back to article IBM kills Global Technology and Global Business Services: It's all ‘IBM Services’ now

IBM has plans to help its ailing services business with a re-branding exercise that will see its Global Technology Services (GTS) and Global Business Services (GBS) operations emerge as a single entity named “IBM Services.” Internal communications about the change seen by The Register said it was made because “in the era of …

  1. Mayday Silver badge
    Devil

    ...and "resource actioning", "restructuring", "sacking anyone who is not Ginny" in 3...2...1.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That is what I was thinking. A reorg which will result in shedding people.

      What IBM should do is try to become the cloud broker. You have AWS, GCP and Azure for IaaS and PaaS. Then there is also SFDC, Oracle, and 400 other SaaS companies (although many of them now run on AWS or GCP behind the scenes). IBM should create a Spinnaker style overlay for all of that IaaS, broker the resources as well as the integration piece (which was one of IBM's primary capabilities). They could even resell Aurora, Google Spanner, etc. Of course in order to play that role IBM would likely have to ditch their own cloud, which is probably going to happen at some point anyway, to be truly neutral. The other issue is that they wouldn't be able to make as much cash as the businesses they are replacing, but those businesses are going away slowly anyway... and they could have an infrastructure outsourcing business and a somewhat competing cloud broker business at the same time, just like they had Unix and mainframe for years. They could own that market and then the IaaS becomes a commodity behind the scenes. Let Google and Amazon take on the capital intensive work of building data centers, laying fiber everywhere, etc while IBM plays the software provider... similar to HP, Dell, Cisco, etc and VMware. Actually VMware would be in prime position to do the same, but that would mean they were ok with the KVM or even (I know) Hyper V hyper-visors under their management layer. Innovator's dilemma for both of those companies. The new thing is eating the old thing. The old thing was either larger or more profitable than the new thing... still better to have a stake in the future instead of being relegated to a profitable legacy bin... and you can have both, milk the on prem stuff for as long as you can while moving to the next thing.

      1. Bob Vistakin
        Windows

        IBM have their own cloud? Gosh.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          IBM have their own cloud? Gosh.

          Well - they had to do *something* with all those old mainframes that other people are no longer using..

      2. Allison Park

        They already have this its called Brokerage....was Gravitant

        They bought Gravitant years ago and renamed it Brokerage services. Problem is customers are not ready to truly use cloud services agnostically.

    2. CujoDeSoque

      It's all about head count at this point. Maybe they ran out of technical people they could off shore and they're finally going after the middle managers and what they can below that level.

      The problem is that IBM cannot run low margin services due to their overhead and can't deliver on the vanishing high margin ones.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        “The problem is that IBM cannot run low margin services due to their overhead and can't deliver on the vanishing high margin ones.”

        I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here. The whole model seems to be a cheap offshore based delivery (be it India, eastern europe etc). But they pay lower offshore than many of their competitors, and struggle to deliver a cheap service. At the same time the aggressiveness of the annual onshore cullings has left only a sprinkling of people both willing and able to keep the lights on for existing customers.

        Its difficult to see where the IBM board of directors expect any future business to come from. Maybe they’re relying on Watson to become sentient in a couple of years time and tell them the answer ?

        1. Yes Me Silver badge

          "Its difficult to see where the IBM board of directors expect any future business to come from."

          They're not there for that. They're there to ensure that Ginni and her best friends continue to buy back enough stock that their holdings and options keep them in the excessive luxury to which they are entitled. I believe it's known as "shareholder value".

          Of course, eventually somebody will turn off the money tap at the mains.

      2. HmmmYes Silver badge

        They cant deicer low margin services due to their overhead.

        They also cannot deliver products high skilled, high paid individuals due to their bureaucracy and focus on management being top dogs.

        Fucked.

        But then so are a lot of orgs.

    3. ciaran
      Angel

      I, for one...

      I, for one, welcome our new exponentially intelligent overlords! Especially if they are pervasively fueled.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I, for one...

        You wrote:

        I, for one...

        I, for one, welcome our new exponentially intelligent overlords! Especially if they are pervasively fueled.

        And when you read the article, you can see this quote:

        “More than ever,” the message to remaining IBM services staff read, “clients need a trusted partner who can provide strategy, business and technology consulting and innovation as well as matchless execution.”

        And I agree with what was said. However, I seriously doubt that clients who need a trusted partner will find that in IBM....

        1. PeterM42

          Re: I, for one...

