It became more difficult. For example, software engineers were often called on to customize field solutions. It was a nimble operation: 1 sales rep, 1 very good sales engineer, and me...quick, agile, and winning serious deals.
After IBM acquisition, an ARMY of less technical people had to be engaged. Trying to throw every product, seeing what stuck, hoping to charge as much as possible. Process oriented administrators wanted a formal SOW and project plan...taking many weeks to do what was once done in a few days. The worst was when administrators imposed a solutions approach, dominating the software engineers.
As for R&D, budgets were cut. Proposals to advance core technology blocked. These are things Google or Facebook would let you prototype with ease.
Like I said, IBM had better do something to reintroduce this spirit of technology initiative and creativity...and yes, treating key sales, marketing, and technology personnel with some perks.
Bottom line: too much administrative overhead and reporting to non-technical people. This degraded product development and field solutions for customers.
On top of that, benefits and perks don't match other bay area companies. They changed the nice 401k match to only 1x/year. You can't even get a free cup of coffee. Cynical. All this works to push away the best engineers, consultants, and sales personnel...whom have much better alternatives.
Google, Facebook, and even Oracle and SAP treat their employees much better, especially engineers. IBM still has a deep bench. But they better address this fast. Like I said, great people leave IBM for Google, not the other way around. It's a shame...because IBM have everything needed to turn it around...except, seemingly, enlightened management that fosters an optimal technology culture.
A top down culture driven by accounting and financial engineering has long eroded IBM. At some point, it became difficult to initiate and promote bottom up innovation. Not only in engineering, but from sales and marketing personnel.
Strict accounting and processes resulted in masses of people being pigeonholed into niche areas. Skills and even work habits degraded. Suffice it to say, especially in services, IBM did not foster a culture of self learning and adaptation...in a day and age of open source products that demand this.
So you're seeing a labor tragedy of sorts as IBM tries to turn itself around. Will it? I'm not sure. Not if Ginni and co remain in charge. No doubt, IBM still has world class engineers...but they're moving on...with no sign that the opposite is occurring in any significance. Engineers leave IBM for Google, not the other way around.
Until this settles, I wouldn't buy. I'm holding my shares...just because. In defiance of rationality. I hold hope that an iconic American machines company will endure this and stay around for another 100 years...although, like I said, I'm not feeling it.