Oct 11, 2017
Tomás O'Leary
Tomás O'Leary
Tomás O'Leary

When customers first contact Origina, most are concerned they are not getting value for money spent on official IBM support contracts. Worse still, many encounter problems getting the support they need for their systems; some report spending months chasing technical support for status updates and solutions to logged issues.

Clearly this is a significant problem for any business. On a financial level, customers already have to accept annual increases on IBM support costs, and a premium for maintenance of post-warranty applications (assuming IBM have agreed to support their old installation).

Operationally, the problem may be even more serious. Technical issues have a direct effect on efficiency and productivity; the longer they go unresolved, the greater the impact on profit margins. If these issues are not resolved quickly, the effects can be seen in the quality of service offered to customers.

And while they wait for a response from IBM support engineers, these organisations are unable to undertake the digital transformation projects required to compete in an increasingly agile marketplace.


A major restructuring program – and a lot of lay-offs

In order to shore up profits, IBM has undertaken a massive global restructuring program. One estimate at the start of the program in 2015, suggested that up to 26% of Big Blue’s workforce (112,000 jobs) would be lost. The following year a Wall Street Journal quoted another source claiming more than 14,000 jobs were lost in 2016.

IBM argue that the cuts are being made carefully in over-staffed areas of the business. According to IBM announcements, they hired 45,000 new people in 2014 for instance. And there are always thousands of positions needing to be filled across the world.

If the company is shedding jobs, a slight delay in resolving support calls may be expected. But according to IBM®, there are sufficient engineers in place to serve their customers.

So what is wrong with IBM support?


For IBM, product engineers are a dying breed

The restructuring program at IBM is not just about cost savings however. Cloud services and subscription-based applications are incredibly popular with users – but they severely dent IBM’s profits. Unsurprisingly, IBM is trying to reposition itself as a service-led organisation, focusing on Cloud services and analytics provisions.

The change in focus means that new hires are focused on Cloud engineers. At the same time, lay-offs are being targeted at traditional software engineers – particularly product specialists for older applications.

And herein lies the crux of the problem. IBM’s current strategy means that they are deliberately shedding the engineers required to support many of their customer’s most important platforms.


Poor service by design?

For IBM, this is a win-win. Poor levels of service for older systems can be used as additional leverage for driving customers back on to the IBM upgrade cycle. If IBM support cannot provide timely technical assistance for the software version being used, customers will have another solid reason for purchasing a newer version. Or switching to a Cloud-based subscription alternative. And at the same time, the cost of providing support continues to fall, increasing margins on maintenance contracts.

As such, there is no incentive at all for increasing headcount supporting older applications.


Time to investigate other options

The long-term effects of sub-standard IBM support cannot be ignored. Clearly IBM will not be raising the quality of service on offer to users of older systems, so it makes no business sense to renew a contract that does not deliver the coverage your business needs.

Instead, your team needs to seriously look at the alternatives; upgrading to a new, unproven version of your software, or to investigate support provisions from a third party who specialises in older IBM applications. Where money and operational disruption are significant considerations, you will almost certainly find that a third party is a more logical choice.

To discuss your support needs, and how third party IBM support from Origina can deliver timely resolutions to technical issues, please get in touch.


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