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IBM pivots again

IBM Services is removing low-growth and low-profit areas, so growth in cloud transformation and AI-related services will no longer be diluted

IBM will spin off a large share of GTS’ activities, or 72% of GTS’ revenues, and 44% of IBM Services’ external revenue, into a separate company. IBM will establish a new entity over the coming quarters, temporarily called NewCo, and expects the transaction to close by the end of 2021. NewCo, which will have $19 billion in trailing 12-month (TTM) revenue and 90,000 employees, will be a managed infrastructure services provider that will deliver traditional infrastructure outsourcing services; transformational services such as infrastructure modernization, public and private cloud management, security, IoT and edge; and innovation services with data and AI integration. GTS’ technology support services, together with the entire GBS segment that encompasses consulting, global process services and application management services, will remain part of the “new” IBM, which will focus on becoming a leader in hybrid cloud platform and AI. Under the new IBM structure, IBM Services will account for $25 billion in TTM revenues, or 42% of IBM’s total revenue, instead of 59% of IBM’s total revenue prior to the spin-off, and will have approximately 94,000 employees in TBR’s estimates.

Because of the current largeness of IBM, the split into two entities — new IBM and NewCo — is a positive change as it enables more versatility and the ability to adjust strategies according to the needs of specific markets in which each entity will operate. Peeling out GTS’ managed infrastructure services activities, such as traditional information technology outsourcing, which has been negatively affected on the revenue and profitability sides by increased competition and commoditization, will help the new IBM Services return to revenue growth and improve its profitability profile as both metrics have been dragged by the underperforming GTS segment. GTS has been experiencing declining revenues over the past eight quarters and its pre-tax margin was 5.8% in 2019 compared to 9.6% for GBS. While in 1Q20 IBM implemented structural actions to improve cost competitiveness in the GTS portfolio and GTS’ pre-tax margin dropped to a loss of 2.6%, the activities were not sufficient to convince IBM’s new CEO, Arvind Krishna, to keep GTS and IBM Services in their current structure.

After pursuing multiple strategic initiatives over the past several years to better integrate the IBM Global Business Services (GBS) and Global Technology Services (GTS) segments within IBM Services and provide holistic design-build-run solutions to clients, on Oct. 8 IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced it is making a major — and reportedly final — change to the IBM Services organization. IBM is splitting into two entities: IBM, which will be a hybrid cloud platform and AI company with $59 billion in annual revenues, and NewCo, which will deliver managed infrastructure services and generate $19 billion in annual revenues.

Know-your-tech strategy could be invaluable as Logicalis aims to disrupt peers in cloud managed services market

TBR perspective

Logicalis’ efforts to optimize its legacy operations while doubling down on key growth areas such as cloud will largely depend on the company’s ability to develop integrated scale to ensure standardized service delivery. Evolving portfolio offerings, including the launch of its Digital Service Platform (DSP), paired with strengthening partner ecosystem relationships, will allow Logicalis to appeal to a broader buyer base and potentially disrupt the engagement model services companies are typically known for by offering digital routes to its services catalog. TBR believes this approach will be particularly applicable as COVID-19 pressures high-touch consulting services. Logicalis’ global scale is just the right size to test such a strategy as the company maintains a diverse mix of midmarket and enterprise clients. While the former group is the prime target for selling and supporting services through a click-to-buy model, many cost-conscious buyers from the latter group are also seeking ways to minimize external spend, providing Logicalis with a strong test bed for its customer experience model. Logicalis is not looking to change its DNA but rather to blend the best of both worlds with minimal disruption — adopting a software company-like sales strategy while maintaining human-delivered, automation-enabled services support to drive recurring (e.g., “as a Service”) revenue at scale. We recognize that this is easier said than done, but at least the company’s leadership appears to have their priorities aligned, which is a good place to start.

Logicalis will rely on strong customer service and repeatable IP to reshuffle the composition of its P&L toward more profitable recurring revenue opportunities

After only two weeks on the job as CEO, Robert Bailkoski, like many of his peers, had to address the global threat COVID-19 posed to the company’s operations, employees and clients. Bailkoski’s tenure with the company as CFO and later as COO had prepared him (as much as anyone could be prepared for a pandemic) not only to handle the situation with minimal disruption but also to ensure he stayed the course on many of the priorities he had set prior to becoming CEO. With Logicalis’ performance deeply rooted in selling both hardware and software products, which combined currently generate about 60% of company’s global revenue, Bailkoski knew he had an uphill battle as these areas are becoming largely commoditized and thus pressuring the company’s top and bottom lines.

In a recent conversation with Robert Bailkoski, Logicalis Group’s newly appointed CEO, as well as Vince DeLuca, Logicalis Group’s customer experience & service transformation officer, TBR had a chance to hear firsthand about the company’s goals and investments as it continues its journey to become a globally integrated solutions provider. TBR appreciated Bailkoski’s and DeLuca’s grounded approach to the company’s transformation, which is not something many newly appointed executives pursue as they often seek to create a name for themselves by making fundamental changes. We believe both Bailkoski’s and DeLuca’s tenure and understanding of the company have provided them with good visibility into Logicalis’ strengths and weakness and a sense of accountability needed to reach the company’s goals.