          I've Been Misled!

  2. James Anderson Silver badge

    In the great IBM tradition

    If the customers hate the product ..... Just change the brand name.

    Never worked before but maybe this time.

    1. deevee

      Re: In the great IBM tradition

      Sounds reasonable, what is IBM's cloud offering called this week?

      Smartcloud? Softlayer? Bluemix? IBM Cloud?

      1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: In the great IBM tradition

        Jackass Cloud?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: In the great IBM tradition

        The IBM internal proverb: "change the name to Tivoli something and it'll fail miserably".

  3. Mark 85 Silver badge

    If I read the fluff (and I did), with all their touting of "experience", "innovation", blah-blah-blah.... then why is the company going to hell in a hand basket? Is that they don't use what they preach?

  4. I'm Dugly

    Itsy Bitsy Mismanagement

    That is all.

    1. Overcharged Aussie

      Re: Itsy Bitsy Mismanagement

      Idiots Become Managers

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Itsy Bitsy Mismanagement

        Idiots Become Managers

        To be fair - this is fairly pervasive throughout corporatia..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Itsy Bitsy Mismanagement

      What you get when you let an engineer that drank the marketing koolaid aided by marketing wonks and bean counters run things.

  5. deevee

    It was "IBM Global Services" a few years ago, then split into GTS/GBS, now back together as "IBM Services"

    I guess its just not Global any more!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The plan was to call it IBM Indian Services, but the resource actions are running behind schedule...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Substract the repeating Gs and you'll get to real acronym: TBS, or Terrible Bull Shit.

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Coat

    IBM “has the most skilled, [..] IT and business consulting professionals in the world.”

    Sure, right up to the moment they lay them off, or disgust them enough that they leave on their own.

    1. HmmmYes Silver badge

      Re: IBM “has the most skilled, [..] IT and business consulting professionals in the world.”

      Nope.

      In the 80s/90s, the last time anyone really paid much attention to IBM, they had the most IT people. A lot of times, they had the *only* IT people.

      IBM were expensive, clumping, process bound but they did have people and they did deliver products.

      Its not the PC that killed IBM; its the competition.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: IBM “has the most skilled, [..] IT and business consulting professionals in the world.”

        Its not the PC that killed IBM; its the competition

        And the failure to actually put into practise what past heads of IBM came to realise: "adapt to the new market or die".

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: IBM “has the most skilled, [..] IT and business consulting professionals in the world.”

      Sure, right up to the moment they lay them off, or disgust them enough that they leave on their own.

      Of course, hence the reason for the buttering up.

      IBM nonetheless told its people that “the most telling manifestation of IBM Services is how each of us show up, every day, bringing our professional expertise to clients.”

      See, they've told they staff they are world class, just for not succumbing to the despair and not bothering to turn up in the morning.

      Well, either that, or they are encouraging their employees to camp out on customers lawns in protest until they buy something....

  7. Lost In Clouds of Data
    Devil

    Heh

    “More than ever clients need a trusted partner who can provide strategy, business and technology consulting and innovation as well as matchless execution.”

    So, I guess that knocks IBM out of contention, then...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Heh

      It knocked IBM Global Services out of it.

      IBM are hoping IBM Services will start with a clean slate. Other than for their "years of experience" of course...

  8. FozzyBear Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    "how well they capitalize on exponential intelligence fueled by pervasive technologies"

    Ok, I think we have a winner already, for the best meaningless marketing bullshit for 2018.

    It's early in the year I know, but I'm calling it.

    "If you can't dazzle them with the detail, baffle them with bullshit" - Me.

  9. Mark Exclamation

    “In the era of the cognitive enterprise, when business and technology architectures are merging, our clients understand their success depends largely on how well they capitalize on exponential intelligence fueled by pervasive technologies.”

    - Who writes this crap?

    1. ST Silver badge
      Angel

      > Who writes this crap?

      The Bullshit Generator.

      The point is not merely to benchmark best-of-class adjacencies. The point is to prioritize our tailor-made operating models while securing a resourceful core capacity. As a Tier 1 technology company, we will disintermediate best-of-breed speedups while convergent markets reconceptualize their organizational baseline.

      See? I can do this too.

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        bullshit!

        .. sad isn't it,.... back in the noughties I worked for an ISP that had a 'Mission Statement' that could easily have been created by the 'Dilbert Mission Statement Generator' (that used to be a thing), but still, nearly twenty years later, PR types are still producing this nonsense.

