Is IBM a Social Business, I doubt it

ibm soclal business

UPDATE (10 oct, ’13): After speaking with several IBM’ers in the real world and in the comments below, I have learned that the story below is not business as usual at IBM. Questions have been asked and people have been approached in order to rectify the faulty process.

It goes to show, that kicking up some dust is a good way of determining a companies intend.
I will leave the story below intact, as a reminder of how not to be a social business. But, by now, IBM has proven that it has every intend of being (or becoming) a social business, in all it’s facets.


When I talk about Social Business, I regularly mention (and praise) IBM for doing it right. For being at the forefront of the “movement”, for providing many a company with SocBiz solutions and actually being a Social Business.

I’m going to stop talking about IBM. I don’t believe they are as social as they think they are.

ibm soclal businessLet me explain:

My wife and I make decisions which usually result in dramatic course changes. We do this because we like a change of scenery or because we want a change in career.., or whatever. We just leap.

One of the leaps is me finding my way into Social Business on my own, switching my ‘career’ into a higher gear and into a field which I’m passionate about.

There are many ways to earn a buck or two, and I’m not one to dismiss an opportunity. Reading about IBM and its views on, and practices of Social Business, made me keep an my eye on them (it would be a very cool company to work for).

At Bat

The first chance was the best vacancy I ever saw: Senior Social Business Consultant.., yup, that would be me. So, I applied, I even had a recently met on-line friend endorse me. My friend also confirmed that they received my E-book: “Why? Social Business“.

But, I never heard anything from IBM. I figured holidays and the like must get in the way. So I waited a bit.

First Strike

After not even receiving a confirmation I decided to call them, as a follow up on the application. All the way to London. A very friendly (they’re always friendly) person told me that if I applied for a vacancy (which I did), I’d be contacted.., maybe. I could not get anybody else on the phone.

Second Strike

Making a phone call is always a good idea. Getting a personal connection going is one of the better strategies. So, I called again, this in Belgium (closer to home and where the original vacancy was found).

After dealing with a menu, I talked to a person who could not help me with the application, that’s recruitment and no, I could not speak to them. But, I could send an email and she’d make sure, if it was a good email, that recruitment would get it.
By now I read that IBM and Dachis were teaming up to provide more and better social business services. I figured that they would need all the help they could get.

Third Strike

Not a peep after this email, not even a single automated “we’ve received your email” notification.., nothing. So, I called again.

This time the message was that, although they’re sorry, but the email could not be found. Say what? This is IBM, one of the biggest software companies in the world, and they loose email. Nobody looses emails any more.., not since 2009. Not ever, I still have every single email send and received since 2005, not one is “lost”.

Plus, this person said that it’s no use sending emails with an open application, because, you know, that’s like, just weird. Why would I want to offer my services to IBM?
No, you apply to a vacancy but, you only get a response (any response apparently) when they deem you worthy of an interview.

And I don’t know the status of the vacancy because a) it’s no longer on-line and b) nobody will tell me anything and I don’t get past their call centre.

And Your Out!

I don’t know IBM, I never worked for them, but everything I read is positive (I can’t imagine people are getting paid to write positive things about IBM), and the few people whom I know work for IBM are positive too.

It could be just me, but, if my interactions with the company stand for anything, than it’s quite the opposite of “social”. Maybe they can sell it really, really well to their customers and partners, but I’m not buying it.

Really, if you have nearly 3000 open vacancies (world wide) and your business is Social Business, which is, or will be, the hottest thing on the planet the coming decade.., then you want all the help you can get. Then you want to receive emails, phone calls, tweets or homing pigeons from people who have something genuine to offer you.

At the very, very least.., acknowledge an email (don’t “loose” it).

Author: Rogier Noort

Digital Transformer | Thinker | Listener | Speaker | Podcaster | Writer | Blogger Twitter or LinkedIn.

