IBM job cuts will improve its customer focus

The announcement by IBM that it plans to cut up to 13,000 jobs, many of them in Europe, will provide UK users with an opportunity...

The announcement by IBM that it plans to cut up to 13,000 jobs, many of them in Europe, will provide UK users with an opportunity to push for a better deal from IBM or consider switching suppliers, experts have said.

IBM announced the planned job cuts - which will fall mainly in the UK, Germany, Italy and France - and centralise its service teams as part of a continuing restructuring of the company following poor financial results.

The company employs 100,000 staff in Europe, with about 25,000 of those in the UK. Large IBM users in the UK include Surrey County Council, Barclaycard and Boots.

A spokesperson for the Corporate IT Forum (Tif), said that IBM's restructuring move will probably result in lower prices for the customer. "Customers should always push for the best deal but that best doesn't necessarily mean cheapest."

Roger Fulton, vice-president of research at Gartner, said, "IBM should now be lowering the cost of delivering their more standard offerings. It is still very much a buyer's market - customers are getting better deals than they probably ever had."

Mark Loughridge, IBM senior vice-president and chief financial officer, said IBM will put more global services staff, processes and tools in "shared centres of excellence" around the globe to "enable skilled professionals to provide support across different functions."

As a result, IBM will have a number of smaller, more flexible local operating units in Europe "to increase direct client contact", he said.

Ray Titcombe, chairman of the Computer User Association, said that other suppliers in the IT industry were facing similar challenges, adding that IBM was likely to become more focused on its customers.

"The potential 'fallout' from this range of changes is that IBM will become a little more customer focused and maybe some customers may  get better deals or options," he said.

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