        A colleague of mine knocked up a .vbs app for iPaqs so we could play 'Bullshit Bingo' in meetings. : -)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "The point is not merely to benchmark best-of-class adjacencies. The point is to prioritize our tailor-made operating models while securing a resourceful core capacity. As a Tier 1 technology company, we will disintermediate best-of-breed speedups while convergent markets reconceptualize their organizational baseline."

        I keep thinking this must mean something - it's disturbing...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          >In the era of the cognitive enterprise

          There it is again. Like everything which comes out of IBM, it has to mention "cognitive" like it fucking means something relevant.

          (sigh)

        2. Teiwaz Silver badge

          I keep thinking this must mean something - it's disturbing...

          blah blah, best-of-breed, blah blah, disintermediate?

          My first thought was 'is this something to do with Crufts?' And disintermediate? Is that that medieval punishment where they remove your organs in small pieces in front of a large audience.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            is this something to do with Crufts?'

            Sadly, Crufts has also ceased to mean "the best of breed". It's more about "closest adherance to breed standards" even if that breed standard results in dogs that can't breathe or breed unaided.

            (CF: Pugs or bulldogs for the former and miniture dachsunds for the latter)

            1. Teiwaz Silver badge

              or breed unaided.

              Sadly not true for Marketing people...

              As to this IBM rebranding effort - the most that can be said is this had been known to work for Pubs, but only until the Novelty has worn off, then they are back to fixing the actual problem or do another rebranding.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          My God there are a lot

          of 'z's in that statement.

          My translation after 13 years within IBM;

          We won't actually decide what things both organisations are good at, we will insist on doing out own thing while keeping the few people who can avoid being fired. We're big so we will push a few profitable services while firing half of everyone else.

      3. deadlockvictim Silver badge

        Weird Al — Mission Statement

        This is appropriate here. The video is nice too.

        Weird Al — Mission Statement

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyV_UG60dD4

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      - Who writes this crap?

      Someone with an MBA in Marketing. Universally recognised as adding no value whatsoever to a company.

  10. Tim99 Silver badge

    Who writes this crap? A sociopath of average intelligence and ability who was fortunate to develop from the right gametes, and attended the right schools and university?

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      nd attended the right schools and university

      And/or has bought the right-sounding degree..

  11. CujoDeSoque

    What does this amount to? Let's start a list!

    1. It will stop the customer from being able to blame one or the other, now they get to blame one group that will promptly devolve into internecine fighting that allows them to bill the customer more.

    WIN-WIN, bay-beeeee!

    IBM Marketing: Anything to obfuscate what we can't deliver.

  12. CujoDeSoque

    Just remember this and never forget it!

    They are trying to fix the stock price, not the company.

    1. Stu Mac

      Re: Just remember this and never forget it!

      I'm sure you're right and like some pyramid scheme there can be only one end to the story.

    2. PassingStrange

      Re: Just remember this and never forget it!

      I afraid that's been pretty much the case for decades. In my perception, it's been a long time since the folk at the top were less interested in vesting their extensive stock options and milking the company for what they could get out of it, than they were in keeping up its long term health. IBM is moribund, and has been for years; it's just taking a long time to die. And probably still will.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trusted to sack project staff half-way through the project.

    " capitalize on exponential intelligence fueled by pervasive technologies.”

    Except then they sell you on their custom system or support software.

    "“More than ever,” the message to remaining IBM services staff reads, “clients need a trusted partner who can provide strategy, business and technology consulting and innovation as well as matchless execution.”

    Trusted to sack project staff half-way through the project.

    Big Blue reckons that the change will “increase awareness of the powerful talent that GBS and GTS bring to our engagements.”

    The only powerful talent at IBM is in the sale & marketing. Everyone else is just an interchangeable commodity. Everything else is just overhead.

    The letter later says that IBM “has the most skilled, innovative, results-driven IT and business consulting professionals in the world.”

    Did before 18 years of 'exponential' layoffs.

    IBM nonetheless told its people that “the most telling manifestation of IBM Services is how each of us show up, every day, bringing our professional expertise to clients.”

    Until that fine day when IBM tells you how much it values you and your loyalty by laying you off.

    "Those plans appear to have been hatched by Bain & Company"

    What is this, a Batman movie? Oh, well at least IBM now realizes it doesn't know how to run a services company and is seeking help. But is this the blind leading the blind?

