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Perspectives On the Latest IBM Layoffs

timothy posted about a year ago | from the still-biggish-blue dept.

IBM 135

An anonymous reader writes "After IBM reported disappointing Q1 earnings in March, to nobody's surprise, layoffs (RAs or 'Resource Actions' in IBM parlance) were announced two months later; June 12 seemed to be when most of the pink slips were handed out. While this is hardly a novel occurrence at IBM, this time the RA'd employee water cooler page is now open for everyone's inspection, and Cringely let loose with some predictable I-told-you-so's about financially oriented IBM senior management. Dan Burger at IT Jungle has a more numbers-oriented take on the latest round of layoffs."

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What we need is COMMUNISM (1, Offtopic)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about a year ago | (#44100171)

The decaying imperialist order is breeding pauperization and barbarism even in the wealthiest centres of its power. The only way out is the road of the Bolsheviks! Workers to power!

Thanks timothy! (1, Insightful)

kamapuaa (555446) | about a year ago | (#44100247)

Dude is hilarious. "I call them like I see them and always have. That’s my reputation. Ask Steve Ballmer at Microsoft if he likes my work and he may very well say “no.” Ask Larry Ellison. Ask Larry Page. You can’t ask Steve Jobs but you can ask Tim Cook. Do they like my work? No. no, and no. Now ask if they respect my work and every one of those men will probably say “yes.” Because I call them like I see them and always have."

And then in the "About" section: "Most recently, Cringely was the host and writer of the Maryland Public Television documentary “The Tranformation Age: Surviving a Technology Revolution with Robert X. Cringely." He also wrote for Infoworld until 1995, before getting fired.

What is the shocking truth about IBM? They don't release some corporate information that isn't required to be made public (no surprise), they do cost-cutting (maybe for stock buy-backs or something). Wow, that's one hard hitting blog article.

Re:Thanks timothy! (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#44102745)

If that's all you got from TFA, you didn't read very carefully.

It's not the layoffs (4, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | about a year ago | (#44100271)

Though I feel for these employees that will watch their work go elsewhere, cheaper, more flexible/captive, and lower quality.

It's the lies IBM will tell its customers, starting with the quality lies, then the onshore/offshore lies, and finally the resource commitment lies.

And how the government customers will roll over and ignore the contract provisions.

And later will stop asking IBM to even bother to keep work and data onshore when it is required by law.

Corpratists. Crony Capitalism. we are being fleeced.

Re:It's not the layoffs (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44100317)

Though I feel for these employees that will watch their work go elsewhere, cheaper, more flexible/captive, and lower quality.

Nonsense, Sanjay delivers most excellent work professional! He is to give you fine product definite! And his English is making superb! Great documentation and phone support is his being best at and is to be forthcoming!

Re: It's not the layoffs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44100447)

and he works from his own office (quicky mart)

Re: It's not the layoffs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44100467)

I thought his name was Joohhnn?? , yes, you pronounce the question marks.

Re:It's not the layoffs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44100537)

Sanjay, I like the cut of your jib.

Re:It's not the layoffs (-1, Troll)

gorzek (647352) | about a year ago | (#44100827)

Nice to see racist drivel getting modded up on Slashdot. Go fuck yourself.

Re:It's not the layoffs (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44101265)

You sir can do the needful, and if you are not liking the same then jolly tough cheese isn't it old boy?

Re:It's not the layoffs (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year ago | (#44102031)

gorzek will revert back to you

Re:It's not the layoffs (2)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#44102779)

It's not racist at all. It is a commentary on the tendency to cheap out even further on offshore labor rather than hiring people who are actually fluent in English to do phone support in English.

Re:It's not the layoffs (2)

gorzek (647352) | about a year ago | (#44102857)

It's a commentary made at the expense of Indian workers who, you know, just want to make a living, too.

But hey, getting people who work for a living to distrust and tar each other is a great way to maintain the status quo.

Re:It's not the layoffs (2)

Thud457 (234763) | about a year ago | (#44103491)

It's a commentary made at the expense of Indian workers who, you know, just want to make a living, too.

If we're all thrown onto a level playing field (which actually isn't, given the disparity of cost of living and in-place infrastructure) and they can't cut the mustard , FUCK 'em.

That's not racist, that's judging everybody by the same measure and finding them woefully deficient for the task at hand.
Granted most of the actual misrepresentation is perpetrated by those hiring them.

Re:It's not the layoffs (2)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#44103615)

You mean like the U.S. workers they replaced who did speak passable English?

Re:It's not the layoffs (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year ago | (#44103751)

So is trying to speak to a non native English speaker to resolve a tech support issue quickly.

Granted I do give them credit for knowing a second language, but when an accent is so think (theirs and mine) that neither of us can understand the other what's the point. Most of those calls end with a frustrated party and click.

Re:It's not the layoffs (2)

moeinvt (851793) | about a year ago | (#44103963)

Oh, come on. Making fun of the butchery of the English language done by non-native speakers is now "racist"? Lighten up a bit.

Re:It's not the layoffs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44101299)

Do the Needful

Re:It's not the layoffs (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#44101405)

ibm keeps him around because, well, he Does The Needful(tm).

Re:It's not the layoffs (3, Interesting)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#44100609)

If you're still buying software or services from IBM, you deserve what you get, and vice-versa.

Re: It's not the layoffs (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about a year ago | (#44103159)

So you don't deserve what you paid for?

Re: It's not the layoffs (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year ago | (#44103801)

I think you're confusing IBM with EA.

Re:It's not the layoffs (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44100905)

It's the lies IBM will tell its customers, starting with the quality lies, then the onshore/offshore lies, and finally the resource commitment lies.

It does seem like a number of customers, including major ones, have been dropping IBM services lately as a bunch of overpriced crap. I'm not in the part of the business that let's me judge that firsthand, but I'm interested in any knowledgeable commentary on that.

