International Business Machines (IBM) as a software and services company offers top notch, reliable consulting and both hardware and software products. Unlike IBM competitor, Oracle Inc., it does not hide costs in software contracts, and unlike Microsoft Inc., dominatrix of desktop market share, IBM does not strong arm partners in order to increase marketshare. Microsoft, however, does maintain both a competitive and working relationship with IBM.
To IBM's credit (as of this publication date,) Big Blue sets the standards for exemplary business services, and is regarded to be "the best;" but fails to deliver the message. IBM has many reasons to celebrate success. IBM also does not dispel the myth that it is the industry's most expensive solution for business operations. As Madison Avenue's darling, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, locked in as IBM's ad-agency in the mid-1990s, someone should ask why, after a decade of servicing the technology giant, old myths [still] persist.
"I was so impressed with
IBM, it is truly a respectable company, like starting at the
Jeffrey Allen Miller
However, on employee issues such as "retaining key talent" or remaining a patriotic (made in the USA) corporation, IBM loses any right to brag. No big deal to shareholders, but should be of concern to current and future employees. Businesses of all types now outsource to Asian countries; however, they outsource without having first transitioned their loyal workforce in the States.
In the following four articles, you will read a insider's view of working at IBM. The author, Jeffrey Allen Miller, dedicated nine years of his career in a number of IBM roles -- webmaster, editor, executive communications manager, and e-commerce strategist -- before the company's layoffs in 2004. Miller was not laid off for lack of or poor performance, as his employee review records will show in pages ahead, in fact he was an exemplary employee and received the maximum raises allowed during each of his nine years at IBM.
When Miller joined IBM in July 1995, he says, "I was so impressed with IBM... it is truly a respectable company... like starting at the top." Nine years later, as part of an IBM Resource Action (layoff) on 1 March 2004 along with 47 other employees from his corporate division, he has no real regrets. He says, "I'm not one to look back... when I returned my laptop to 590 Madison Avenue (in New York City), I walked out of the building, hummed 'Thanks for the memories,' and proceeded to plan my next career move -- okay, what do I do now?"
The author compares working for IBM to a marriage ending in divorce. "You meet, fall in love, argue and make love, and the sex is really fabulous! And then you find out she is in love with someone else... someone who doesn't challenge her like I do... with someone who keeps his head in the sand. There is simply nothing you can do to attract her again," Miller said. While Miller doesn't believe his outspoken views against the (George W) Bush administration led his employer to include him in the layoff as opposed to help him retrain for a hot job inside IBM, he says, "It is an interesting theory to contemplate though, considering [George W] Bush donations from IBM's past and present CEOs." Ironically, Miller worked for IBM's training business for the past three years.
In IBM's 2003 layoff, CEO Sam Palmisano told the press that IBM was shedding several thousand employees who no longer have the skill set IBM needs. It was a careless blunder that [then new] CEO Palmisano no longer makes upon announcing company layoffs, but such a comment is not a surprise. Considering Palmisano's fundrace.org (type in Palmisano, Sam) and Louis V. Gerstner's 2004 contributions of $2,000 each to George W Bush's re-election campaign, the three blend as kindred spirits among talking heads. Former IBM CEO Gerstner now lists his occupation as "chairman of The Carlyle Group." (The senior Bush and Saudi Royal Family oil consulting business.) Sleeping with politicians is a nasty habit to take up, as former ENRON employees would confirm. However, balancing a company upon the idea of teamwork while following the a political motto of, "You are either with us, or you are against us" will ultimately find no winners. Miller describes the lost art of teaming and some of his favorite IBM executives in part two.
With an IBM corporate directive to "retain talent," one top executive blasted the Wall Street Journal after the newspaper published a story (March 2004) showing that new hire jobs at IBM were planned mostly for India and not the USA. IBM's Randy (Randall) MacDonald wrote an editorial saying that IBM has extensive retraining programs to help retain IBMers. So, how would an exemplary employee -- who works for IBM's training business -- fall through the cracks?
IBM's e-Business Strategy
While IBM claims to be the e-business leader, the IBM web user experience (ibm.com) has created tremendous internal animosity across the company in recent years. Some fight for the ability to lead the website design, some walk away frustrated from lack of speed to innovate, some tout design awards as key to their personal success... but the biggest problem facing IBM's website remains a simple one: The user experience fails to impress the most important people -- IBM customers.
Comments are shortened for brevity as needed, grammar was not changed.
Name withheld at request:
"Please don't print my name, but I'm furious with IBM. My husband works for them in Poughkeepsie and he was let go after 19 years. Now with their outsourcing trend, this one company threatens the livelihood of the entire Hudson Valley. I fear the same thing will happen to Poughkeepsie that happened to Kingston [NY] -- IBM killed Kingston. How can one corporate giant be allowed to ruin so many lives? Were are the politicians when you need them? Where is Hillary Clinton on this issue? Why isn't anyone protecting our friend's and family's jobs?"
"I really hate IBM for how they treat employees, and my heart goes out to people like yourself who have dedicated themselves to a company that doesn't appreciate the effort. I'm glad I no longer work for them."
Name withheld at request:
Putnam County, NY
"Thank you for publishing this insight into IBM. Executives and processes at IBM work to quiet employees from speaking out. This company was a fun place to work back in the 1980s, but those days are gone. They either scare you with annual PBC rating restrictions, or blackmail you into 'not suing' them with an exit package. This is how corporate America works now. I don't like it, but I'm still employed with IBM, and I'm hanging on for five more years until I can retire. You are lucky, you are still young enough and will be fine in the end."