As IBM became a GIE (globally integrated enterprise), the human capital
strategy started playing a crucial role for the company’s competitive success
in the future. Several new HR issues has appeared in terms of new
organizational structure and shift from multinational to globally integrated
organization such as duplication of roles and infrastructure resulting in
increasing costs  and effecting process
efficiency. The new challenges asked for the new ways and solutions for IBM.

„The talent lifecycle includes
not only attracting and retaining the best people but also motivating and
developing, connecting and enabling, and effectively deploying and managing
them around the globe.”

Taking into consideration that at that time (2003) IBM had approximately
350,000 employees, 90 thousand contractors and tens of thousands of job
applicants.  The existing IBM’s talent
management system did not consider the talent needs or globally integrated
enterprise. What IBM really needed was globally integrated approach and
standard implementation process for its companies all around the globe. Focus
on accurately projecting demand and a creating a sufficient supply of talent in
spite of against multinational model, which usually tends to be operated
separately in each region.

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 Moreover, from strategic perspective
unless the company does not find a globally integrated approach to its human
resource the full potential of the other production areas cannot be achieved.  Among existing HR solutions in the market at
that time there was no completely suiting all the parameters of GIE.

 „…no organization had successfully developed a
way to provide a transparent view of workforce capabilities and needs that
could guide planning, employee career decisions, business leader talent and
strategy decisions, and at the same time be engaging and compelling enough to
become a natural part of the management processes.”

Considering people being the company’s most valuable asset

The core idea of IBM’s HR chief was to create a constantly updating supply
system rather than a simply database of jobs and skills. This new system was
meant to fill the gap of global organization to have a comprehensive and
transparent overview of its talent supply, job needs, and implication of
business strategy. At the same very time the new approach should have included different
elements like softwares, technologies, trainings and others.

Simultaneously, the new system needed to be effective at different levels
of business.

From corporation’s point of view, the task was to build up a system that
will help to move talents between countries when necessity arise from the
company or from clients. In addition to that, shift the HR department form
operating in one country or region to the globally integrated network.

From workers perspective the goal as to create a constantly updating system
where they can track and plan their developments and achievements as well as
monitor the global and inter-department possibilities for their future growth considering
IBM workers as the most valuable asset.

“We’ll manage each person
within each group as an asset and develop them accordingly. You’ll have talent,
learning and compensation people all managing people within their assigned
levels.”(Grossman, 2007)

From client’s perspective to provide unique propositions, considering international
needs of the business based on the good knowledge of the client industry and
global implications processes. A global client strategy of IBM was to provide
their customers with software, hardware, business processing, consulting and
more – wherever and whenever customers need it .Moreover global
customers wanted to deal with one IBM, not many different national units.


IBM came to the idea of applying the supply chain concept form the
operations management to HR processes. The concept of  the talent management supply chain is based on
four core elements:

Resource management

elements like accurate inventory of skills and talent, demand forecast,
capacity planning, and workforce rebalancing.

Talent and mobility management

requires a common taxonomy, common
profiles for all sources of labor, and decision support.

Learning opportunities

Include tight alignment with business
objectives, accurate skills assessments, skill-gap management, and alignment
with skills development systems and programs.

Supplier or vendor management

alignment of supplier strategy with resource management strategy.

However, to implement the talent management supply chain into to the
everyday process was not possible as the following technical elements were

No design for end-to-end resource supply chain.No central accountability for workforce management.No standard for defining the workforce.Labor pools managed independently by business units.Limited forecasting of anticipated resource demand.Difficulty in linking training investments with market needs.No unified sourcing strategy.Management systems that did not encourage cross-unit collaboration.


Executive directors also
understood that for IBM to build a sustained competitive advantage in this new
world, it would have to have excellent human capital. People and their acquired
skills were the foundation of competitive advantage. Companies that rely on
technological or manufacturing innovations alone cannot be expected to dominate
their markets for a very long time. In IBM’s view, the quality and strategic
deployment of human capital is what separates winners from outsiders. This was
particularly true for a company like IBM, which increasingly relied on its
people to build and deliver world-class services.

To execute this strategy, global product divisions were created, but that
alone was not enough. IBM’s existing human resource systems were not aligned
with the new strategy. Much of the hiring, training, and staffing functions of
HR were still based in national units. The company lacked a global approach to
managing and deploying its human capital.

The vision became a reality when the Workforce Management Initiative (WMI) was
implemented in IBM.


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