Short-Sighted to Call IBM and Its Employees Obsolete

Because I still bleed blue as a former IBMer, articles were emailed to me regarding this current round of resource actions. These layoffs do not penalize poor performers because recipients of a 1 PBC (gold star employees) are part of the action; also the internal advocates who publicly blog about IBM’s products or run the official IBM wikis to deep dive into the beauty of IBM’s products are also released into the wild.

One article in particular by Dana Blankenhorn caught my attention, on a financial investment site – Avoid IBM: It’s Over. After my initial annoyance over a typographical error (it’s IBMer, not IBM’er with an apostrophe), Blackenhorn stated:

Could IBM be bought? At its valuation of $132 billion, the largest U.S. tech employers, like Google (GOOG, GOOGL) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), could easily buy the company for cash. But if they were interested, it would be for the employees – older programmers, many of them in obsolete areas. Tech is a young person’s game. Such an acquisition would be silly.

Employees are one of IBM’s greatest assets, but before I get to those let’s address IBM’s patents. For the 23rd year in a row, IBM has led with the number of patents granted in 2015.
Are these patents for outdated technology? I may be ‘older’ but I adopt technology when it makes makes things easier. Judge for yourself IBMers James Kozloski, Cliff Pickover, and Irina Rish’s US Patent 9177257 –

Obsolete?  I could use this product now.

And what about Watson?  Relegated to only ‘interesting’ by Blankenhorn?  Watson’s just getting started.  Is Watson as obsolete as ‘older’ Carrie Fisher (currently 59)?

Or even more ancient Ridley Scott (78)?

While some of IBM’s technology may be as obsolete as the floppy disk, ATMs, hard drives, magnetic strip cards, virtual machines, and relational databases are still used heavily today.

IBM’s employees, past and present, are quite good at what they do. IBMers are nimble, despite their physical age.  There’s always new clients, new projects, new deliverables, and new technology.   Who do you think IBM tests out the new versions of Lotus Notes on?  Its employees.

Although there are a lot of ‘older programmers’ within IBM, IBM has a diverse work force.  More than half of IBM’s employees are IBM Global Services (my old division 07), the world’s largest business and technologies service provider with 190,000 employees.

Additionally, last year 8,500 individual IBMers were responsible for those 2015 patents.  In its history, IBM employees have achieved five Nobel Prizes, six Turing Awards, five National Medals of Science, and ten National Medals of Technology.

Today, I am not able to speak with other IBMers daily as a Miro employee, but I feel they still represent values I continue to employ today.  Number 1 – ‘Dedication to every client’s success.’  Maybe that’s why Salesforce’s Marc Benioff welcomes CVs from laid off IBM workers.