As way to provide a transparent view of workforce

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. IBM faced the challenge with
a new vision and reorganization such as duplication of roles, increasing costs
and efficiency impairing. The new challenges asked for the new ways and
solutions for IBM. Ultimately, executives desired the integration of their HR
infrastructure and the businesses’ strategy.

Taking into
consideration that at that time (2003) IBM had approximately 350,000 employees,
90 thousand contractors and tens of thousands of job applicants. (Boudreau, 2008)  The existing IBM’s talent
management system did not consider the talent needs of globally integrated
enterprise. What IBM really needed was globally integrated approach and
standard implementation process for its subsidiaries 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. The new approach that considers people
being the company’s most valuable asset.(Sangani,

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“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” (Boudreau, 2008) .

Moreover, from strategic
perspective the full potential of the other production areas cannot be achieved
unless the company does not find a globally integrated approach to its human
resource.  Among existing HR solutions in
the market at that time there was no completely suiting all the parameters of
GIE (Palmisano, 2006).

 “…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”(Boudreau,

The core idea of IBM’s HR
chief was to create a constantly updating supply talent management system
rather than a simply database of jobs and skills. This new system was meant to fulfill
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 (Palmisano, 2006).

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.

“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 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.

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 (Palmisano, 2006).

Considering all the challenges that were described, 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 (Boudreau, 2008) :

Resource management

Needs 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

requires 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
missing (Boudreau, 2008)  :

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.


To sum it up, the company’s executives 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. (Sangani, 2014)

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 of integrated talent management supply chain became a
reality when the Workforce Management Initiative (WMI) was implemented in IBM.