    Do what Bain & Company should have done. Display your exponential intelligence by staying well clear.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Trusted to sack project staff half-way through the project.

      Do what Bain & Company should have done. Display your exponential intelligence by staying well clear.

      Well - I suspect that they made several tanker-loads of cash out of providing (essentially) meaningless soundbytes so they are going to be laughing all the way to the bank. Followed by a swift renaming so that the pervase stench of failure doesn't follow them. Either that or blame it all on a rogue intern..

    2. niksgarage

      Re: Trusted to sack project staff half-way through the project.

      I remember when IBM proudly claimed that the average experience of an IBMer had been reduced to five years, and claimed this as a benefit since it showed they had a young, dynamic work force. I left shortly after.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Trusted to sack project staff half-way through the project.

        Just think of the money they save by not giving out long service awards.

        Got the T-shirt.

  14. Randall Shimizu

    IBM has more business and IT capital than any company today. They consultants that have experience various fields. IBM has hired health care professionals or insurance executives for example. While it's true IBM will have to cut back. They key for IBM is reduce personnel on the basis of skills and knowledge as opposed to pure costs to the company. The other thing to remember is that despite all the hype of clouds and there still many companies that don't trust cloud computing and or have no need for it. Even with all the security promises cloud providers make they still cannot guarantee that the data will not be hacked. This is one reason why IBM's Z-14 with their end to end encryption has been so successful.

    1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Z-14

      Z series 'successful'? I guess that's why I've only seen two in the wild. And it was two because the site I was working at had mirrored datacentres, and was a bank. Don't think we'll be seeing one in the corner of every datacentre somehow.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Z-14

        @Randall the problem with what you say (apart from the first sentence, obviously) is that the "cloud" is exactly where IBM is hedging its bets. You are absolutely right that the take-up of cloud is a small fraction of the hype but IBM stopped investing in the bits it was good at a long time ago. The healthcare part is because they were desperate to find something where Watson could actually be beneficial; sifting through tons of medical research and patient data and filtering out the crap is something it's good at, to the extent that it can potentially point researchers in the right direction. This has the potential to be a serious money spinner, in contrast to pretty much everything else IBM does.

        @Grunty, Z is a cash cow and will continue to be one in the future. I've seen plenty of them in the field although most IT departments (other than the direct operators) want to get rid of them but struggle to do so thanks to lock-in. They are also on the whole pretty dependable beasts.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Randall Shimizu

      What the hell are you smoking!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How to be an IBM consultant

      1. Ask the customer what they want

      2. Recommend an IBM solution that requires extensive customisation to do the task badly

      3. Think of a number greater than what you think the customer can afford and multiply it by 10.

      4. Pray to god that the customer doesn’t sign it off.

      5. If the customer does sign it off, desperately try and find engineers who can provide the solution.

      6. Sell it as a success in the hope you will be moved to the next project before the customer smells the turd that’s being laid...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Services is tough

    Services/outsourcing was a cashcow for many years. Just think of the large revenue $ that IBM made during the Gestner years.

    Huge deals, lots of clients wanting outsourcing companies to do their dirty work. Unfortunately sales/outsources overpromised and generally under delivered. Companies would ask for % savings per year and what else could outsourcing companies do but cut costs. The issue for IBM and many others is they didn't automate (aka should have bought ServiceNow), however hired armies of IT SMEs/middle management instead. Then tried moving jobs offshoring ... but still having lots of manual processes/red tape.

    Now that companies have moved to selective sourcing - ie. handing out work to smaller more nimble companies, it's tough going for IBM, DXC, HCL etc.

    ... smart move by AWS and Microsoft to stay out of the outsourcing business (leave that to partners to do the dirty work)

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Services is tough

      it's tough going for IBM, DXC, HCL etc.

      Hang on - I'll get out my violin.

      Nope, can't find it. It's been downsized to match and now needs a scanning electron microscope to spot it.

  16. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    So, does this mean IBM are going to get rid of some middle management?

    Meanwhile, GBS,... I have some rivalry there,... well, a sore spot from when they f*cked me over.

    An account that shall remain nameless was in the red, compliance and SLA wise. So it got handed to my team to make compliant, as GBS wouldn't touch it. We fixed everything, and got the account into the green, when the Service Manager said 'thanks' and then handed support over to a team in GBS. Said team then tried to bill my team for the work _we'd_ done. We'd costed it to the Service Manager as BAU on the proviso we got the ongoing support (the hard work was done upfront, after all).

