back to article Indian Business Machines? One-third of Big Blue staff based there and Bangladesh

Just shy of one-third of IBM's global workforce is now based in India and Bangladesh, a leaked internal blog has indicated. World+dog was aware that Big Blue has spent years offshoring roles. El Reg previously revealed the firm planned to employ eight in ten services personnel in lower-cost locations by the end of 2017. IBM …

  1. John Styles

    Was I the only person to think 'that few?' ?

    1. Ian Michael Gumby

      @John, err. yes...

      IBM has been moving jobs off to lower cost, however... they have to also do near shoring options. This way the workers are in the same time zones where the work is being done. (E.g Brazil for US ops)

      This is for sales and ops support. So while she wants to push ops to lower costs

      In terms of Global Services or whatever they are calling themselves... they have been moving people offshore for years. Now the fun thing... H1B or L1B are going to be limited and they will have to start hiring in the US. I would imagine this to be the same for the UK, however, it seems that since India is part of the Commonwealth it may be easier to onshore workers.

      Ginny is facing a couple of issues.

      1) She needs to kill old tech. Even if profitable, she's going to move away from it.

      I wouldn't be surprised if she doesn't open source her database portfolio.

      2) She needs to clear out deadwood. Her push is towards Cloud. So how many of the Cloud staff are being made redundant?

      I'm sure you'll find that the bulk of the older folks getting made redundant are in those techs.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: @John, err. yes...

        Isn't open sourcing DB2 the equivalent of fly tipping?

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

          "Isn't open sourcing DB2 the equivalent of fly tipping?"

          As it happens I have used DB2 and MS Access.

          DB2 solved problems Access didn't even seem to realize existed. In fact they were only problems because you were running on Access to begin with.

          People really don't know what they've got till they lose it.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: "Isn't open sourcing DB2 the equivalent of fly tipping?"

            The errors are obtuse, the tools are primitive, and the SQL syntax is non-standard with missing functions taken for granted on other platforms and pointless casts everywhere if you dared to define your own datatype. Also it seems to attract a cult-like following where every problem is down to not doing something The DB2 Way. Let's just say it was hate at first sight.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, I bet this number is low. Certainly low in terms of offshore, low cost delivery as a percentage of IBM. This does not take into consideration that IBM also has large operations in places like the Philippines and South America.

  2. nerdbert

    How to leak information...unintentionally

    It's not like anybody didn't suspect the numbers, it's just interesting how those numbers got out.

    IBM is moving their key work to low wage locations.

    IBM sales haven't grown in 20 quarters.

    Not that management will see any connection. So, so, so glad I left long ago when they went from techie management to cookie management. Any company that's been pumping its stock price with buybacks for way more than a decade has been telling stockholders that it has no idea how to be a tech business because they can't find anything useful to do with the money they're making, and IBM shows what that sort of clueless management leads to.

    1. streaky

      Re: How to leak information...unintentionally

      No the average management bod doesn't equate tech pay with quality of work. The look at people who do technical jobs like the person who empties the waste paper bin and cleans the toilets. Never mind the fact most of India's best tech people are probably working in the US and Europe already.

      If I was dumb enough to be an IBM shareholder this stuff would bother me a great deal. But I'm not so..

      IBM sales haven't grown because they're all about java, mainframes and patent exploitation - the first two are massively out of fashion, even in the classical places they did well. The patents they're creating have limited commercial value due to problems making the thing they're working on actually commercially viable. Millipede memory is the classic example, it was supposed to be the future of storage and they never saw flash coming which completely wiped out their ability to ever sell it and they had to write off all the investment they put in - and they couldn't really get it working right anyway.

      The only thing IBM is renowned for being good at is AI and it's not exactly an area you can count on investment in. They obviously do a lot of business with governments but again, in times of tightening government IT budgets those sales can be extremely unreliable. The only time IBM ever got really crazy when they bought softlayer and all they've done with softlayer is pushed them to stuff they were already doing - as opposed to widening their business (and thereby sales) appeal.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How to leak information...unintentionally

        The only thing IBM is renowned for being good at is over-hyping AI. Watson is a collection of machine learning APIs that barely works for simplest tasks, and the rest of the "deep machine learning", "cognitive" etc. buzzwords and applications to various industries is just a vaporware.

        Source: IBM analytics escapee

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The usual race to the bottom

    Who needs 1 skilled worker if you can hire 10 less skilled ones for the same price? I'm sure this makes good short term business sense but long term - if so many people in the US and Europe are laid off who exactly will be buying these companies goods and services? The emerging middle classes in the BRICS? Dream on, their economies are fragile stuttering. Long term these companies are killing the golden goose but I don't expect the current directors give a shit since they'll have long since collected their golden goodbyes and be retired on the golf course by the time it matters.

    1. Chrissy

      Re: The usual race to the bottom

      "be retired on the golf course by the time it matters.".

      Their problem is that to get to that golf course they'll have to traverse the badlands that were once swathes of middle class housing that is now populated by gangs of ex-techies and their ex-soccer mum crack whores.... lots of rope and lamp-posts between their house and the club-house.

