1. They bring the A players to the sales process
2. They bring the B players to manage the account (technically and commercially)
3. They bring the C/D players to do the actual work.
Wondering if I'm an outlier or if this is a standard mode of operation for them? I wonder how this plays in with their OSS strategy? Who works on things like OpenShift?
They bring the A++ lawyers to tell you that not having database corrupted / application crash / buttons click fail wasn't specified in the contract and that in their opinion the software works as agreed.
Seeing the IBM letters still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
If they send sellers after that we usually just ask them to leave and send the engineers. I've seen quite a few pouts but it's impossible to get accurate product information out a seller, they just tell you what you want to hear.
I've never been in contact with IBM before but I'm not surprised about your experience.
 Sales call scene with Joe and Gordon in Halt and Catch Fire: Season 1 Episode 1
When I took sales calls, I would usually sit through the intro pitch from the salesperson, and if it seemed in the ballpark, I would cut the call short and ask to be put in touch with product/engineering by email. And if I liked what I saw, I'd go back to the salesperson for pricing, etc.
The biggest issue I've had in the past is that I ask for a feature and the salesman say "no problem" and when it's time to implement what I asked for is a custom feature that they can build for €100k.
If you hire an independent A player as a consultant instead, they have no big organization with the resources of IBM. I've competed with IBM, and the saying of "you don't get fired for choosing IBM" is still more true for them than for anyone else.
IBM can still bring a level of competency which far exceeds anything Red Hat alone can do. Several well-known and successful companies where I've worked considered their biggest competitor to be IBM - though they didn't say that publicly since they didn't want to further legitimize the competition. They were already losing too many sales to IBM.
But none of that mattered. All that ever mattered was the CIO, and what company he wanted. Then he would write up a rule system where X company had to meet Y requirements that only his preferred company could meet.
We still got more work than we could handle, but people always want A players on the ground, but even at the exact same cost, the upper level management are going to make decisions based on things that have nothing to do with success.
I agree it's a strategy, just not a very good one IMHO. I'd prefer to see A players at all levels, just at different levels of their career. Junior level A players can still contribute.
Sell quantity, not quality.
Not in my experience - at my last job we had multiple meetings with them to try and sell us one of their products (CIO was ex IBM and was pushing us to use it) and everyone technical who was involved on our side was profoundly unimpressed.
Was also a bit bizarre that about 6 of them came along to a meeting with 4 of us - we never did find out what most of them did.
That's your "mistake" (from their part). They only know how to sell to top-level oxygen-deprived-brains that are impressed by technical fancy words but couldn't turn their notebooks wifi off and on again to save their lives
Ever seen that scene in Halt and Catch Fire where IBM comes to meet with the small company and a hundred IBMers flood into the office? That's the most accurate scene I've ever seen in any movie or TV show ever.
Sounds like that's a typical mode of operation, seen that several times, too. So maybe the quality of the sales team is the variable. So if your sales team is C players, do they bring the... E? ... players to project?
I think they might have been used to giving demos to not technical folks rather than people who were actually fairly competent and inclined to scepticism.
> 1. They bring the A players to the sales process, .. C/D players to write code.
I was wondering why IBM failed to make great progress with WATSON project which was started years ahead of others in ML/DL filed.
Now I know the answer, internal IBM projects are developed with same A/B/C people of the hierarchy, where C players are people who write machine Learning/Deep Learning WATSON code.
Since Microsoft lost consumer space by losing windows phone, it's focus is ONLY Enterprise market which is confirmed by LinkedIn purchase.
Slowly but surely Microsoft will eat IBM's "Enterprise lunch" eventually. (sharing part of lunch with AWS & Google Cloud)
The problem was that Watson was a (largely successful) publicity stunt. In that sense, it falls in the category of sales and IMO is a top notch, A-player, demonstration of hype. It wasn't designed from the start to solve real problems, so it was always going to be hamstrung as a real product, regardless of how good the underlying engineering was.
* Edit to add a link to the papers they published -- https://researcher.watson.ibm.com/researcher/view_group_pubs.... -- which I remember skimming at the time and feeling like they were on par with any other typical ML paper. In general, research departments are run with an entirely different culture than engineering.
When I worked at IBM eons ago, products were very tangible, and often very physical in form, and there was no doubt whatsoever about what they did. Each came with beautiful bound folders for Africa describing functionality and usage. As a Systems Engineer, a part of one's job was being able to drive the configurator and other tools that controlled updates and upgrades and ensured products interoperated correctly.
Watson, it appears, is more the sort of snake oil that one would associate with a flakey, fast moving startup that can promise anything and then somehow make it sort of happen for the early adopters. Its hard to pin down exactly what is IS - which is kind of the point when using it as a sales tool.
That is probably true for any company ever. Unless of course you are full of cash, overflowing to a point, where you have ginormous amounts of time and money to waste interviewing people, reject them and offer whom ever you want top of the market salaries.
Any company can probably do this at their prime. Other people have to hire on average competence if they want to scale. And that works fine most of the time.