IBM is a portfolio business

by Volker Weber


What does that mean? While selling this, they also sell that. Get used to it. If you find yourself in a poker game, and you don't know who the sucker is, then it's probably you.



Craig Wiseman, 2010-08-06

A friend of mine told me years ago that IBM has more Microsoft consultants than Microsoft itself.

Surely a person who prides himself on insider knowledge must know this?

Michael Sobczak, 2010-08-06

So, following that logic, if I have a BMW and want to trade it in on a new car, and I go to my BMW dealer and say I want to trade it in on a new Toyota, do you think the BMW dealer is going to sell me a Toyota? No they are going to try to sell me a BMW. If I say I still want a Toyota, are they going to order a Toyota for me and sell it to me? No. If they did can you imagine how pissed off the BMW factory workers, the other dealers and the service staff would be?

Wouldn't the "right" thing to do, be to say "Thank you very much but we can't help you get a new Toyota, but I'll be happy to help you with all your other automotive needs." That's the definition of a Portfolio Business, perhaps IBM should work a little harder to keep clients instead of just rolling over and going "oh ok I'll sell you whatever you want, even if it means selling someone else's product." Sticking to your guns gets a lot more respect, otherwise you look like a weak willed pushover, or worse, just plain greedy.

There's got to be more than just "making a buck" in this world.

Obviously I'm just too naive to understand.

Brett Hershberger, 2010-08-06

Brett, your example does not work. IBM isn't one Toyota showroom. IBM is a huge business that can make money on things that seem to contradict each other. IBM wants to make money, wether the customer wants Notes or a competing product. And they can.

Volker Weber, 2010-08-06

I really have to point out that IBM has always been one of the larger consultancies supporting the Microsoft product stack. Back in 2005, I was working on an IBM 'rip notes out of a large customer that we'd just finished putting Notes into' project.

Think of IBM as a stockbroker. They might recommend one stock/product against another, but the consultancy business is only interested in the churn. In its case, selling man-hours for whatever hair-brained scheme it can.

IBM Lotus Business partners have always known that IBM consulting would rather put a team of 50 guys on a project than actually buy a Business Partner (or even IBM!) product off the shelf. And the customers get shafted.

No-one should be surprised that the elephant would trample anyone in order to get the bun.

---* Bill

Bill Buchan, 2010-08-06

To be honest I just assumed that it meant that Ed was saying IBM sells more than Lotus stuff. Two best quotes I've seen in a while though - if you're in a poker game.... and No-one should be surprised... :-)

John Lindsay, 2010-08-06

Ah - just caught up. Note to self - do not read blogs from latest to earliest order. Things appear out of sequence :-)

John Lindsay, 2010-08-06

Ed posted long comment about this on my blog.

Eric Mack, 2010-08-06


Extraordinarily well said, thank you, that really milks the essence of this, and although I'm an in-house resource who does not have to sell this technology every day, I physically cringe when I see that and think of the majority of this community out there beating the bushes for new business.

Although completely understandable given Ed's position and role at Big Blue, his apologist approach is rather sad.


Dan Lynch, 2010-08-06

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


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