I certainly don't like anyone losing their jobs, frankly particularly Americans, so I hope many of these people can find decent jobs elsewhere. Question about labor laws (may vary from state to state), can people who were laid off (from in this case IBM) be prevented from getting jobs with IBM customers that they worked with? Can the IBM customers be forbidden, even contractually, from hiring these people? If so it should be outlawed as interfering with people's right to work.

And how the government customers will roll over and ignore the contract provisions.

And later will stop asking IBM to even bother to keep work and data onshore when it is required by law.

That's the worst of it, the crony capitalism. While I'm not of the "markets are always perfect" ideology, at least there's some possibility that businesses will eventually recognize overpriced crap and buy elsewhere.

Re:It's not the layoffs (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44102389)

What we need to do is start outsourcing executives. How much skill does it take to play golf and schmooze?

Re:It's not the layoffs (2, Interesting)

lgw (121541) | about a year ago | (#44102393)

I see no moral problem with jobs moving to parts of the world that frankly need the money more. However, I think IBM's business problems will continue to grow because of this. If quarter by quarter you make choices to stem the pain this quarter for a net longterm loss of quality and reputation, you're circling the drain.

At this point I expect IBM to go the way of AT&T and Maytag: the name will survive, but that's about it. (Actually, in IBMs case, their mainframe business is unique and profitable, and someone will want that.)

Re:It's not the layoffs (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about a year ago | (#44101259)

Corpratists. Crony Capitalism. we are being fleeced.

fleeced is too light of a term. We need a better term for allowing corporate welfare yet still enabling millions of jobs to simply pack up and leave the US soil. A term which represents the state of the US job market, yet still captures the core values which every industry is striving for: cheap labor, cheap service, lax regulations, and low operating overhead. I know, let's just call it nafta.

Re:It's not the layoffs (3, Insightful)

rijrunner (263757) | about a year ago | (#44101501)

Though I feel for these employees that will watch their work go elsewhere, cheaper, more flexible/captive, and lower quality.

It's the lies IBM will tell its customers, starting with the quality lies, then the onshore/offshore lies, and finally the resource commitment lies.

And how the government customers will roll over and ignore the contract provisions.

And later will stop asking IBM to even bother to keep work and data onshore when it is required by law.

Corpratists. Crony Capitalism. we are being fleeced.

When I was at IBM, it worked like this..

1Q disappointing sales.
2Q layoffs.
3Q OMG, look at things improve
4Q Look at how we've improved. Let's give the execs a bonus equivalent to the combined salary of the people we laid off.
1Q disappointing sales.
2Q layoffs.
3Q OMG, look at things improve
4Q Look at how we've improved. Let's give the execs a bonus equivalent to the combined salary of the people we laid off.
1Q disappointing sales.
2Q layoffs.
3Q OMG, look at things improve
4Q Look at how we've improved. Let's give the execs a bonus equivalent to the combined salary of the people we laid off.

Re:It's not the layoffs (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44101985)

Hahaha, exactly. I joined in 2006 Q1 and they were firing people all around I was like wtf.. why did they hire me. Then in 2007 Q1 the same B.S. Then again in 2008.. and in 2009.. I was numb after a few years (official response to rumours about lay offs: "let me know when i'm fired, otherwise say nothing"). Glad I left.

Re:It's not the layoffs (2)

TechNit (448230) | about a year ago | (#44102789)

It IS the layoffs! I worked for 8 years at Boeing. I LOVED my job! But man the layoff circus was BRUTAL! It completely killed employee loyalty and morale. These weren't market driven cyclical layoffs. These were constant rounds of layoffs! The constant drag/fear on the rank and file was/is devastating. BoeingIT was an awesome place to work, in 2001. I miss it greatly...

The fun days are long gone man...

Re:It's not the layoffs (4, Insightful)

harrkev (623093) | about a year ago | (#44102713)

The company that I work for is starting down this same path, so I am getting laid off in a few day. It is so incredibly short-sighted to be focused on the next quarter instead of the quarter that is five or ten years away.

I have also noticed that every company wants to have 95th percentile engineers, but they all want to pay 50th percentile salaries. Does anybody else see the logical contradiction there?

By the way: anybody need an ASIC or FPGA designer (RTL or physical design) in the Colorado Springs area?

IBM (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44100301)

Indian Business Machines is based in Armonk - still?

Global IBM employment is clearly dropping but employment in India, for example, is rising, so is this a net global number or gross layoffs?

Of course they are hiring in India.

The IBM that used to be the leader in social reform and good corporate citizenship no longer exists.

That ended in the 90s.

In IBM’s big plans its customers are a necessary evil.

That is the case for EVERY big corp. See the: banking, airline, cell phone, cable TV industries for downright hostile attitudes towards customers. IBM isn't quite there - yet.

No IBM customer is asking the company to put fewer workers on their account.

That won't happen. Customers will just get more workers in India.

See people - business customers - why go through an American based services company when all they really do is resell Indian (and other third world countries) labor? Buy direct and save money! And you don't have to put up with the ex-ballplayer salesman who makes waaaayyy too much money just because he's over six foot, classically handsome and looks good in a suit.

Re:IBM (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44100647)

I am a bit lost.

Your radiology xrays are read by MDs abroad, and even your military is fed by workers from 3rd world countries. So it is but obvious that Americans love cheap stuff and dont really care about where it is manufactured or assembled ( e.g. iPhone) or who does the work.

So why do you suddenly feel surprised that the one profession that can easily work from home is now getting outsourced ? White collar jobs are no different from blue collar jobs, because the value added compared to the compensation is severely mismatched in the USA. Why pay $100K for someone when it can be done by an equally experienced guy in India, Argentina or Eastern Europe for $30K ?

Suddenly you talk of Corporate citizenship! US companies have always made plans with their investors in mind - not their employees, and considering most of your companies make more money outside the US than in US... the only reason to call them a US company is because of their incorporation in Delaware.

