutions etc)

        As far as quantum computers goes, I agree they are leading the pack. And in technology, the first to market does not guarantee financial success.

        1. wolfetone Silver badge

          Re: walking dead

          I wouldn't say they'll be gone in 5 years, but I definately don't think they'll be an American owned company.

          1. steviebuk Silver badge

            Re: walking dead

            I suspect the Chinese will buy them as they did the Lenovo brand.

      2. Patched Out

        Re: walking dead

        "IBM seems to be very well placed in the early development of actual quantum computers....that could leave IBM sitting on top of practically infinite possibilities."

        Heh, heh, I see what you did there!

    2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: walking dead

      With the current crew of incompetents and bean counters ruining the company they are already a shell. I can not think of a product they have that someone is not doing better at a cheaper price. Itsy Bitsy Morons have been running on their past glories for a long time and it shows. Declining sales and profits is a signal to the morons in charge you are doing something very wrong.

      One of their problems is a large portion of software is becoming a commodity product. On many products the used feature set is much smaller than the available features and a version 3 or 4 releases is more than adequate as far as features.

    3. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: walking dead

      Its pretty obvious IBM will cease to exist in 5 years time.

      On the contrary, IBM is a successful, high margin mega-corp. They have been deliberately surrendering low margin sales over the past few years, letting the low rent outsourcers pick up that business. They're trying to create a dual model - the actual delivery is moving to all offshore, cheap as chips, no better than anybody else, but the front of house sales is all white-collar, high-tech image, respectable, top dollar.

      That's the importance of Watson and the Cognitive Systems division - margins high, sales low, but hugely important in making prospective buyers of the commodity services believe there's something different about IBM, even though they're not themselves buying those advanced services. If they keep to the plan of cutting costs, the expect margins will pick up, and they won't need to worry about chasing low margin revenue growth. The Reg harping on about shrinking revenue is missing the point, even though it is correct.

      Of course, this illustrates the worst face of international business. IBM are (almost) as bad as any other US tech company at tax avoidance, they're trying to abstract a huge amount of money from target markets (eg the UK), then transfer half of that value to wage slaves in Chennai, Mumbai etc, and the other half to the US shareholders, with the minimum value left in the local market. IBM want to take from this market, use the full benefit of freedom of trade, of the UK's stable commercial and legal systems, but give nothing back. Mind you, I'll wager they publish a pretty brochure all about their "corporate social responsibility".

    4. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: walking dead

      "cease to exist in 5 years time."

      I doubt that, although I can see them being almost unrecognisable in 10.

      IBM has a pretty large portfolio of patents, and an active research dept coming up with new technology and new patents, they'll still make money. It might be driven by Watson 3 running on a Qubit architecture, who knows. I can see them being far smaller and focusing on research, rather than shifting boxes. Unless they have robots pushing the boxes out of the door, of course.

  2. old_IT_guy

    why stay?

    When the ship is so obviously sinking - I suggest that 22 profitless quarters, that's five and a half years for the innumerate, qualifies as a sinking ship - don't wait to be pushed, look for a new job. As an ex-IBMer you (whoever you are) will find it easier to get a new job in the sector than most. The lure of a redundancy payment shouldn't be sufficient to offset the erosion of your quality of life as you work for an organisation in terminal decline.

    1. trevorde

      Re: why stay?

      it is only revenues which are declining. The company is still profitable, despite itself.

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        it is only revenues which are declining.

        Well, that and shareholder value.

        Which is why a company that still makes money can be said to be in a death spiral. Stupid, but inevitable.

      2. Yes Me Silver badge

        Re: why stay?

        Yes. That's probably because of what I noticed in my first week at IBM many years ago. Revenue per employee was way less than for the then NASDAQ leaders. A lot has changed since, but if they keep on firing people that ratio keeps on getting better. Until the day everybody competent to support customers has left, of course. Then it can turn bad very quickly indeed.

        So... when should I sell my shares?

        (Several years ago, is the answer.)

