Forbes: How to Fix IBM

I’ve been waiting for this article, since IBM announced that they were abandoning their 2015 plan (I think that a lot of people were calling it “Death March 2015”). The money quote comes early in the article:

IBM forgot the most important part of running a business.  While shareholder value is important, it is customers that make business possible.

On Global Services:

IBM’s Global Services have seen the worst cost cuts and the most layoffs.  These cuts have hurt many of IBM’s customers.  Many contracts have been cancelled and sales lost.  IBM is no longer considered to be a trusted supplier by many of its customers.

On “The Cloud,” emphasis, mine:

The biggest market for Cloud Saas is not with IBM’s huge legacy customers, it is the other 80 percent of the market consisting of not-so-big companies that IBM has served poorly (if at all) in recent years.  They will want something this is cost effective and “just works.”  IBM does not have in its product portfolio the business applications these customers need.

On Mobile:

IBM should be partnering with Apple, Google, and yes – Microsoft.  There should be no favorites.  IBM already has a mobile deal of sorts with Apple but it is key to understand that it has so far resulted in a total head count increase in Cupertino of two workers, whch shows what Apple thinks of IBM. Apple is not enough.

But, more importantly, Robert describes serious management issues. Throughout the organization. Those problems may never be resolved. After all, those people rarely see themselves as the problem/roadblock.

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One Response to Forbes: How to Fix IBM

  1. Wow! That was scathing, and pretty accurate (I bothered to read the original, but your summary was accurate). My outside look is that the IBM executives are worried about their IBM career, not making great products. Notes and Domino is not a career path at IBM, so it gets little attention. Cloud is a career path, so that gets a lot of attention.

    Follow the internal politics and you can guess the product roadmap. With a new manager every 2 years or so, running the Domino brand is just a stepping stone in an IBM career.

    And of course the Steve Jobs quote, Quality is “delighting the customer.” talks to this issue.

    Finally, I remember the AS400 apps that were provided by third parties. The sales pitch was “we have an app for that” (well, not exactly) and those apps drove a lot of sales. That was and is a good model, because people buy overall functionality.

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