Wrong - on so many levels (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44101243)

So why do you suddenly feel surprised that the one profession that can easily work from home is now getting outsourced ?

No one is surprised.

What you are missing is the lies that corporate America tells: that they are going offshore because they can't get qualified Americans. It's of no surprise to anyone - except for you - that corporations are going overseas to save costs.

Suddenly you talk of Corporate citizenship! US companies have always made plans with their investors in mind - not their employees, and considering most of your companies make more money outside the US than in US... the only reason to call them a US company is because of their incorporation in Delaware.

What's this 'suddenly'?

And no, back in the old days, companies like Dupont, Ford, and even IBM, and many others, prided themselves on taking care of their employees, their communities and their investors.

Over the last few decades, that attitude has become "quaint" and corporations have developed this slash and burn mentality that benefits their CEOS at the expense of the employees and the shareholders.

This is about well connected and incompetent people getting these CEO jobs, fucking up a company, and getting compensated handsomely for performance that would have a member of the rank and file fired.

Your and the mod's naivete is pathetic.

Re:Wrong - on so many levels (1)

TechNit (448230) | about a year ago | (#44102917)

This!

This is about well connected and incompetent people getting these CEO jobs, fucking up a company, and getting compensated handsomely for performance that would have a member of the rank and file fired.

Your and the mod's naivete is pathetic.

Re:IBM (3, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44101283)

Your radiology xrays are read by MDs abroad, and even your military is fed by workers from 3rd world countries. So it is but obvious that Americans love cheap stuff and dont really care about where it is manufactured or assembled ( e.g. iPhone) or who does the work.

That's a gross oversimplification. I'm not opposed to importing goods and services, so long as the trade is balanced.

So why do you suddenly feel surprised that the one profession that can easily work from home is now getting outsourced ?

Sudden? You call the last 13 years sudden? And programming is far from the only job that can be performed at home. Think of your radiologist example (though that happens less than you might think, thanks to the doctor's union). Think call center operations, much accounting and legal work, etc.

White collar jobs are no different from blue collar jobs, because the value added compared to the compensation is severely mismatched in the USA.

How do you come to the conclusion that it's severely mismatched? It's slightly mismatched. If it wasn't mismatched at all then we'd eliminate our persistent trade deficit. Of course this leads sycophantic pundits to say that American workers should be more "globally competitive" (i.e. work for less), as though the $50k/yr person should suddenly accept $40k. Wrong approach, because what matters in terms of international comparisons is what someone earns times the exchange rate. $100k means nothing to a European to pays for things in Euros, until you convert it by the exchange rate. So what has to happen is for the exchange value of the dollar to drop.

Why pay $100K for someone when it can be done by an equally experienced guy in India, Argentina or Eastern Europe for $30K ?

Because in many cases that $30k is a false economy. Outsourcing often doesn't save much money because of all the additional management and oversight required. That doesn't even include the quality, support and delivery time issues. To the extent it does save money, the difference is just shoveled into the pockets of CEO's and shareholder. That doesn't save money for the customer, it just shuffles the money to different people.

the only reason to call them a US company is because of their incorporation in Delaware

I completely agree. Companies that do more work outside of the US than in it shouldn't be allowed to be American companies.

Re:IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44101725)

Your radiology xrays are read by MDs abroad, and even your military is fed by workers from 3rd world countries. So it is but obvious that Americans love cheap stuff and dont really care about where it is manufactured or assembled ( e.g. iPhone) or who does the work.

That's a gross oversimplification. I'm not opposed to importing goods and services, so long as the trade is balanced.

So why do you suddenly feel surprised that the one profession that can easily work from home is now getting outsourced ?

Sudden? You call the last 13 years sudden? And programming is far from the only job that can be performed at home. Think of your radiologist example (though that happens less than you might think, thanks to the doctor's union). Think call center operations, much accounting and legal work, etc.

American medical associations have some power, but the lobbying clout with financial services is far greater. All it requires is a couple of companies to start providing medical services in Mexico and Bermuda - and then you will see medicine also get hit severely.

White collar jobs are no different from blue collar jobs, because the value added compared to the compensation is severely mismatched in the USA.

How do you come to the conclusion that it's severely mismatched? It's slightly mismatched. If it wasn't mismatched at all then we'd eliminate our persistent trade deficit. Of course this leads sycophantic pundits to say that American workers should be more "globally competitive" (i.e. work for less), as though the $50k/yr person should suddenly accept $40k. Wrong approach, because what matters in terms of international comparisons is what someone earns times the exchange rate. $100k means nothing to a European to pays for things in Euros, until you convert it by the exchange rate. So what has to happen is for the exchange value of the dollar to drop.

I think you are significantly simplifying exchange rate effects. But I do agree with you that the American (Actually 1st world/G7) workers are in a tough spot because their standard of living are so much higher than say in India. But for a company, the cost of say building a module in India vs US can be significant even with the additional costs you suggested which I agree need to be factored in. As somethings get commoditized (be it Radiology Readings for Insurance or IT ERP maintenance).. cost will be the primary driver .. and in the knowledge economy, labor is the primary cost - not equipment. As long as capital can move unhindered, outsourcing will forced to continue.

Why pay $100K for someone when it can be done by an equally experienced guy in India, Argentina or Eastern Europe for $30K ?

Because in many cases that $30k is a false economy. Outsourcing often doesn't save much money because of all the additional management and oversight required. That doesn't even include the quality, support and delivery time issues. To the extent it does save money, the difference is just shoveled into the pockets of CEO's and shareholder. That doesn't save money for the customer, it just shuffles the money to different people.

A company is for the investor to make money. So savings are supposed to line the shareholder pockets (and if they desire, the CEOs).

the only reason to call them a US company is because of their incorporation in Delaware

I completely agree. Companies that do more work outside of the US than in it shouldn't be allowed to be American companies.