    2. Whitter
      Unhappy

      lure of a redundancy payment

      What rather surprises me as an onlooker is that there is anyone still left outwith low-wage employment zones. Everyone knows they plan to shut-up-shop anywhere else, but they have been taking rather a long time to actually do so, which can only have a cumulative negative effect on the performance of staff who are waiting interminably for their inevitable pink-slip.

      At least do the decent thing given the company strategy: get on with properly funded redundancies and put your current staff (whom you have a duty of care to) out of their misery.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: lure of a redundancy payment

        although there should be growth in the UK post-Brexit as EU hosted workloads are on-shored

    3. Pavlov's obedient mutt

      Re: why stay?

      couldn't agree more. I jumped the sinking blue ship of shit nearly 5 years ago after the most miserable 18 months of employment in my life. Best decision I ever made.

      But truly I feel for those that endure the abuse and misery. Or worse, have no real choices and live on a hope and prayer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: why stay?

        Same. It's been a comfort watching them decline since my departure.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: why stay?

          Me too. Though it feels more like being a survivor on the lifeboat watching the Titanic go down.

    4. MarkW99

      Re: why stay?

      Profitless? IBM makes about $5billion a year. IBM is shrinking, but it isn't exactly loss-making.

    5. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: why stay?

      Some people fear leaving a place they've known for years and being the new person all over again.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: why stay?

        Some people fear leaving a place they've known for years and being the new person all over again.

        I would also think that there's a large group hanging on just because they're close to retirement age. Hopefully they get to see retirement and not have heart attacks from the stress.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: why stay?

        Lunatics?

        Prisoners?

        Patients?

  3. trevorde

    Provide a first class service, right up until the moment you are made redundant! If that is not demotivating, I don't know what is.

  4. Lee D Silver badge

    John Spartan, you have been fined five credits for violation of the "No Christmas talk until December" statute.

  5. GrandBleu

    Armonk

    Everything run from Armonk, by a cheerless, hapless bunch of spreadsheet Jockeys (apologies to those who race horses, for a living), who know the cost of everything, but the value of nothing...

    In 5 years time, Ginny will be sitting in a caravan illuminated by Cherenkov radiation.

  6. shifty_powers

    Am I the only one who thinks of

    http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-secret-true-history-jingle-bells-batman-smells/

    everytime I read jingle bells?

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge
      Pint

      That was very interesting, thanks for the link!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IBM... the f*cking xmas grinch!

    Seems like they do it annually, just to make their employees miserable.

    Thoughts and sympathy are with the people that work there - don't give up, there are plenty of other roles out there, even consider making a career shift (hint hint, lots of money in security at the moment!).

    Good luck..

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: IBM... the f*cking xmas grinch!

      I had a boss who knew he had to let a person go on New Year's Eve weeks before that, but who refused to tell him because "he didn't want to ruin Christmas".

      I argued loud and long that he should tell the poor guy so he could curtail any unnecessary over-the-top spending (typical middle class American behavior, fixed in the next two months of frugality which this guy would not have).

      Eventually he did tell the chap, but right before Christmas, when it was too late to do any good. Result: The exact reverse of lessening the pain.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      "described management as "spineless ***** to do this over the Christmas period"

      Probably their Xmas bonuses will be higher if they axe people in time. So not "spineless", just very greedy. Scrooge would be proud of them. Unluckily, no Spirit will visit them.

  8. spold Bronze badge

    Seems to be two similar articles here - apologies for same comment as the other one...

    People don't understand that Watson HR is now in charge (AI (Artificial Idiot) trained by Ginni and Catbert)).

