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I've been working at IBM for a couple of years now, started as a grad.

What you must be referring to is the stock price, which has dropped from 200 dollars a couple of years ago to like 120 these days.

I can't claim to understand this company, I think very few people can. There are 300,000 employees and more teams/products/departments than you can imagine. It's absolutely insane.

However, what I can say is the following: IBM is shifting it's strategy completely and that would've been very difficult to do without a drop in revenue and stock price. IBM is going from whatever it was before to a cloud-based company. All services and products will need to have some sort of cloud offering. I'm not sure if you can imagine what moving 300k employees worth of work to the cloud means. IBM has existed for like 100+ years now, this industry has not existed until a couple of years ago and, right now, all teams must re-evaluate their work and make the steps towards making this transition happen.

Many of the employees are stuck in their old ways, many people have been working at IBM their whole career (20-30-40 years) and it might be hard to adjust to so many new directives coming from the top. There's much bureaucracy and many old ways that need to be absolutely obliterated. Also, IBM doesn't have a great reputation for being cool or anything... almost everybody hates Lotus Notes, as an example.

This was sort of all over the place, I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about this. Please let me know if you have any specific questions...




They're not referring to the stock price, the revenue that IBM takes in has fallen for 14 straight quarters: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ibm-reports-another-quarter...

The stock would actually have fallen much, much more but IBM has been performing continual stock buybacks to prop it up: http://247wallst.com/technology-3/2015/10/27/why-investors-d...

Some people think IBM is nothing more than a financial engineering firm now: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/10/20/the-truth-hidden-by-i...


My personal experiences with IBM representatives in Eastern Europe were rather negative (IBM was a strategic partner of my company), concerning IBM BPM and Cloud hosting. Their people were not trying to be nice or helpful. You had to really push them to get anything done. I'd expect better service, more focus on documentation.

edit: I do however recognise how huge the company is and how dramatic and brave their decisions have been to redefine the business.


IBM always seems to be in the process of shifting it's strategy. When I was there around 2006/7, they were in the process of cutting down on R&D, reducing it's footprint in the hardware space, and generally moving towards services (presumably because the margins were very high). I would say it's a large company that's trying to find it's place in the world again. That's not to say they don't make a ton of money, but over the last 20 or so years they've been 'getting out of' a lot of businesses.


From the outside, that looks like a good summary. IBM found that services are price sensitive, and IBM's name goes only so far in holding off pricing pressure. The question is whether the new R&D efforts will get sufficient resources to build enough value to more the needle. It could be that IBM's move to services is a last move and that things like Watson won't get the resources to be competitive with Google, Microsoft, Apple and other players in deep learning and AI.


> IBM has existed for like 100+ years now

In its 105th year: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computing-Tabulating-Recording...

IBM still does punched card processing for the census, right?



> many people have been working at IBM their whole career (20-30-40 years)

The first huge layoffs at IBM were something like 25 years ago, presumably the people at least at the lower end of this scale would be used to things getting disrupted by now.


Watson is quite impressive from the outside atleast. It's sort of the opposite of the Palantir approach to unstructured data; which is to say Watson processes and outputs the conclusions as opposed to aiding humans. Is that getting any traction?


I wish I knew... As I said, there are very many people working here, it's very difficult to know much about all that. :) From what I know though, there is a lot of funding going into it and a lot of effort, I think it's currently no. 1 on the list for the executives. It did manage to get A LOT of attention with Jeopardy, but I haven't heard a lot of good stuff about it since. I mean, it's definitely laying lower than you would expect given how impressive it looked on TV.


IBMers had these nice quote about sun never down on IBM's wealth (a paraphrase). Also the story of the blind elephant caretaker.

I wish IBM not to die and manage to turn pressure into strength to develop new hardware and new ideas (I found the business software pretty .. lacking). It's one of the oldest companies in operations. And I'm a passeist.




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