I think companies would move incorporation locations without too much thought if the US Gov started enacting laws like the one you just suggested.

Re:IBM (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44102009)

But I do agree with you that the American (Actually 1st world/G7) workers are in a tough spot because their standard of living are so much higher than say in India.

In that case, shouldn't American CEO's be in an even worse spot? IIRC American CEO's make about 400x the already high salaries of their American employees, while in most other countries it's more like 10-20x. Yet CEO cost cutting is hardly rampant, which goes to show this is often more about power and politics (institutional economics) than any supposedly inexorable market forces.

As long as capital can move unhindered, outsourcing will forced to continue.

And that's the problem. There is nothing about free trade that requires either capital or labor mobility. Capital mobility exists to enrich some people at the expense of their countrymen.

I think companies would move incorporation locations without too much thought if the US Gov started enacting laws like the one you just suggested.

Let 'em, just make sure they really move. No listing on US exchanges, no US residence for executives, etc. I think you'd find surprising resistance if the IBM CEO had to live in India. If not, so what?

Re:IBM (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#44102883)

A company is for the investor to make money. So savings are supposed to line the shareholder pockets (and if they desire, the CEOs).

That just means that our current economic system is not and cannot meet requirements, and so must change.

Re: IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44102673)

us needs single player healthcare

Re: IBM (1)

Tiroth (95112) | about a year ago | (#44103055)

Your statement about the relative value of income makes sense but is a bit simplified. Typically it is not the exchange rate that is important as much as the purchasing power parity, which also takes into account local costs of living, etc.

Re:IBM (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#44102075)

The IBM that used to be the leader in social reform and good corporate citizenship no longer exists.
That ended in the 90s.

I cannot think of a time when that ever was a case. From patent lawsuits, to monopolistic behavior, to helping Nazis.......when has IBM ever been a 'good corporate citizen?'

Union (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44100323)

Union folk bitter a company needs to cut costs to not go broke. Here is some cheese to go with that whine, and the worlds smallest violin.

Re:Union (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44100453)

Cutting costs not to go broke? Where have you been the last 40 years? Companies don't "cut costs" to avoid closing. They "cut costs" to appease wall street and the financial sector. Companies only make products and sell services as a front. Their real business is an incestuous stock market scam where they work staff to the bone, then fire them and ride the short-term profit wave caused by no having to pay said worker. (Your work and contributions earn a company money for many months after you leave. That code you wrote, contract landed, or book you balanced does not vanish when you leave.)

"Costs" are saved as executives and upper management get bonuses and make money hand over fist, all as the company is slowly chopped in to pieces and loaded with debt. Eventually the company crashes, and the execs float on their golden parachutes to the next gig, where they do the same thing all over again.

Eventually we're going to run out of things to run in to the ground. What then, America?

Re:Union (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44100633)

Unless you have a program set to delete all your code unless you input a password every week.

Re:Union (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44102497)

But look at what you risk to do that. You can easily go to jail, and even if you don't good luck getting a job in the future.

Then what. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44100673)

Eventually we're going to run out of things to run in to the ground. What then, America?

A country with a third world level of wealth disparity, bankrupt government because the tax paying middle class will no longer exist and we'll just have poor (non-taxpayers) and rich (don't pay enough), and we'll come to the conclusion that the American dream died in 2008.

Re:Union (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44101209)

A global economic system of surfs, its what every administration is fighting for, even everyone's hero BO. Political party doesn't matter anymore kiddies so don't go there. Eventually we need to stop fighting each other, and fight our own government here in the US.

Ahem... (1)

kurkosdr (2378710) | about a year ago | (#44100347)

RAs or 'Resource Actions' in IBM parlance -> RAs or 'Resource Actions' in IBM newspeak (fixed that for you)

Sorry union peeps (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44100379)

Sorry union peeps. IBM would rather hire more shit eating pakis! They're cheaper and aside from stealing, they don't really back talk so much.

Too many chiefs... (0)

erp_consultant (2614861) | about a year ago | (#44100477)

not enough Indians...wait a minute..strike that. Too many Indians too :-D

Worked at IBM (4, Interesting)

Bigbutt (65939) | about a year ago | (#44100505)

I worked there for 2 years. There were some interesting technical benefits however the sysadmin team was highly siloed. I counted 12 teams that had fingers on the servers we managed. The worst part was the cog in the machine treatment. Some manager you'd never seen before would come into the cube farm on Monday, and seemingly randomly tap 2 or 3 folks out. They'd have their desks cleaned out by Wednesday. Your manager would find you 3 or 4 jobs but they'd require a transfer to a different location. When my sysadmin job was outsourced to India (we had to train them before we left), my manager found Data Center building jobs in Kansas, web programming jobs locally, and contract support for a company in Boston. Fortunately that was a telecommute position. We had folks from New York, Boston (on site), New Jersey, Washington State, and me in Colorado. The team was so broken due to the lack of face to face interaction that folks would leave and new folks come in every few months. I finally left when management tapped our customer interface and she had 2 days to transfer all her knowledge to the replacement. I could deal with most of the cog in the machine stuff, but the '2 days and you're out' stuff was extremely stressful.

[John]

Re: Worked at IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44100559)

2 days to tell someone how to due your job just walk away so you can't take the blame

Re:Worked at IBM (5, Insightful)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about a year ago | (#44100581)

If you know you're going to go, why do people train their offshore replacements. Just get it over with. Tell them to go fuck themselves and learn the systems on their own, then leave. If need be, start looking for work right at the outset and set that as the priority; not training the fucking offshore scabs. Then leave. If a company has that little loyalty to you, then fuck 'em, they don't deserve a work ethic of any sort, nor any loyalty.

Re:Worked at IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44100853)

I think people fear that will follow them when they go to look for other jobs. It would certainly prevent you from ever getting rehired by IBM. While you may think you'd never want to be there again, who knows how things could change in 10+ years.

