Honest Vendor Ratings – IBM

Introduction

A company that needs no introduction, IBM has been one of the giants in computer hardware and software since there was computing. It now makes most of its income from software and consulting.

Quality of Information Provided

IBM provides a deficient quality of information to its customers.

Consulting and Support

IBM Global Services is one of the major consulting companies. As IBM is more services business than software-driven, IBM has a great deal of credibility with some clients with regards to technical advice. However, the problem is that all of IBM’s advice comes with a substantial financial bias – that is, they are serving as a “trusted advisor.” Still, curiously all of their recommendations lead to the selection of either IBM or partner software (i.e. Oracle or SAP) for which they have large numbers of resources for which they can bill. How a firm can be both a trusted advisor while they both own applications, and have resources trained on specific products, is difficult to understand. It is a joke. IBM has a clear and indisputable conflict of interest in any recommendation it makes. IBM, as with any of the large consulting companies, lengthens the number of time projects take to maximize billing hours, and has their clients implement very complex applications which are most often uncompetitive solutions.

Internal Efficiency

IBM’s is a large company with a correspondingly low-efficiency level.

Innovation

IBM was, at one time, an innovative company and is still the number one producer of patents in the US. However, this is entirely not evident from evaluating their applications. IBM is one of the great Fake Innovators. This is a bit like analyzing Microsoft, which has 90,000 people that work for it, but it is impossible to tell from actually analyzing the company’s output.

When one looks at IBM’s enterprise software offerings, they are almost entirely acquired applications that receive very little software development and typically obsolesce several years after the acquisition. IBM advertises its innovation in areas like hardware, and it does employ scientists that do actual research, and in things like “big data,” but we rate them as a laggard and a last choice in data applications. IBM’s large number of patents may have something more to do with how the company has the resources to invest in the patent process. This is expensive, and IBM’s weak actual innovation compared to its patent ownership also says something about software patents generally, which are by many patent experts not considered particularly legitimate. It also says something about our patent system that it can be gamed by large companies like IBM that have the resources to put into patent applications creating the illusion of innovation. As a counterpoint, none of the best of breed software vendors that we analyze, that are the most innovative companies have very many patents.

IBM is primarily a serial acquirer for software that it does not improve, and which it then uses its connections into its large customer base to sell into.

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The Necessity of Fact Checking

We ask a question that anyone working in enterprise software should ask.

Should decisions be made based on sales information from 100% financially biased parties like consulting firms, IT analysts, and vendors to companies that do not specialize in fact-checking?

If the answer is “No,” then perhaps there should be a change to the present approach to IT decision making.

In a market where inaccurate information is commonplace, our conclusion from our research is that software project problems and failures correlate to a lack of fact checking of the claims made by vendors and consulting firms. If you are worried that you don’t have the real story from your current sources, we offer the solution.