    It used to be in IBM that you could calculate salaries by (years of service x number of characters in your title), Watson has enhanced this so that (years of service x salary) determines your place in the next-out-the-door list - truly a breakthrough in AI. It has always been traditional to swing the axe in January (even had silly code names for some of them - remember "Chrome" (putting the shine on a bell-end company)) and what we see now is the same, however last year smaller exercises were performed every quarter.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Psychopath bosses 101

    I really cant understand why people cant be allowed to enjoy the end of the year in blissfull ignorance and be told about this mid january.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Psychopath bosses 101

      To allow it to be reported in the end of quarter summary

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Psychopath bosses 101

        In IBM you're not a person. You're a "resource" or a "head count".

        Really, nobody gives a shit about you. It's all for show. Which is why I keep getting spammed on LinkedIn by every IBMer I'm connected to (well over 100) letting me know that they're certified in some pointless internal accreditation which basically means they watched a corporate video of something which is wholly irrelevant outside IBM. I don't want to unfollow them because some of them actually have useful things to say.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Psychopath bosses 101

          Not only are the internal certifications only useful internally, IBM (at least in the US) also has an internal CV format which is near impossible to convert to be outside-world useful.

          Mine was hard to convert with only 11 years in, but I've tried to help some former coworkers who's only professional experience is at IBM, and it's nigh impossible. The only thing useful were the dates in the different roles.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Psychopath bosses 101

            >Not only are the internal certifications only useful internally, IBM (at least in the US) also has an internal CV format which is near impossible to convert to be outside-world useful.

            Ah yes. I remember that.

            Skill: Learning to cope with redundancy.

            Level: Acquired.

            Skill: Finding a better job with much more pay and job satisfaction to boot.

            Level: Mastered.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Psychopath bosses 101

            And remember, you're not supposed to include client names. It is an absolutely worthless format. Almost as worthless as the organization itself.

        2. Stevie Silver badge

          You're a "resource" or a "head count".

          Luxury! We used to Dream o' beiin' 'eadcount er resource.

          We wuz assets, and proud to be assets.

          But yer tell the young 'unz terday and the dorn't believe ya.

        3. deevee

          Re: Psychopath bosses 101

          Its probably in their latest "Checkpoint" goals, "must certify at something" and "Must blast it all over social media to promote IBM"

          Otherwise you'll get the now non existent (officially, but not in reality) PBC 3 rating.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Psychopath bosses 101

      Because if they terminate before the end of the year, they don't have to pay the now-yearly company portion of retirement fund contributions. Used to be they paid much more often, but now they sit on it and pay yearly.

  10. Tim99 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Insanity?

    Repeating the same thing and expecting a different result? Declining revenues over 22 quarters, reducing the local headcount, and revenues have not increased. Amazingly, cutting costs by offering a service that customers might consider suboptimal have not turned things around.

    1. PrivateCitizen

      Re: Insanity?

      Amazingly, cutting costs by offering a service that customers might consider suboptimal have not turned things around.

      This. A million times this.

      IBM generally provides services which are so mediocre you'd have to assume that some form of backhander or bribe has taken place for them to be engaged. It now looks like they are going out of their way to make it worse by generating an environment where anyone who is good enough to find a new job will do...

      No IT service manager in their right mind should consider engaging IBM now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Insanity?

        I used to work in IBM services and I always provided a top-rated service. I couldn't help myself; none of it was the customers' fault.

        There was no reward in later years though, other than a PBC1, which translated to "fuck all pay rise or bonus".

        I took the money and ran.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Insanity?

        Once IT service managers stop employing ex-IBM staff there may be a revolution in IBM against lay-offs. The only reason to hang in is the certain knowledge you can do much better outside once you get the redundancy money.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's the most wonderful time of the year

    If you are IBM management or a beancounter it seems.

    Thoughts are with the poor hardworking bods that are being shown the door.

    Redundancy is bad anytime of the year but it's definitely worse around Christmas and New Year.

    Good luck folks, I'm sure you'll find an employer that values your talents very quickly.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Silver lining

    The positive view is that they will get out of the hugely de-motivational 'Personal Business Commitment' process.