      And good luck on not having their house broken into and torched once the Western economies collapse.

      1. one crazy media

        Re: The usual race to the bottom

        This argument is an urban myth and grandma's tale.

        If the West can only maintin its standard of living by subjugating and dominating other nations, you have a problem.

        Regardless of the military power, the west is not going to ble to subjugate and rule rest of the world for their own benefit as in they did in the past, especially the BRITISH.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Boltar Re: The usual race to the bottom

      Who needs 1 skilled worker if you can hire 10 less skilled ones for the same price?

      Funny you should say that.

      I'm one of those really highly skilled workers.

      I walk in to clients where they need help, and when you start to peel back the layers, they hire under skilled cheap labor and their managers don't know how to manage. In terms of Big Data, they buy in to the BS coming from Talend and Tableu, among others and don't understand why they can't debug or solve scaling issues.

      Even when you give then a solution, explain it to them in simple terms, they either don't get it, or can't implement it. Yet these are the same people wanting to jump on the greatest and latest tech.

      So yes, you do need skilled workers. Because when the SHTF and it will. The company's staff will not be able to manage the project or the problems.

    3. Joe Montana

      Re: The usual race to the bottom

      Yes long term the entire system will collapse for the reasons you've cited, but short term if you're the only company that doesn't outsource to cheaper locations then yours will be the first to go as competitors have lower operating costs, and very few customers will be willing to pay more to you even if you're offering a superior service.

  4. JimmyPage Silver badge

    So, at what point do the 33%

    suddenly decide - as one - that they are worth 50% more than IBM are paying them ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So, at what point do the 33%

      Of course given the US-India/Pakistan relationship, what's the betting that anyone stupid enough to try and organise such a thing gets accidentally killed in a drone strike ?

      Or, to advance the paranoia. what's to say it hasn't already happened ?

  5. Steve K

    "switched to Concur, an expensive management and travel booking system."

    Freudian or deliberate typo....?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We're using it. I don't know about the price, but as far as expense management systems go, it's doing its job pretty well.

  6. a_yank_lurker


    So when Itsy Bitsy Morons finally collapses the damage will be in poorer countries because they have only a skeleton staff in US/EU/Japan/etc.

  7. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    IBM == Indian Bollywood Movies

    nuff said

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: IBM == Indian Bollywood Movies

      I'm shocked! I always thought it meant Itty Bitty Minds...

    2. iRadiate

      Re: IBM == Indian Bollywood Movies

      Nuff said?

      Actually i don't get it.

      Seems such a random connection.

      Are you saying IBM a tech company is actually making Indian movies or employing Bollywood actors?

      Also why 'indian' Bollywood movies? Is this to differentiate from the Iranian Bollywood movies or the Indonesian Bollywood movies or perhaps the Iraqi Bollywood movies?

      You sir are a complete ...,...

      Nuff said.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: IBM == Indian Bollywood Movies

        You mean most Indians employees are not actually actors paid to play the role of techies? I would have bet on it, given many outcomes - but probably the best ones are those playing the phone scams.

  8. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge


    It's good for everyone when low skill low paying industries like making trainers or business consultancy gets transferred to 3rd world sweat shops.

    It allows workers in the developed economy to transition to higher skilled more profitable activities like driving for Uber or uploading youtube videos

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Economics

      BA DUMP BA!

      Have an upvote.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just India

    Just as a matter of fact, Concur went live this month in more than just India and Bangladesh. It went live in a number of European countries as well including the UK. So not sure that the numbers quoted are just India.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not just India

      "... is now supporting an additional 122,000 IBMers, bringing the total number to over 285,000, across 48 countries," Shembekar stated."

      "IBM has a little less than 380,000 employees globally, so roughly 32 per cent are based in just two countries."

      Please tell us you don't "work with numbers" or 'facts' or any of those troublesome things

      1. Blotto Silver badge

        Re: Not just India

        Clearly one of those ~150k odd numpty IBMers not in India or Bangladesh.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not just India

        The numbers...

        122K added in India and Bangladesh.

        Total number of IBM employees 380K

        You do the math...

        The internal memo stated that they added 122K people to Concur which now covers 285K in 48 countries.

        Maybe that's why you're confused?

  10. SomeoneInDelaware

    Long ago I discovered that IBM = Immense Bowel Movement. Or Immense Borg Machine, It takes thousands of them to make one decent IT professional.

    We used to have what seemed like 50-100 "specialists" on a phone call whenever we had a problem.

    No longer. Adios.

    1. Blotto Silver badge

      That's who the Mr Smitgs in the matrix where modelled after.

    2. J. Cook Silver badge

      Someone beat you to one of those jokes...

      "IBM = Immense Bowel Movement."

      Or possibly "Intragalactic Bowel Movements", perhaps? (see for an explaination*)

      *Danger, deep archive, productivity loss possible.

