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The Decline and Fall of IBM: End of an American Icon?

The Decline and Fall of IBM: End of an American Icon? [Kindle Edition]

Robert Cringely , Katy Gurley , Lars Foster
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Product Description

IBM is in serious trouble. Big Blue, as the company is known, tends to rely for its success on magical thinking but that magic ran out a long time ago. The company got in trouble back in the 1990s and had to hire for the first time an outside CEO, Lou Gerstner, to save the day. Gerstner pushed IBM into services with spectacular results but this hurt the company, too. As services have became commoditized IBM could only compete by offshoring the work and quality suffered. The other negative impact of Gerstner was his compensation which was for the first time in IBM
history very high. Only the Watson family had become rich running IBM with later CEOs like John Opel and John
Akers living comfortable lives with lots of perks, but they never got BIG RICH. That changed with Gerstner.
Sam Palmisano an IBM lifer followed Gerstner as CEO and followed, too, the Gerstner playbook. Palmisano retired three years ago with a retirement package worth $241 million, replaced by IBM's first woman CEO, Ginni Rometty, who certainly expects a comparable golden parachute. In order to achieve these numbers, though, IBM has essentially sacrificed both its customers and employees. In order to have ever growing earnings per share the company has cut labor to the bone, off-shored everything it can, dropped quality, deliberately underbid contracts to win them then not performed. IBM's acquisition policy is one of buying companies to get their sales then cutting costs to the bone and under-delivering. This and share buybacks have kept earnings growing until this house of cards recently began to fall.
Ginni Rometty, who will end up taking the fall for Palmisano's flawed strategy, has stated a very specific earnings goal for 2015 that she will destroy the company to achieve if she must. This book how IBM fell from grace, where it is headed, and what specifically can be done to save the company before it is too late.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I'm a tech professional who specialized in IBM/Lotus software from 1996 through about 2012. I've read Robert Cringely's I, Cringely columns over the years, and watched how he documented the decline of IBM as a company where employees were respected and organizations received value for their money. The Decline and Fall of IBM: End of an American Icon? is Cringely's effort to take all his columns over time and present the material in a cohesive and comprehensive manner. With very few exceptions, I have to agree that his assessment is dead on (based on my observations and interactions with others), and the future does not look bright based on the path IBM is taking.

There are a number of factors that are contributing to the decline. One of the worst problems is the relentless cost cutting that lays off experienced employees and shifts their jobs overseas to untrained personnel. The problem is that while the trench workers are cut and/or overworked, the management structure and layers just continue to grow. The drive to get to $20 EPS by 2015 has decimated the morale and capabilities of staff, and it's tragic that no one in IBM management has stepped up to say that's a meaningless goal by a prior CEO and it's gutting the company. If there were only a handful of (ex-)employees sharing bad experiences, it might be tempting to think that it's only a minority of people who are complaining. But the numbers of stories are huge, and the examples are too many to be isolated incidents.

The current CEO is tossing big bucks at "the next big thing" to try and restore IBM to a dominant position as an industry leader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RIngs true 25 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As an ex-IBMer, released during a resource action years ago, I read, with some nostalgia, about the internal workings of my former employer and it brought back many memories; some good but .... The author's writing style is relaxed and conversational making this an enjoyable and easy read. Anybody who reads the book will gain an insight into an organisation that is struggling to compete in a contemporary, fast paced, world where the IBM brand isn't as valued as it once was.
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3.0 out of 5 stars IBM 27 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
A fairly interesting book about IBM which was let down by poor editing, including some occasional typing errors.
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I bought this mainly as a "thank you" for all his blogging work over the years but it was a good read anyway. Cringely's writing is easy and engaging and this book is no different. It's pretty short and half of it is comments from readers but it's entertaining and well organised. Recommended if you work for IBM or know someone who does. Let's hope he's wrong.
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