IBM’s Upcoming Layoffs In 2015 Should Focus On Getting Rid Of Quite A Bit Of Its Sprawling, Unproductive R&D.

.Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail

by Anura Guruge

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Research & Development has for long been IBM’s strength, its sustaining force. What IBM’s R&D has given us over the last century is monumental and as such much storied. Even now IBM files more patents a year than anybody else. Its portfolio of patents, the largest in the world, probably has a book value in the TRILLIONS!

But, as all successful Sales Managers have always asked their best salespeople on regular basis: “what have you done for me TODAY?”

And if you think about it that is IBM’s underlying problem.


IBM’s sprawling Boeblingen facility in Germany. Yes, it did some good work 1970 – 1990. What has it done of late?

Since the introduction of the Personal Computer (PC) in 1981 what game-changing BIGGIE has IBM given the world?

Even with the PC it missed out. IBM didn’t give us Windows, Office or PDFs.

IBM never came up with a Search Engine, a Browser, or any of the rampaging Social Media innovations. Nada. Zilch.

Yes, they continue to make enormous and very exciting breakthroughs in the semiconductor area and nanotechnology, but it is not a player in the mobile field.

IBM Watson, a work in progress that has been in the works for at least 25 years, is indeed very promising AND if IBM has a clue it would ask Watson what IBM should do with Watson. Very simple. Given that IBM’s highly compensated executives are floundering about, clueless, they might as well see if Watson’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help them get some bearings.

IBM, to be fair, as two types of research: Pure Research that does the esoteric far-out stuff, and Applied Research that supposedly should be working on tactical solutions.

But, these days it is Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Instagram that is doing all the cool stuff. Driverless cars? Google. Virtual reality goggles? Google. When was the last time you heard IBM talked about in terms of a ‘must have’ product. We get all this frenzy when Apple calls a product announcement. When was the last time you heard of an IBM announcement? 


IBM’s scenic La Gaude facility in the French alps. They have been screwing up since the 1990s. One word: N(bloody)Ways! Case Closed. Facility should be closed too. Sell the campus to a property developer. IBM could get BILLIONS.

IBM can no longer afford to be sentimental.

They have to cut much and they have to cut deep.

They should totally get rid of some of the now totally redundant and unproductive European Laboratories! They no longer have a time and place in the IBM World. IBM bet on so many lost causes: OS/2, OSI, ATM, APPN, WebSphere …. Now it is time to pay the piper. Shutter some of these facilities. Liquidate the assets. Sell the lands. Give the poor shareholders a break.

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