Re:Worked at IBM (1)

erp_consultant (2614861) | about a year ago | (#44101281)

First off, HR laws prevent IBM (or any other former employer) from telling other employers much other than your dates of employment, salary and job duties. Secondly, if an employer treated me the way IBM appears to treat it's employees there is no way in hell I would want to return. I'm with the Parent on this one. I'm not going to be training an offshore replacement. Fuck that.

Re:Worked at IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44102551)

Yes, but those HR laws don't prevent companies from doing a background check in another country (like Canada) and future employers can dig up all kinds of off limits information by going that route.

Re:Worked at IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44102983)

No, but they can tell whether you are eligible for re-hire. That is a sign that you had issues.

Re:Worked at IBM (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year ago | (#44103325)

I think that GP's point is that he can politely decline to retrain anybody, and leave - even w/o the severance. Such a move should not reflect badly on his record - he exercised one of two legitimate choices he had before him. I think it's inaccurate to say that he quits if he does that - a more accurate description would be that the company terminated him. Technically, they could call it a firing, since he refused to/couldn't do what they wanted - train his replacements. However, any background check on him shouldn't reveal any misconduct, and if it does, then the reporting here has been corrupted beyond repair

Re:Worked at IBM (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about a year ago | (#44103839)

Just because the law prevents someone from blackballing you doesn't stop them from doing it. Your only recourse would be if you could prove it.

Re:Worked at IBM (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44101649)

Agree 110% on this one.

I'm back at a former employer because of this fact. Never burn bridges.

Here's my scenario -- I worked for 5 years for my previous and now current employer. Around years 4 and 5, a wave of management insanity swept over them and they nearly gutted our main product's engineering team. When I was asked to move somewhere I absolutely don't want to live for no reason other than "resource consolidation", I quit. I went to a new employer for another 4 years, then got a phone call basically saying "We really want you back, all the insane people got fired and all is well again. Here's a new, more interesting job and a raise." So I traded in a job I liked but with a crappy commute for a new job at my old employer, and I'm pretty happy.

A colleague of mine didn't fare as well. When my boss tried to hire him back, he got all the way through the final offer stage only to have HR tell him "absolutely not, under no circumstances, not even as a contractor." Unbeknownst to my boss, this guy made his exit interview a big drama-fest, permanently marking him as a "never-rehire" guy. I was polite in mine, basically told them I didn't want to move, and that I'd come back if the climate improved and they wanted me.

SO, it may be tempting to go out in a blaze of glory, but it's a small world and you never know when you might need to call in a favor or two.

Re:Worked at IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44102645)

This is so true. There is absoutely no benefit to airing your grievences. At best the company isn't going to care anyway, and at worst it can harm future opportunities. Go home and scream at the walls. Go to the gun range and pretend you're shooting at your boss, but under no circumstances should you ever lose your cool at the office.

Re:Worked at IBM (4, Informative)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44100903)

If you know you're going to go, why do people train their offshore replacements. Just get it over with.

Well, I can't speak for IBM, but I've been through layoffs before.

If they tell you you're being laid off, but you still need to do the training of your replacements, you likely only get any severance package they're giving you if you comply.

If you tell them to fuck off and train themselves, they might say "OK, you quit so you get no severance package".

So, if your choice is do it and get your severance, or not do it and get nothing at all, most people would choose the former. If you're in a position to go for the moral satisfaction of telling them to screw themselves, well, go ahead.

In my case, they were laying off an entire team which maintained a product. They kept me on a little longer to do the knowledge transfer and shut off the lights, but on my next-to-last day we got a big panic from a salesman who said there were critical bugs to be fixed and a few new features to be added, and there was a multi-million dollar sale on the line.

That, unfortunately, required that I remind them that if they had that much business on the line, then why were they cutting the entire development team? I'll help you do the knowledge transfer if my severance on the line, but suddenly realizing that you needed me to do more than the winding down process to support sales was a little much, and I was only willing to go so far.

If we had millions in the pipeline and you've now laid off the entire development team -- well, you need to be making smarter decisions. If the accountants decide to lay off your business critical people, then you have a problem with your accountants. Having the sales guys in a big panic was just insult to injury -- I don't care that your commission is at risk, because that's not my problem anymore.

Re:Worked at IBM (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44101077)

If you tell them to fuck off and train themselves, they might say "OK, you quit so you get no severance package".

People who have never worked for a real corporation with real benefits like severance can be excused for not understanding this. IBM is literally the only place I've ever worked that actually had severance pay. Of the megacorporations I've worked for or considered working for, IBM is the only one I'd consider working for again, because at least you get lubed before you get bent over.

Re:Worked at IBM (1)

quacking duck (607555) | about a year ago | (#44101397)

If you know you're going to go, why do people train their offshore replacements. Just get it over with.

Well, I can't speak for IBM, but I've been through layoffs before.

If they tell you you're being laid off, but you still need to do the training of your replacements, you likely only get any severance package they're giving you if you comply.

If you tell them to fuck off and train themselves, they might say "OK, you quit so you get no severance package".

So, if your choice is do it and get your severance, or not do it and get nothing at all, most people would choose the former. If you're in a position to go for the moral satisfaction of telling them to screw themselves, well, go ahead.

On top of severance, countries like Canada have (un)employment insurance where employees get a portion skimmed from salary, so if they're laid off there's some financial support while they look for work.

However, you only get it if you lose your job involuntarily, and you have to have been working there for a long while. Quit (even if under duress), be fired with cause, return to school, etc are all reasons to deny you EI benefits.

Of course, the company can *still* screw you over even if train the replacement and jump through all the other hoops they throw at you... they can then "accidentally" put the wrong reason for job loss on your record of employment, even though there's no financial cost to the company at that point whether you get EI or not. There's an appeals process, but you're not getting benefits in the meantime either way.

Re:Worked at IBM (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44101595)

Of course one doesn't have to be overly good at transferring such knowledge.

