IBM to GTS: We want you to 'rotate' clients every two years

What about trust and long-term relationships? ask Big Blue field engineers

Exclusive IBM will ask Global Technology Services engineers to "rotate" from "existing assignments" every two years in a working model overhaul that some staff warned could weaken client relations.

Under the current setup, IBMers working in the field can transfer to different projects or work across multiple accounts but they generally tend to have a "home" account where they spend much of the time.

Notice of this change, according to an internal GTS memo entitled "Rotation Model" that was seen by The Register, has so far only been sent to delivery managers.

Our industry is changing at a breakneck speed, as are the skills required to keep pace. It's more critical than ever, in serving our clients, that we provide the right skills in the right place at the right time.

To that end, GTS is making a change: we are moving to a model where employees are expected to rotate much more frequently from their existing assignments after a period of 24 months.

IBM is relying on delivery managers to feed the new model down to employees. This is understood to be a global initiative but El Reg has no indications when this will start.

The reason for the change, the memo continued, is that IBM wants to give employees the ability to "acquire new skills" via the IBM Services Academy or by dealing with "different parts of the business".

"The new roles will give our team members an opportunity to stretch themselves. This also helps GTS; a more fluid talent model will benefit our clients and improve business performance," the missive stated.

IBM signed off by saying it is relying on delivery managers to "make this happen".

"Being a good manager includes embracing personal responsibility to your team members, and one example to demonstrate that is taking an active interest in their careers and professional development."

The rotation concept doesn't resonate with everyone at GTS. We spoke to several staffers who claimed it could hinder good old-fashioned relationships with customers.

One told The Register: "Given the complexity of many of the accounts, how the heck are [IBM] people meant to actually deliver a proper service? Once people are really getting up to speed they'll be onto another account. I'm sure that is not very good for customers."

Another agreed the arrangement might not help to "build trust".

GTS is the most challenged department for IBM – as the Enterprise Services outsourcing unit was for HPE. While IBM recently broke the duck on its 22-straight quarter revenue decline, GTS was one area that failed to expand.

IBM is wrestling with the impact of cloud computing on field services and customers' growing reluctance to sign off big-ticket outsourcing projects. As such, GTS has gone through multiple redundancy rounds in the West to cut its cloth accordingly, ramping the workforce in near-shore and offshore locations.

IBM refused to comment. ®

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