back to article IBM asks remaining staff to take career advice from HR-bot

IBM staff are being asked to eat the company's dogfood in the form of an AI-infused career advice chatbot named “Myca”. The Register understands that Myca – an acronym for “My Career Advisor” - was developed in a staff hackfest and is sold as the Watson Career Coach. Multiple IBMers of our acquaintance tell us that a great …

  1. Teiwaz

    Butlerian Jihad???

    Future history might not mark this as the first mistake that led to the chaos to come, but merely one of the poorer choices and certainly a contributing factor...

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Butlerian Jihad???

      Have an upvote for the Dune reference.

  2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    I guess...

    I guess the only career advice any UK IBM'ers on the technical delivery front line need is "leave IBM".

    There is plenty of work out there at the moment. Both permie and contract.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I guess...

      Which will eventually go abroad, so make hay now.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: IBM-Redundancy-Chatbot meets Godwin's-Law

      > Eh, that's it Dr Josef Mengele out of 'The boys from Brazil' please.

      Myca: I'm sorry, that role is currently taken. As you have expressed interest, do you have a twin?

  4. trevorde Silver badge

    Myca training session

    IBMer: Hi Myca, what jobs do you recommend for me?

    Myca: Just leave

    IBMer: Err, OK. What skill sets do I need?

    Myca: Just leave

    IBMer: Umm, right. How can I progress my career?

    Myca: Just leave

    IBMer: OK then... What's my best option?

    Myca: Just leave, Ginni

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's just another excuse for IBM to say "cognitive". It's their version of "strong and stable".

  6. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    This will end well, I'm sure

    Emails sent to staff ask them to get going with Myca, ASAP, to train it up.

    Haven't they learned anything from Microsoft's attempts to let the twitterati teach their AI bot (Tay?) some social interaction skills?

    1. Chris King

      Re: This will end well, I'm sure

      Using disgruntled employees to train up a bot ? That's not going to end well.

    2. JennyZ

      Re: This will end well, I'm sure

      Maybe they'll teach Myca to be a racist wanker as well...

  7. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Hi, I'm Myca. How can I help?

    - What job should I do?

    - MYCA-12412: You are qualified for a job at the other side of the country.

    - I can't work there.

    - MYCA-93121: In order to help you along your next step down your career path, I have automatically generated and accepted your notice of resignation. You have received your P45 via email. Please hand in your badge, leave the building, and print it out later at your own cost. Have a nice day. You are now logged off.

    - But, wait!

    - MYCA-01213: Sorry, unknown user, you are not authorised.

  8. jake Silver badge

    So basically, management are admiting IBM's failed as a company?

    I mean, when management are too embarrassed to actually do their job, part of which entails actually talking to employees, it's pretty much all over, right?

    1. Pete 2 Silver badge

      Re: So basically, management are admiting IBM's failed as a company?

      I think it means (what every IBMer has known for decades) is that IBM Management, and specifically their HR operation is a failure.

      Although it is 20 years since I worked for them, even in those days there was a huge chasm between the day-to-day technical staff: generally on the ball, practical, knew what had to be done, just wanted to get on with doing it - and the managers. They had little or no experience of actual customers. Knew nothing except "processes". Managed by numbers. Simply did not understand any technical reasons for anything that didn't run 3270 protocols. And had no motivation to do anything that didn't directly improve their own lives.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So basically, management are admiting IBM's failed as a company?

        Absolute rubbish. There's lots that's wrong in IBM at the moment but as a manager in IBM there are huge discussions going on about how to best recognise and value our people. This is just one of many things being done to improve the situation. It's interesting that there isn't an article about how IBM is focusing managers on having proper skills and career conversations with their teams... Face to face.

        1. ssharwood

          Re: So basically, management are admiting IBM's failed as a company?

          I'd love to hear from IBM. But it doesn't even send press releases. Local people here in oz know nuh-think. So we rely on other sources

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So basically, management are admiting IBM's failed as a company?

          Cash, cash, cash.

          Powerless 1st line puppets either show the nice face or the nasty face, but either way have no power. Just a proxy, the rubber liner between the staff and the higher management.

          Cash is why I left.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So basically, management are admiting IBM's failed as a company?

          Interesting. My manager regularly cancels their 'Start of Week' briefings (held on a Thursday), the only potential F2F contact I have is maybe once a year for the PBC/Checkpoint meeting so that they can tick that off the list. In fact, my last two PBC/Checkpoint meetings were over the phone.

          My manager has no interest in (or understanding of) what we do unless an escalation comes through or they appear in red on some upper management report for some pleb not filling in their hours plan, TVC, mandatory irrelevant education or CIRATS records.

          My manager is not the exception but more the norm nowadays. The vast majority are too busy trying to save their own jobs by working on high profile activities and asking team leaders to do all the things the managers should be doing. You could decimate the entire managerial class all the way through to the C-Suite without it causing any detrimental effect to performance and I dare say a considerable improvement because we wouldn't be inflicted with whiteboarded ideas promulgated via Powerpoint that add zero value and show how clueless IBM management are.

          I'm guessing your huge discussions on how to best recognise and value people was based on "what can we do that looks like we are doing something but costs nothing..." The fact that huge discussions (ie. meetings, confrerences etc) were required just illustrates the problem - too many people having too many meetings and very little action but as long as something 'looks' like it has been done...

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So basically, management are admiting IBM's failed as a company?

 a manager in IBM there are huge discussions going on about how to best recognise and value our people.

          Ginny, is that you???

          How can you tell when an IBM executive is lying? Their lips are moving.

          How can you tell when an IBM exec is thinking? Aha! Trick question! IBM Execs don't think.

        5. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. handleoclast

      Re: So basically, management are admiting IBM's failed as a company?

