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Due to changes in my job situation, I feel that I can take a better stab at looking at this situation.

My story:

I have an MBA, worked for IBM Global Services for 3 years (left by my own choice), and then I switched to PwC Consulting for 2.5 years. After 18 months of layoffs, my group was gone and I was one of the last to go. (sigh of relief at not having to wait for the axe to fall from week to week). I don't think I hold anything against either company and would work for them again if the opportunity was right. IBM did not check the "Do not rehire" in my exit interview and the PwC partner who did the exit interview said he'd take me back in a minute if business was better. So, no grudges on my part, business is business.

On with my thoughts:

The first issue is selling business. PwC has been hurt pretty badly by the economy and accounting problems. Once the deal is done, PwC Consulting will have the legal independence from PwC that customers are demanding, but will have to fight the perceived lack of technology independence from IBM and a tough economic environment. I think IBM and PwC have different selling styles and how they work together will be interesting to see. IBM often has the ground troops in there winning projects through performance, while PwC is in the 'C' level offices (CEO, CFO, CIO...) selling deals based on relationships.

So, let's assume that the economy gets better and things start to roll again in the next 12-18 months. The new combined organization is selling it's socks off.

I think the next issue is resources. Both organizations have cut a number of resources. I think PwC more than IBM (in percentage terms), but that is hard to verify. In any case, a lot of the folks remaining are not happy. PwCers took a 7% across the board pay cut last year and look to have little or no performance based pay raises this year. These are road warriors, flying almost every week of the year and working long hours. It would be a good guess that a lot of folks will be or are looking for other opportunities. The market improving means that those opportunities will exist. IBM will then be competing with the remains of the Big 5 to retain resources and things could turn ugly fast. Additionally, they will need to learn how to hire folks that would have previously gone to work for the Big 5.

Next, there is the culture issue. I found that it was like pulling teeth to get IBMers in a class or on a project to go out for dinner or drinks in the evening. At PwC it was almost a given that not only were you going to go out, but that you were going to get a really good meal. There were no daily meal limits while on the road. The limit was "actual and reasonable" and reasonable was often pushed to the limit. Take someone who is used to this type of environment and put them into one where an expense is rejected because it is $0.01 over the "daily limit" and you will not have a happy population in whoville.

Finally, there is the "partner" issue. The goal of the individual at PwC was to become a partner. That was where the big bucks was at. I heard that an average partner might bring in $500,000 a year in salary/bonuses. These folks are used to running the show, after all they were running their own business...especially the senior partners. IBM is going to have to figure out how to retain the top performing partners.

I can't speak a whole lot to the lay of the land in terms of changes at IBM and general feelings of the population. I do know a number of folks there who are not happy or are just holding on until they are vested in retirement, find another job, etc.

Okay, but what about the business match. I think it is excellent. PwC Consulting does things that IBM has been trying to do for years. They have some of the best folks in any industry. The breadth and depth of their industry skills is really amazing. IBM has great breadth and depth in technical skills. Not to say that IBM doesn't have industry knowledge or that PwC doesn't have technical knowledge. The combination could work out wonderfully...if they get the integration and marketing pitch right.

In the event that this does not work out at all, IBM has effectively taken another player out of the market at a pretty cheap price. A great deal either way, in my opinion.

In summary:
1. IBM/PwC Consulting has to do a good job selling. The window of opportunity to do so is not forever.

2. IBM/PwC Consulting has some retention/hiring issues to deal with.

3. IBM/PwC Consulting has some cultural integration issues to deal with.

4. The business match is a good one, but will require a good "go to market" plan and good execution.

5. This was a good deal for IBM. If things go well, it will show remarkable vision. If things don't go well, the market will be better for IBM at a relatively cheap price.


Disclaimer: The above is just a listing of my opinions and it should be taken under consideration that I'm a former employee of both companies. I would put in the standard stuff about the opinions being my own, but as I'm taking a little time between jobs...I don't know who else would have a claim to my opinions. *grin* As I have posted in the past, I am currently an IBM stockholder and IBM stock makes up a significant percentage of my portfolio.
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