I worked for IBM from 1995 to 1998. During that time I met some great people and had the privilege of working on more than one world-class project. As part of the benefits package I was allowed to buy IBM stock at a discount, and I did so. A few years ago I sold the stock off, as it had stagnated for a while and my general fondness for the company had dwindled. I still have friends there, many of them working for IBM Global Services. Now Robert Cringely reports that Big Blue is planning to axe more than 100,000 people from IGS, moving all the work offshore:
The IBM project I am writing about is called LEAN and the first manifestation of LEAN was this week’s 1,300 layoffs at Global Services, which generated almost no press. Thirteen hundred layoffs from a company with more than 350,000 workers is nothing, so the yawning press reaction is not unexpected. But this week’s “job action,” as they refer to it inside IBM management, was as much as anything a rehearsal for what I understand are another 100,000+ layoffs to follow, each dribbled out until some reporter (that would be me) notices the growing trend, then dumped en masse when the jig is up, but no later than the end of this year.[…]
This cannot be good. As Cringely notes, offshoring of this scale creates massive communication and support problems – at least if the customer is in the US. My experience with BellSouth’s lame, dysfunctional, globalized tech support has been a disaster. Dell, same story. In fact, if you have ever had a good experience with offshore tech support I’d like to hear about it. But more importantly, if Cringely is right IBM management is going to axe 100,000 jobs knowing full well that it may cripple the company. I don’t care if the stock price rockets upward for some brief period. I’m glad I no longer have any financial stake in Big Blue.