IBM Australia to end on-shore software support

Technology Support Services has no global follow-the-sun support model, rates lack of one a ‘serious problem’ in Oz

IBM’s Technology Support Services operation will “officially” end on-shore software support on June 30th in Australia and New Zealand, The Register has learned.

We understand that a handful of staff have moved into other units of IBM in which they will continue to provide on-shore software support.

While the number of redundancies as a result of the move is not high – around 15 – The Register understands that IBM executives feel the decision to make cuts was made without proper planning for how to handle customers’ urgent problems.

We understand the company no longer feels it has processes sufficient to support mission-critical applications 24x7, as escalation procedures will soon be uncertain.

Interestingly, we understand the antipodean situation is not typical: other regions are making their own arrangements, leaving IBM with multiple processes around the world. And IBM TSS clients, therefore, presumably with a need to work differently in different locations.

Which is a problem unto itself because IBM promotes Technology Support Services (TSS) as capable of supporting just about anything, anytime, anywhere. Big Blue suggests that offering itself as one throat to choke makes life easier than maintaining multiple vendor relationships.

Uncertain and inconsistent escalation procedures do not appear to be something IBM advances as a unique selling point for the service.

Ending on-shore software support may well prove problematic for IBM Australia and New Zealand. The Register is aware of some local customers, mostly in the public sector, who require on-shore and/or security-cleared staff to perform their work. Such customers tell us they regularly review their suppliers’ disposition to ensure they are compliant with those requirements. The Register understands one business unit of IBM is already in breach of those requirements with at least one Australian financial institution.

Consider, also, the impact on IBM. The Register has heard that IBM’s antipodean staff, in TSS and other business units, frequently feel they are being asked to take on work for which they do not possess the necessary skills and cannot therefore provide excellent service. IBMers in public forums speak of workers in the company's cloudy-and-analytical "strategic initiatives" as being more valued than those doing jobs like software support. Considerable resentment about that situation is not helping morale, which won't help the level of service IBM offers.

The Register asked IBM for comment on the situation at TSS. A spokesperson replied “We are continuing to reposition our team to align with our focus on the high-value segments of the IT market” and added “We continue to hire aggressively in critical new areas that deliver value for our clients and IBM.”

The Register responded by asking “How does IBM recreate the experience of having on-shore workers once they are no longer in place?” and “How does IBM ensure it remains equally and equally able to understand customers' environments when teams have never met clients face to face, and may not understand local cultural nuances?”

We have not received a response to those questions at the time of publication.

The Register understands, however, that IBM is working on “true follow-the-sun support model” but that for now TSS managers consider global inconsistency a “serious problem.” ®

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