    Do they still do that? Or have they realised now that telling the majority of their workforce that they are mediocre for just doing their job isn't great for moral?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Silver lining

      PBC is replaced with some McKinsey-esque quarterly bean totting tool thing called Checkpoint, at least in America. How is it used? I don't know, based on anecdotal evidence obtained by interrogating employees, it seems like Watson scrys the data and decides only the c-suite is entitled to a pay raise.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Silver lining

        Same thing different name. It’s more ‘agile’ in the sense that you’re supposed to update it all the time instead of at the end of the year but hey.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Silver lining

          No change then. I am astonished by the number of IBM employees seeking an endorsement for just doing their job.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Silver lining

        > PBC is replaced with some McKinsey-esque quarterly bean totting tool

        I suppose "bean totting" is a form of "totty for accountants"...

  13. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    The fun part is that the people being used as Outsource Resources (pauses to refit teeth) are all in places where a little geography knowledge should put the fear of the weather gods into the C-level IBMers.

    Of course, no-one has had proper geography lessons in decades, and Social Sciences classes are an excuse to sleep in most schools.

    As it is, the first test of the new outsourced customer support and ticket resolution systems will be about the same time the monsoon hits.

    "Trouble Ticket could not be opened due to river Ganges now in basement machine room".

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Employee Consultation

    So surely the employee input would be that no employee layoffs will happen, but that an axe should be taken to upper management. It is a consultation, right? There, problem solved and in the spirit of the season I'll waive my normal consultation fee.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meh

    Whilst many are outraged at this taking place over the Xmas period, there's rationale behind it, which is that if you're about to get flung out the door, you might want to hold off on buying lots of expensive presents this Christmas.

    Don't forget, many people get themselves into substantial debt this time of year. This gives them a chance to show caution instead.

    I'd rather be told now than the start of January when I've rooked myself.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meh

      IBM pay salary in advance each month. So laying off in advance of Christmas is consistent.

  16. IGnatius T Foobar
    FAIL

    India Business Machines?

    India Business Machines, the former technology company?

  17. steviebuk Silver badge

    Sad to see

    Not nice to happen anytime but at Christmas its worse.

    Its a shame due to the interesting past history of the company. I suspect LGR (Lazy Game Reviews) doesn't like the current IBM compared to the old. Sorry but any time I hear IBM now it reminds me of LGR.

  18. Bob Vistakin
    FAIL

    They were rumbled a decade ago

    They've always charged 10x more than anyone else for basically the same thing. 25 years ago when I was at BT this was the inside sick joke, but because we were all only dealing with corporates it was the norm.

    The rot set in 10 years ago, and the chickens are now firmly home roosting.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missing the point

    I work at IBM.

    And yes IBM sucks, but........

    Commenters here are misunderstanding the news of Support redundancies against what IBM is famous for.

    IBM still build mainframes, do big data, involved in advanced research into ai or quantum computing etc. These things are still going on.

    The redundancies are all in the cut throat outsourcing support departments that IBM have no specific fame or history for.

    IBM promised better cheaper support to their customers and are delivering that the same way their competitors are, by off shoring, cutting staff and any other way they possibly can. They know that the people their customers had that understood IT now belong to IBM and the customers judge performance on sla’s delivered to managers/business people with no clue and are easily gamed.

    The goal is to deliver a barely acceptable service at minimum cost, they don’t get paid for over delivering while under delivering is a sales opportunity. Things that would just get done in an house IT support department get assigned a pm, an architect (12 year old fresh out of wherever with a piece of paper worth more than what is written on it) and stupid delivery dates of many weeks that are just a 2 minute job. The business manager has no clue so IBM get to whack up the charges.

  20. Rosie

    Ex IBM-er here, made redundant in the May 2016 UK GTS cuts, now working for one of my ex-customers and taking pleasure in holding IBM feet to the fire - yes, the service is truly appalling, and whilst frustrating it certainly beats the hell out of constantly looking over your shoulder expecting the grim reaper to give you the finger.

    Sympathy for those who are about to get the bullet. However, on a more positive note if you're decent there are opportunities out there for sure.

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