I wouldn't be, and I doubt I'd be the only one. Which mucks the project up even more. You you think corporate geniuses haven't figured that out, or they just don't give a damn? They're so divorced from any reality that's not on a spreadsheet that it's hard to tell.

Re:Worked at IBM (1)

gorzek (647352) | about a year ago | (#44100921)

Depends on whether they are offering severance. A lot of companies make your severance contingent on training your replacement. You want that 6 weeks of severance? You're going to train the new guy. Most people can't afford not to do that, and in this job market, you need everything you can get. I can't blame anyone for just swallowing their pride and doing it to make sure their family stays fed.

That said, I think it is a horrible and unethical practice.

Re:Worked at IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44101599)

Why not just train the replacement wrong? It's not like management can tell the difference.

Re:Worked at IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44101205)

Because if you don't, you can kiss your 8-10 weeks pay parachute goodbye.

Re:Worked at IBM (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44101569)

>If you know you're going to go, why do people train their offshore replacements. Just get it over with. Tell them to go fuck themselves and learn the systems on their own, then leave. If need be, start looking for work right at the outset and set that as the priority; not training the fucking offshore scabs. Then leave. If a company has that little loyalty to you, then fuck 'em, they don't deserve a work ethic of any sort, nor any loyalty.

I've been through the process before. Here's how it works (or some variation of this)

Step 1) You are informed a new offshore team needs to get "ramped up" to "help out"
Step 2) You (or someone on your team) gets a free trip to China/India
Step 3) Your work is being "transitioned" to the new team. "But don't worry, here's a new exciting project!"
Step 4) You work on the new project a while
Step 5) Layoff notice (for some people on your team).
Step 6) time passes.. .more layoffs... until nobody is left.

Notice that nowhere in the process are you are directly asked to train your replacement. I saw it coming at step 1 and found a new job by step 4. Refusing step 1 would have put me at a financial disadvantage vs staying until I found a new job. Yeah I didn't get to "stick it to the man", but I realized that a giant faceless corporation has no feelings to be hurt, and in fact wouldn't even notice if a worker bee like myself thought I was sticking it to them.

 

You could train them subtly incorrectly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44102053)

If you know you're going to go, why do people train their offshore replacements. Just get it over with. Tell them to go fuck themselves...

If you've been treated unethically, you have no obligation to be ethical towards your abusers if that will cause further damage to you.

So don't refuse to train them - IBM will give you bad references and other damaging punishments. Train them wrong. The moral responsibility for the hardships this will create for customers (and blameless foreigners who are just trying to feed their kids) will rest with IBM; it's their actions that caused it. Management is the art of using people to everyone's best advantage - asking workers to train their replacements before being let go is clearly bad management, and an obviously bad idea.

Thankfully my employers have always behaved ethically towards me so I've never had to compromise myself that way, but seriously it looks like your best option.

Re:You could train them subtly incorrectly... (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year ago | (#44103887)

I just wonder - who was the genius who first thought up this idea of workers who are about to lose their jobs being required to train their replacements? The conflict of interests would be glaring - the only incentive that the departing workers have in doing this in the first place is their severance, and there is no way to ensure that they'd do it well enough to make their replacements as good as them. The more one tries to approximate a scenario where such a training is thorough, the longer one has to retain such people, and in the perfect scenario, the company doesn't let go of the original workers in the first place - leaving the cost savings at either zero, or going into negative.

Re:Worked at IBM (1)

moeinvt (851793) | about a year ago | (#44103691)

"If you know you're going to go, why do people train their offshore replacements."

Severance package and unemployment benefits?

Why not do a bad job of it? (4, Interesting)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year ago | (#44101287)

Why not simply do a quick & dirty bad job of it? Prepare a few handouts, as well as, say, a quiz for the new replacements that's easy to fly through. Use that as the metric to tell the company that you've taught them what is needed, and that they are good to go. Then leave w/ the severence. The management is left w/ the impression that the offshored work force is equal to the job, and get the shock of their lives when things start disintegrating. After that, it's just a matter of time before the shit hits the fan, but by then, it's too late to take it out on the employees who've been let go.

That way, no need to really swallow one's pride - pull a fast one on both the employers, as well as the offshore workers, and then walk away w/ the severence. Let them figure out how to run things once you're gone.

Re:Why not do a bad job of it? (1)

turp182 (1020263) | about a year ago | (#44102207)

I like the way you think, where could I sign up for your newsletter?

Re:Why not do a bad job of it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103013)

It's "I find your ideas intriguing and wish to subscribe to your newsletter"

YOU FAIL IT.

Re:Worked at IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44102209)

Thats all folks! People on this site write really annoyingly.

I'm glad I got out of there (4, Interesting)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#44100561)

Whenever I read news about IBM, I'm glad I got out of that place. When I joined the company in the mid-90s, during Gerstner's reign, it was a great place to work, and a very successful company. There were plenty of problems, to be sure, and Gerstner laid off lots of employees, but the company was focused on the future and on building new and successful business. The employees were generally treated quite well, performance was amply rewarded, and education budgets were generous and easily accessible to ensure that technical employees continued developing their skills and the culture was one of mutual support to get things done. For large technology companies, I think the approach to employee continuing skill development is something of a bellwether for the company's future.

When Gerstner stepped down and Palmisano took over, however, the company began a long, gradual slide. It became cost-obsessed and quarterly earnings-focused. Some belt-tightening was appropriate during the dotcom bust, but that actually didn't hit IBM very hard. The problem was that Palmisano's leadership team had no idea how to create new business, the IBM services group that Gerstner started and used to revitalize the company was reaching a kind of natural saturation point, so Palmisano started slashing costs to prop up profit growth as revenue growth got harder to find. Even worse, the cost pressure began to change the culture of the company, creating more internal competition which began to turn ugly.

