Is IBM about to massacre its workforce numbers or not? The firm has rubbished claims that north of 100,000 jobs could go in an ambiguous statement that will fuel speculation that something is about to happen.
At the weekend, tech blogger of long standing Robert X. Cringely claimed that the IT giant was about to slash 26 percent of its global headcount, a figure so massive it was treated with scepticism by an incredulous industry. As scare stories go - if that's what it is - this one sounds pretty scary.
IBM was asked for a comment by Techworld and no response was forthcoming, a head-in-the-sand silence that usually bodes ill. However, the firm did later issue the following strange statement to press in a blog.
"IBM does not comment on rumors, even ridiculous or baseless ones," the statement began before going on to do doing precisely that.
"If anyone had checked information readily available from our public earnings statements, or had simply asked us [we did – ed], they would know that IBM has already announced the company has just taken a $600 million charge for workforce rebalancing,” it continued before ending with a flourish.
“This equates to several thousand people, a small fraction of what's been reported."
That appears to be a denial of sorts but it doesn’t in fact deny anything and merely states the fact of job cuts already made. As denials go, this is a collector’s item in avoiding the issue.
We should state that we sincerely hope that IBM is not about to cut jobs on this scale for reasons explained by Cringely himself in his blog. It is entirely possible that IBM is about to cut a much smaller number of jobs, or none at all, but why not just say that? It can’t be beyond the world’s oldest surviving IT firm to work out what’s going on and tell employees, investors and the technology industry that might want to hire some of this talent.
Cringely is an experienced tech writer but he does have a history of giving IBM a very hard time. He might have got the wrong end of this 26 percent figure or just been misinformed. The analysts remain pretty unconvinced. But it shouldn’t be so hard for a giant firm like IBM to put us and him right on such an important tissue.