  11. J.Smith


    Look on the bright side. When we're done with Brexit, and labour costs are lowered in Britain, we'll be a good source of cheap labour, able to be competitive and flexible enough to compete at the bottom. The future is bright, you just need the right perspective.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Bright

      British technical salaries are low by Western standards already. Sadly our successive governments have found other ways to make it expensive to run businesses in the UK (rents, business rates, employers' NI raises).

      1. Red Bren

        Re: Bright

        "successive governments have found other ways to make it expensive to run businesses in the UK"

        The biggest expense for businesses seems to be paying royalties for intellectual property rights to a parent company in the Cayman Islands via subsidiaries in Ireland and Luxembourg. There's no profit to pay any corporation tax on.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is more than one expense system doing same job

    There is more than one expense system serving the same purposes so Concur is only covering a subset of those workers in that geography. That percentage is way too low based on my experience (and a recent breakup I saw of staff by local geography)

    Nowadays the folk in GD land will self congratulate just for doing their day to day job.This is not confined to GD, management types all over are publishing blogs touting what would be a minor item as if it were the solution to the world's ills - we now view these as "Hi, I'm essential. Please don't RA me!"

    I've had individuals who I've had to escalate just to do their job send me emails asking me to send their managers a thank you message for their efforts. My team has issues escalated to us that have bounced around for 3 months with no resolution that has taken one of us maybe 30 minutes of investigation to identify root cause and undertake a fix yet every quarter we lose another member. My tick a box manager doesn't believe our team is under stress because "none of you take time in lieu" - we can't afford to with the few remaining members we have left and workload in play - it only places more stress on the team when each of us averages 2 or more months worth of time in lieu outstanding.

  13. Kev99 Silver badge

    And anyone is surprised? The C-levels are more concerned about their bonuses and Wall Street than their workers.

  14. Blank Reg Silver badge

    This is why they have had so many high profile projects fail over the last few years. They have lost millennia worth of cumulative experience, you can't make up for that with volume.

    1000 plumbers can't do the work of 1 neurosurgeon, not unless you're willing to wait until they complete a decade or more of education and experience. And most won't succeed.

    IBM doesn't have a decade to wait for their new staff to acquire the knowledge and experience they've lost. They won't survive that long.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      People need to start somewhere. Those geniuses you allude to didn't appear out of nowhere. From my experience the primary reason why projects fail is lack of proper planning, unrealistic schedules and yes poor expertise, but panning it just on the people who work on the projects is just plain biased.

      As an Indian, and someone specializing in a relatively niche domain, I sometimes do interact with British engineers. I find their level of understanding no better or worse then the local talent I deal with over here. Admittedly there are far too many engineering colleges here and many of their graduates are horrible, still there are a good number of them who are really good. And with the right guidance and mentoring, they usually end up being as productive if not more than their western counterparts.

      1. a_yank_lurker

        @AC - "As an Indian," The real complaint with these dumbsourcing moves is they substitute experienced locals (UK/US/EU) with inexperienced offshore workers. This is done because the inexperienced, offshore workers have much lower labor rates; a case of 'penny wise, pound foolish'. The offshore staff, no matter how competent, can not make up for a lack of experience and a lack of local knowledge/context. About all this does is anger customers as the quality of service declines because of the mismanagement decisions as the inexperienced staff struggle to find solutions.

        On this side of the pond, Discover Card has been advertising for years that all their CSRs are locals (US based). This implies a familiarity with US customs, laws, etc. that someone in overseas would lack even someone living in the UK.

  15. ecofeco Silver badge

    Not news to me

    When I worked for IBM almost 7 years ago, we had once a week morning briefings with an agent in India who had a very thick accent, lots of background noise and a very bad phone line. You can imagine the fun that was.

    I never could figure out why as we also had agents in the same city who handled the client account.

    This was the same on 2 other IBM client accounts I worked at.

    IBM service is about building a Kafka level of bureaucracy, where the lowest paid grunts do the real work, are often contractors, answer to multiple bosses and are never promoted while the "managers" play email round robin and change the SLA policies almost daily. What was right today is wrong tomorrow, so you are forever doing something wrong.

    You are set up for failure from "go". Fuck IBM. Hard.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Might the total be even higher?

    Presumably there are quite a lot of employees of IBM India/Pakistan (such as secretaries or admin staff) who would never do any business travel. Would they have been put on this new travel system "just in case"? If not, the % of total employees in the sub continent could be even higher than the calculated 32%.

  17. one crazy media


    Critcizing global comapnies on the basis of, where they operations and people are myopic. BMW, VW, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai; all have manufacturing plants, and design centers in the US and no criticism is lunched by thier home countires.

    Only UK and US are stuck on this. Suppose, neither can compete in a larger economy. Both sold trillions worth of products across the world.

    Both politicians (RUMP) who kick up the this notion and the media, who brainlessly follow should read about globalization, satrting with; Michael Porter's, Comparative Advantage of Nations. Besides, neither are helping anyone to compete in the global economy.

    As for the US, there literally hundreds of thousands of STEM jobs that are unfilled, but the Rump administration is focused on generating coal mining jobs.

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