By the time I left in 2011, IBM had become a fairly unpleasant place to work. Global Services was the worst, for example utilization targets were routinely set so high that it was impossible to take vacation time without working overtime in order to make up for it, and cost controls had squeezed out all career development funding unless you could hide it in customer contracts. Software Group was struggling and had shifted more to focus on sales rather than development. IBM has always been primarily a sales company, backed by engineering, but shifting the balance too far towards sales is a way to boost short-term profits at the expense of long-term success. I personally got caught in that shift; my job was transformed underneath me from an architecture and development role to a technical sales support role. I even hear from my friends in R&D that they were also getting squeezed hard, with increasing pressure to abandon work on any ideas that couldn't be productized within a few months.

When I heard that Ginni Rometty was taking over for Palmisano last year I just shook my head. Rometty was a driving force in squeezing services employees with ever-increasing utilization targets and ever-tightening cost structures. IMO, IBM needs another visionary like Gerstner, not another jumped-up middle manager like Palmisano, but that's what they got in Rometty. She's a smart, talented, aggressive jumped-up middle manager, but still not what IBM needs, IMO.

I'm glad I left. I really should have done it a few years before I did.

Re:I'm glad I got out of there (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#44100629)

Oh... I can't believe I wrote all of that without mentioning the offshoring push. That was what finally pushed me out the door, the writing was on the wall that all development was moving overseas -- and not even to India, because India is too expensive! I spent a lot of time working with engineers in Brazil and Romania. Good people, but offshore development is painful -- and IBM's customers will feel that pain, until they abandon IBM.

Re:I'm glad I got out of there (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44101869)

The funny thing is that right now many Brazilians are being laid off and their positions are going to the Philipines and India. They said one hundred people were being laid off every Friday for 4-5 weeks in a row. I'm glad I also left. I hope I can keep my decency and never work there again in my life.

Re:I'm glad I got out of there (4, Informative)

cmorriss (471077) | about a year ago | (#44101147)

I'll second everything in the parent post including the joy of leaving the company last year. I had joined in the late 90's and saw the party slowly end and the crushing grip of earnings expectations squeeze every last penny out of the soul of each employee, especially anyone with talent.

The company has been transformed by Palmisano into a company eating machine. The buying spree started around 2001 and has only increased. After each purchase of a company, any products it has are fed into the IBM sales machine which promises the world to every customer. Development then gets its hands on it and tries to graft every interface imaginable and scale it to hundreds of times anything that had ever been tried. Bandaids are wrapped on the thousands of issues that arise during this process and the product enters a permanent maintenance mode until another company is purchased with a similar product to replace it. Once replaced, it is summarily shat into the dung heap of end-of-life'd IBM crapware.

All "innovation" in IBM is now focused simply on how to make the Frankenstein mess of products the company has acquired over the past decade work with each other in only the simplest ways. No more room for real developers and in fact most good ones have either headed for the doors or are in the process of doing so.

Re:I'm glad I got out of there (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#44101255)

Best explanation I've seen of Software Group's current business model.

Re:I'm glad I got out of there (2)

ageoffri (723674) | about a year ago | (#44101221)

As a former IBM'er who's been gone almost a year, everything you said is spot on. Customers were getting more and more upset with the quality of service from India. The only things I'd add is that IBM totally messed up the implementation of LEAN and has become way to narrow. I was shocked when the India support team was broken down into Active Directory and Windows OS support teams. Getting anything done on a Windows server became just about impossible because tickets would get bounced between AD and OS.

Re:I'm glad I got out of there (1)

rijrunner (263757) | about a year ago | (#44103085)

When Gerstner stepped down and Palmisano took over, however, the company began a long, gradual slide. It became cost-obsessed and quarterly earnings-focused. Some belt-tightening was appropriate during the dotcom bust, but that actually didn't hit IBM very hard. The problem was that Palmisano's leadership team had no idea how to create new business, the IBM services group that Gerstner started and used to revitalize the company was reaching a kind of natural saturation point, so Palmisano started slashing costs to prop up profit growth as revenue growth got harder to find. Even worse, the cost pressure began to change the culture of the company, creating more internal competition which began to turn ugly.

By the time I left in 2011, IBM had become a fairly unpleasant place to work. Global Services was the worst, for example utilization targets were routinely set so high that it was impossible to take vacation time without working overtime in order to make up for it, and cost controls had squeezed out all career development funding unless you could hide it in customer contracts. Software Group was struggling and had shifted more to focus on sales rather than development. IBM has always been primarily a sales company, backed by engineering, but shifting the balance too far towards sales is a way to boost short-term profits at the expense of long-term success. I personally got caught in that shift; my job was transformed underneath me from an architecture and development role to a technical sales support role. I even hear from my friends in R&D that they were also getting squeezed hard, with increasing pressure to abandon work on any ideas that couldn't be productized within a few months.

When I heard that Ginni Rometty was taking over for Palmisano last year I just shook my head. Rometty was a driving force in squeezing services employees with ever-increasing utilization targets and ever-tightening cost structures. IMO, IBM needs another visionary like Gerstner, not another jumped-up middle manager like Palmisano, but that's what they got in Rometty. She's a smart, talented, aggressive jumped-up middle manager, but still not what IBM needs, IMO.

I'm glad I left. I really should have done it a few years before I did.

At least it was Ginni and not Bob Moffat. They were grooming him for CEO. They had to scramble to find someone after Moffat went to prison. (He's sad because that cost him $65 million in benefits).

Agreed about Global Services. Their LEAN thing a few years ago was horrible. I recall how it went for e-Business. They had a couple "pilot Programs" where they went through and switched us from dedicated syadmin teams to a call center operation. So, when the customer called in, they had to open a ticket for that, then it would get assigned to a sysadmin out of the pool. No one would be that familiar with the account. As soon as they got the pilot program procedures done and that customer used to the process, they then transferred everything to a call center in South America and laid off the people working in the sysadmin pool in the states.