    I doubt this was the only sour deal between the two sides, this 'merger' might put a few noses out of joint.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds to me like the first step in selling off the services organisation.

    Which would, in the long run, be a very sensible move. Or it would be if they hadn't spent the last 20 years gutting their product, research and development arms.

    1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      You know, I thought that when it was first announced they'd hired Bain.... reading this I think they are going to sell off _most_ of the services wing, but keep some and assimilate the support of those into GBS, er, 'IBM Services'. I guess Bain are helping them make the cut. Anyway, sounds like it's tata to many IBMers. Sorry, Tata for many IBMers,... Tata are one of the few that could afford to buy the old GTS catalogue.

      1. SecOps

        My thougts also

        My first thought was this is just a step toward just selling the whole damn thing off.

        Bain: You should sell the divisions

        IBM: Well ok, but how do we get ready to do that

        Bain: We'll make it look less complex by merging them and then we can move some of the staff around to areas you want to keep.

        IBM: That sounds great, we're good at moving people

        Bain: Our invoice is in the mail, you won't believe how many hours we billed thinking this one up.

  18. ForthIsNotDead

    Bollocks...

    “In the era of the cognitive enterprise, when business and technology architectures are merging, our clients understand their success depends largely on how well they capitalize on exponential intelligence fueled by pervasive technologies.”

    ^^^ As long as they continue to spout bullshit like this, which can be identified at a 1000 yards by any sensible budget-holding IT manager, they are fucked.

    I work for a large water company with massive OT/IT infrastructure, as you would expect. IBM (the company, not the techs that we deal with day-to-day) are a laughing-stock here. We do business with them through gritted teeth.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Bollocks...

      identified at a 1000 yards by any sensible budget-holding IT manager

      Yeah - but a sensible budget-holding IT manager is very rarely trusted to make decisions about outsourcing. Otherwise there would be a whole lot less of it happening..

    2. Hargrove

      Re: Bollocks...

      “exponential intelligence fueled by pervasive technologies”

      Apologies for lack of originality here, but kudos to @ForthisNotDead for having taken the only apt title for a post on this article.

      I once worked on a project whose proponents promised to eliminate the need for expensive subject matter experts by collecting all the technical data available in an electronic shoe box and using a semantic query to retrieve "the best answer to any technical question within seconds."

      The goal was to eliminate the need to spend about 3 million dollars a year to support committees of subject matter experts. The cost of saving the 3 million was estimated at 40 million/year. The fact that no one in the USG saw anything funny about the math explains a lot about the US deficit. (OK, in fairness, the proponents did postulate that once built the system would be used for lots of other things justifying the investment.)

      The problem is that at the end of the day, such a system cannot deliver as promised, even theoretically. Tom Fawcett's paper on the subject presents a concise and readily understandable explanation.

      http://www.hpl.hp.com/techreports/2003/HPL-2003-4.pdf

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quote amended.

    No-one gets sacked for buying IBM shares, they do lose money though.

  20. spold Bronze badge

    I would bet it is primarily an opportunity for more people to be sent out the door. However the internal relationship between the two groups was toxic. Mainly because if a GTS initiative or opportunity let in a GBS person they would instantly try and take it over and paint it GBS, that kind of behaviour is encouraged by daft metrics - so GTS learned to keep them at arms length, which means a client was dealing with two groups that would not co-operate.

  21. Richard 51

    Re: Working as intended

    The article says IBM is consolidating GBS and GTS into IBM Services, well that is true as far as external brands but the units are not merging. This is an external branding exercise. So what changes?

  22. deevee

    “increase client awareness of the powerful talent that GBS and GTS bring to our engagements.”

    I'm, pretty sure IBM clients know exactly what IBM isn't bringing to the table, this won't change a thing.

    “puts a name to what we as IBMers have always known: that GBS and GTS practitioners are"

    I'm pretty sure IBM staff know they are just lowly unrecognised "servants" - "IBM Services" is a good name.

    All it tells us is the PWC buyout has finally been totally subsumed by IBM, and they have got rid of so many former PWC staff, they no longer need to pander to them with a different reporting line.

    This would also explain why they are using Bain consultants for further RA's, as there is no one left from PWC.

  23. yogtheyoung

    The only thing innovative IBM has done over the past 25 years is to figure out new ways to lay off people.

  24. yogtheyoung

    My mind is but a nebulous void sucked into the vast intellectual dichotomy that is Watson...

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