am 20. Juli 2014
Robert X. Cringely is a pen name. His real name is Mark Stephens. For further details about his personality go to Wikipedia.
The Preface of this diatribe ends with “Alas, that IBM no longer exists. So I had to write this book to get it back.” Cringely-Stephens never worked in IBM, his motivation seems dubious.
His book’s 187 pages contain 96 pages of quotations declared as input from IBM insiders either anonymous or signed with a name, maybe with a pen name like Cringely-Stephens: 28 pages with ca. 50 inputs dated May 2007; 10 pages with 16 inputs dated 2009; 3 pages with 6 inputs dated 2011; 21 pages with 28 inputs dated 2012 and 20 pages with almost 50 inputs dated 2013, in total ca. 150 inputs. To put this into perspective: IBM has approx. 430.000 employees!
Cringely-Stephens writes in his Introduction: “here is “an e-mail I received this January from a complete stranger at IBM. I have since confirmed the identity of this person. He or she is exactly as described.” … “Please keep this confidential as to who I am, because I’m going to tell you the inside scoop you cannot get. I am rated as a #1. That’s as high as you go, so calling me a disgruntled employee won’t work.” The name of this person remains undisclosed.
He continues: “The only time a traditional reporter bothers to look – really look – inside a company is if they have a book contract, and that is rare. But I’ve been banging away at this story for seven years.” Finishing this pamphlet triggers the famous question “Cui bono?” Maybe he has been commissioned with a “secret” book contract by an IBM enemy, who knows.
Readers will neither find an index nor a bibliography, there are no references to any source which would enable the reader to cross check and research in more details what Cringely-Stephens has exuded, he did not provide any figures, data and facts proving his toxic accusations beside input from his leakers.
Emerson W. Pugh, maybe the best author about IBM wrote in the Introduction of his excellent book “Building IBM”, published in 1996: “No company of the twentieth century achieved greater success and engendered more admiration, respect, envy, fear, and hatred than IBM.” It is very easy to position Cringely-Stephens within this criteria. .
Where there’s smoke there is fire. I am not wearing rose-colored or “blue” glasses; I am aware of problems inside and with IBM, however the sources are public, well researched, documented and transparent. This is a big difference and provides IBM, IBMers and other interested people to cross check the relevance of findings.
I wish that IBM executives with all IBM employees would return to growth, because a market share of 3% of the IT market (Gartner: 3.700 B$) and a declining IBM revenue since nine subsequent quarters is not a success, despite increasing EPS which appear like squeezing a lemon.
I wish IBM executives would return to basic beliefs developed by Watson Sr. und Watson Jr. in the best interests of the IBM Corporation, IBM Customers, and of IBM Employees who are the source for what is most important overall: IBM customer loyalty and satisfaction.
The best products and services cannot be developed, sold and serviced by demotivated employees. Demotivated employees will neither win nor keep satisfied customers.
However, we also must take into account that IBM has not anymore a major market share in major market segments, we live in a totally different, globalized competitive environment than IBM in the Watsons decades.
IBM is well served with wakeup calls from inside as well as from the outside if it is done in a constructive way, not the Cringely-Stephens’s way: aggressive, unproven assessments and accusations, partly wrong statements and conclusions which trigger doubt about the whole book.
If Cringely-Stephens objective really was and is “Alas, that IBM no longer exists. So I had to write this book to get it back.” my conclusion is that he failed.