After seeing how well that worked, they then decided to roll that out to all of e-Business. They had months of meetings of upper management. 18 hour days in Raleigh. Flew people in from all over for these meetings. Finally, they decide to implement this. So, May 1st, they gather everyone in a room at 8AM and show them a link to where the call center procedures were. They then showed a list of what people's new teams would be. It became *very* apparent that the sum total of planning for this was to have someone email the call center procedures and then assign some specific people to a couple of the teams. In fact, Moffat argued that they did not want analysis paralysis from trying to plan too completely. (I did not see evidence of 20 minutes worth of planning. They *literally* just had some emailed docs from a call center, then told us to work it out). So, what were the 18 hour day meetings for the past 6 months?

Shoot.. they only informed the (SDM, DPE, or FAM depending on what they were calling them that day) customer reps at 8AM of the restructure and told them we were going live at noon with the new procedures and that the customer reps needed to inform the customers. By my count, they told customers whose outstanding contracts aggregated to about $12 Billion per year about a complete restructure of their complete support model with only a couple hours warning.

The layoff notices hit the next day...

Some accounts got slaughtered. They laid off every person with any institutional knowledge of how their applications worked, or their SAN, or their servers.

And those of us who had been peripherally involved in the pilot program already knew the final step of the process.

I was lucky in that I got the severance package. But, I was gonna quit anyway.

Welcome to corporate America (2)

tatman (1076111) | about a year ago | (#44100605)

Big corporations are in business for one purpose only: for the shareholders. There are good things that come from it, like our 401K and health insurance funding. However, 401K holders are little people and, come end of the day, have no voice in the decision making of a companies direction. Bean counters spreadsheets prevail at the cost of doing what is right or morally sound. It is really sad too that peoples lives are nothing more than line items on a spreadsheet.

Re:Welcome to corporate America (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44100757)

Bean counters spreadsheets prevail at the cost of doing what is right or morally sound.

And often at the cost at doing what's right for business beyond the next quarter. Almost the entire focus is on short term profit or capital gain maximization, and that has not always been the case. IBM was a publicly traded corporation, and subject to all the investor pressures thereof, when in the midst of the Great Depression they announced a no layoffs policy. Today that would probably make them a penny stock. Historically I heard they survived, and perhaps even prospered a bit.

Re:Welcome to corporate America (1)

tatman (1076111) | about a year ago | (#44101317)

well said :)

Re:Welcome to corporate America (1, Insightful)

cmorriss (471077) | about a year ago | (#44101967)

While what you're saying is true for some corporations in the U.S., maybe most, there are plenty that treat their employees with respect as long as their employees respect the company. I left IBM for just such a company and am VERY happy at my new job. IBM will slowly whither and die if it continues on its track. Natural selection and a healthy entrepreneurship continually reform the corporate landscape ensuring only the fittest survive in the long run. And to be the fittest, you have to have a healthy corporate culture and good people.

There are still Americans at IBM? (4, Funny)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44100681)

I wasn't aware that IBM had any American employees left to layoff, unless the CEO fired herself.

Re:There are still Americans at IBM? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103219)

+1

IBM stopped reporting US employment numbers years ago. The reason is that they want to still get choice government contracts while slowly laying off the entire US workforce, save a few sales and management positions. I really don't understand how they can continue to receive the equivalent of corporate welfare while doing this. IBM is not a US company anymore - you'd be hard pressed to say that they are in any way aligned with the interests of the average american.

Never Work For IBM (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44100745)

IBM has been offshoring for years. I have known for a decade that working for IBM is the worst possible choice. I have been contacted several times by an IBM recruiter and I simply laugh at them.

Death of HP, Dell and IBM inevitable (2)

middlemen (765373) | about a year ago | (#44100767)

The death of large firms like HP, Dell and IBM is inevitable. Whether the process of dying involves offshoring their services and/or manufacturing of their main hardware products, the cause is simply mismanagement from the top and lack of innovation on a large scale. IBM innovates in things like the Watson computer but that is a small division which if separated out from the main services division might prosper better on its own. Blaming employees in other countries who work for IBM for the reason for IBM's downfall is just bigoted nonsense and shows a closeted approach to looking at the real causes which is shitty management.

Re:Death of HP, Dell and IBM inevitable (2)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year ago | (#44101587)

It would seem that Watson would be to IBM what Agilent was to HP. If IBM spins off Watson and the POWER group into a separate company, we might yet see some innovation from them. Then they can do what they like w/ the rest of the company, and let offshore employees figure out how to manage MVS, OS/400 and all their other legacy systems.

Dear IBM (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#44100981)

Dear IBM,
Everything you sell costs too much.
Sincerely,
Every IT worker ever

I hope that reaches their market research division. Maybe that will help solve that big mystery of why they're doing poorly.

Dear IT worker (2)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year ago | (#44101643)

Dear IT worker
We are moving everything to India, Eastern Europe, Brazil, Africa and any other place we can think of. Hopefully, that should solve this problem.
Sincerely
IBM

Re:Dear IT worker (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44102997)

Dear IBM,

Good luck with that.

Sincerely

Disatified CIOs

Will IBM be nationalized ? (1)

cheap.computer (1036494) | about a year ago | (#44101047)

Just like the Auto industry will IBM be nationalized to save jobs ?

Re:Will IBM be nationalized ? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44101703)

Just like the Auto industry will IBM be nationalized to save jobs ?

Under the right circumstances, it would make sense for India to nationalize IBM to save jobs.

Re:Will IBM be nationalized ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103011)

Jobs is already dead, I'm confused.

H1B visas are not fast enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44101903)

Moving everything to India is a real innovation from IBM. Since H1B visas are not enough to find cheap work, why not move the whole company there.

You get what you pay for (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44102135)

This is a racket, most of these offshore companies bid to do the support for IBM, HP and DELL.
And you wonder why the jobs are leaving? Unless you can do the same work for a 1/4 of the price these types of support jobs are gone.

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