9 thoughts on “Is IBM a Social Business, I doubt it”

    1. Hey Luis, thanks for the (unexpected) offer. The job ID is “GBS-0569516”. Curious to what you might find.

      1. Hey, so I spent some time looking at this but couldn’t find that job posting so I can’t tell who was the hiring manager. You should have received an email confirmation regardless so it’s very strange you didn’t. Did you check your spam folder in case your email server mis-classified the communication?

        Also, I did find GBS-0585470 which you may be interested in as well. I’ve sent out a note to the hiring manager to see where they are in the hiring process. Will keep you posted.

        1. Cheers Luis! Much appreciate you looking into this. Nothing in the trash, I reckon it must get lost somewhere.

          GBS-0585470 looks interesting, based in the UK though, not really a full-time option for me (I’m on the continent). Thanks though.

  1. Rogier, I am sorry to hear it. I will reach out to Luis Benitez as well. How very disappointing… I wondered what had happened, and now I know.

    1. Hey Maureen.., yeh, disappointment. I felt really strong about it after such a fantastic start. Had a good feeling about. Was thinking of you when writing the post.., obviously didn’t want to get personal.
      Luis’ and your reactions are just fantastic. It’s the individual who makes a business social. Policies and workflows have to adapt accordingly…

      Thanks for dropping in…

  2. Hi Rogier,

    Thanks a lot for putting together this blog post and for tweeting about it. Even if it was an “oldie”, it’s still a goodie 🙂 I am, too, very disappointed that we couldn’t deliver, at least, on the whole process of responding back to your initial enquiries. Definitely, not the way social recruiting works nowadays, anyway. I can see how both fellow colleagues, and good friends, Maureen and fellow “tocayo” Luis have been in touch with you trying to help out. That’s very helpful and refreshing in contrast with the original story.

    I can tell you that IBM is transforming and quite radically the whole recruiting process making it pretty much more of a social experience, but I can see how in this particular case it failed pretty badly on something so simple: responding back!

    I do know the folks behind the whole social recruiting process and everything and will make a note of this post and will share it with them next week Monday, after the weekend 🙂 , to ask them to investigate further what happened and where did things go wrong and let you know about it. And if there are any other opportunities, like Luis Benitez mentioned, I will ask them as well to reach out to you and see if they can offer something. No guarantees, Rogier, but I will ask them to try their best.

    Social Business has never been about organisations, brands or products. It’s always been about people doing business with other people, and, as such, while some times things may fail, there is always room for improvement. It’s a journey with many paths. Some times you take the right one and some other times you take the wrong one. The important thing is to learn from it and keep moving forward on that particular journey… 🙂

    PS. Hey, I am going to be in Amsterdam & Rotterdam on September 17th till 20th this year, so if you are around I would love to meet up and perhaps introduce you to some of the local folks who are also doing lots of social business. Let me know if you would be around, please.

    And thanks again for putting together this blog post and for sharing this story with us. Let’s see if we can learn from it 🙂

    1. Hey Luis, thanks for adding this. The other comments by Maureen and (the other) Luis are very positive. Although, I must say, I have no doubt about the people working for IBM and their intentions (or IBM’s intentions at large).

      It’s the procedures that got in the way…

      In the meantime an e-mail was send, recruitment had investigated but couldn’t find me, nor the vacancy (nor tried to contact me). So, yeh, something went somewhere totally wrong. I think it was a classic case pushing the right button at the wrong time.

      Having you bring it up in a meeting is interesting, see what comes out of it.

      p.s. Yes, we have to meet up. I’ll tweet you…

      1. Hi Rogier, thanks for the follow-up comment! Yeah, some times process is the one that gets in the way, specially, as to how mysteriously it seems to deviate things from the normal swing of things, which is why I will be contacting those folks I know from HR / recruiting and see if we can figure out what happened this time and how we can prevent it for the future and perhaps point out other relevant opportunities that may well be there.

        This is one of those typical examples where process overrides the human intent, but I am sure we can revert it back, learned from what went wrong and improve that overall experience.

        Look forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks in Rotterdam, Rogier. Enjoy the rest of the weekend and I will be in touch early next week 🙂

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