Ginni blasts 'slow' IBM staff after poor Q1 results

Rometty tells Big Blue sales bods to move faster to close deals


IBM chief Virginia Rometty has issued a company-wide dressing-down to staff who are "too slow", after the firm's disappointing first quarter results.

Rometty sent off a five-minute internal video message to IBMers, seen by the Wall Street Journal, where she blamed the company's sales staff for the results, saying they failed to get ink on the page for a number of potential deals.

"As the quarter ended, hundreds of millions of dollars of software and mainframe opportunities, they didn't close - and in a number of cases because we didn't move fast enough," she said.

"We were too slow to understand the value and then engage on the approval and the sign-off process [for one big software pitch].

"The result? It didn't get done."

The Big Blue head said that if a client were to have any requests or questions in the future, IBM had better have a response ready within a day.

"And if anything slows you down, call it out. Engage management, engage leadership and let's deal with it," she told staff.

IBM has already warned its "under-performing" storage crew that it will be taking "substantial actions" to sort out that area of its business and Rometty has also switched the head of corporate strategy with the head of systems and technology in a bid to shake things up.

The boss wasn't all doom and gloom in her video pep talk, saying that the company's strategy was "the right one" and "fundamentals are strong".

"I know we will confront this honestly and with urgency, and moments like this are when IBMers rise to the occasion. We don't retreat; we go on the offense," she added.

Big Blue missed its first quarter targets after expected income from mainframe systems and related software deals, along with patent licences, had to be rolled over into the second quarter.

CFO Mark Loughridge blamed everything from the timing of the Easter holidays to the political power change in China in a conference call with analysts, but also admitted that the firm had had sales execution problems in certain markets.

IBM declined to comment on the staff video. ®

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