      When firing people is a company's core competency, it's doomed.

  9. chivo243 Silver badge

    The letters are in the wrong order

    YMCA, no? Sing it with me!

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      My letters are in disorder

      More of a Tom Robinson Band kind of girl, to be honest. But I'd be glad to sing with anybody... :-)

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: My letters are in disorder

        New theme song for IBMers ... TRB's "Too Good To Be True"?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The letters are in the wrong order

      No, its a typo for MICA (the one with a perfect basal cleavage!)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I am absolutely gobsmacked by the amount of contempt with which the management of IBM treat their staff.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm fairly gobsmacked as a manager in IBM that you believe that this is the only initiative we have to recognise and value our people. As one of the largest companies in the IT industry it is hard to get a full understanding of all of the opportunities to grow skills and career. This tool helps with this. I absolutely still spend time with my team and we talk about skills and next roles all of the time.

      Yes, some people have lost their jobs and that's hard. Yes there are some crap managers as in all organisations. But in general IBM can be a great place to work and as managers we are trying make it better.

      1. Nick 6

        Keep on astroturfing, Shirley.

        IBM can fun to work at despite the managers' inability other than sending 'encouraging' emails.

        To skilled workers in customer facing roles: really, leave now, its the best thing for your career. You will be amazed at how good you are, you are just used to being told you are 'doing fine' but 'only the best' get a 'paultry 1.5% raise'**.

        ** ok the third was my own, but after 4 or 5 years of 1 and 2+ ratings, fairly sick of being told 'lucky boy' for this kind of insult.

      2. ssharwood

        Tell you what - explain to us how this bot helps you as a manager, helps IBM staff and helps IBM.

        Give us an example of better outcomes it delivers.

        Asking cos the IBM staff who pointed it out to us feel it's just more impersonal but insincere "we care about you" stuff in the wake of relocations, resource actions that strip the company of skills needed on live projects and drop remaining colleagues in it, attempts to reduce benefits and a bifurcation of the company in which those who work on the strategic initiatives are valued and the rest just aren't.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An uninformed prototype of an artificial manager.

    Sounds like an upgrade from the actual managers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Your PHB replacement is coming

      In the shape of an AI system. It will only see good/bad or Yes/No. If's , buts and maybe's will be regarded as a sign of weakness, not being a team player.

      Welcome to P.45 land people.

      If your IT Job has not already gone to South Asia or been replaced by a Robot, this is the next step.

      And the idiots in HMG are still talking about getting young people to learn to code... Doh.

      Haven't their £2000/day experts (cough cough) told them that all programming will be done by A.I Systems in the Future?

      Welcome to the world of the breadline and the soup kitchen. There will be no money to pay you dole either.

      We are truly doomed.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Myca, pronounced like the mineral ...

    Like the mineral "mIca" ... and about as flaky.

    1. hplasm

      Re: Myca, pronounced like the mineral ...

      And able to take an enormous amount of heat, as the flames get higher and higher all around it.

  13. John Sanders

    Waiting for the day...

    The day that all IBM employees are replaced by Watson bot instances and they are instructed to talk to the HR bot who will terminate them.

    Rise of the machines.

  14. GruntyMcPugh

    I called this one Six Months Ago,.....

    In the Reg article "IBM marketeers rub out chopper after visit from CEO Ginni "

    I quipped:

    "When I read the phrase "Big Blue chopper" I imagined IBM had come up with a machine that made people redundant. I'm a bit disappointed it turned out to be a helicopter. A remorseless sacking machine would be a good application for Watson."

    I'm glad I left IBM. I'm not glad they are using my ideas however.

  15. GoE

    Seems like the perfect fit for AI, since career advisors don't speak like human beings.

  16. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

    Once he/she/it is "trained", what then? World domination?

    The Brain says he've got a better idea anyway, and sent Pinky off on some errand.

  17. ravenviz Silver badge


    There are some key attributes of good managers to do with emotional intelligence, and for employees to actually 'feel' that *someone* is on their side, has their back. Well in the ideal world anyway. These are noble ideals that all managers should at least be aware of, if not aspire to. Giving these 'duties' to a bot really does not give employees the respect they deserve.

  18. Lt.Kije


    I'd love to tell you how much I loathe these types initiatives and bots, but I don't have strong enough powers of invective.

    It starts with anything that begins with the cringe-worthy "my", as in "my likkle pony". Obsequious, condescending, profoundly insincere and utterly self serving. This is the IBM that Apple railed against and subsequently became.

    There isn't one example of these bots that comes close to even the most incompetent customer service rep (Google support has come close though).

    Dystopia is this running on on Watson.

  19. SomeoneInDelaware

    Next Version

    The next version will be named Catbert.

    1. GruntyMcPugh

      Re: Next Version

      I think you busted the AI. Imagine the scene…. ‘What shall we call you oh great HR AI?’

      “My,… Ca,<del>tbert,</del>”

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Next Version

      The next version will be named Catbert.

      That was the in-house project codename. MYCA is the released product.

      MY CAtbert..get it?


  20. Howard Hanek

    History Repeats Itself

    In the seventeenth and eighteenth century pirates would entertain themselves watching the captured crew and passengers of their prizes walk the plank and probably 'excess' crew as well when the pickings became slim.

    1. Scroticus Canis

      Re: History Repeats Itself

      Your going to have to wait a little for that; Myca is just chumming the waters.

  21. The Empress

    IBM has jobs?

    That's a serious question. In my years there I never saw a single lateral posting that was real. I've never heard of someone using the system to actually find and get a different job. I never saw a single person hired in who wasn't a personal friend of a management consultant last hired by the VP. On rare occasions people were allowed to move laterally if they threatened to quit but that's clearly not going you work this time.

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