What Netezza Employees Might Be Able To Look Forward To
Let me first start out by saying that this is my opinion and my opinion only. The possibility of IBM buying Netezza has resulted in lots of news articles, tweets, blog postings and forum discussion on big data, analytics and more, yet no one is really talking about what transpires during an acquistion by IBM. As a former executive that has gone through an acquistion by IBM (Ascential Software), I'm here to tell Netezza employees that it was a very positive experience. In fact, if we were going to be acquired by any company, I was glad it was IBM for several reasons. So here is some insight and advice to those at Netezza that may potentially be joining IBM.
1. IBM has learned a great deal over the years about what it takes to successfully execute on acquisitions ranging from small very private companies like iPhrase to very large companies like Cognos, Ascential, Tivoli, Rational and Lotus. During the early years of IBM acquisitions, some at IBM will tell you it was a very tough process and that they learned a great deal from the mistakes and experiences from the past including the acquisition of Lotus and Tivoli which seem to have been difficult acquisitions. Taking those experiences from the past, learning about what worked and what didn't has helped IBM create a winning formula for executing on its acquisition efforts. Another large company that is known for executing on great acquisitions is Cisco.
2 When I went through the acquisition process by IBM while at Ascential, we were assigned an acquisition executive who helped the entire team understand everything about the process and guided the effort for well over a year. The executive assigned to us was well respected and conducted themselves with the utmost of professionalism. He was very impressive and was very embracing of the team at Ascential. To this date, I can't think of anyone on the Ascential team that didn't appreciate the work that was done by this IBM acquisition executive along with his team.
3. Excellent communications. IBM does a terrific job providing very clear and concise communications to employees from the time the acquisition is announced to your first official day as an IBM employee. Keep on top of these communications and you will be in great shape. When we arrived at our offices on our first day, we had new Thinkpad laptops and lots of instructions on how to get up and running on the IBM software including Lotus Notes, Expense system and other important services that are invaluable to the IBM employee including the internal IBM employee directory that was called Blue Pages at the time I joined IBM. I was very impressed with the Blue Pages system as it was a gold mine of the who of IBM.
4. If a Netezza employee feels that they might carry a chip on their shoulder during and after the acquistion, you might want to shake it off and get ready for a wonderful ride. I was fortunate enough to be on the very leading edge of the acquisition process. Because of this, I got an early dose of working with the IBM team prior to the acquisition and the internal announcement. The IBM'rs were professional, engaging, energized and enthusiastic about embracing their future colleagues.
5. A "buddy" was assigned. As part of the company being acquired, IBM assigned an IBM "buddy" to you. This "buddy" was available to answer many of the questions we might have had about IBM. This was quite helpful and I encourage IBM to continue this practice. It really helps when you are going from a 1,000 person company to a company with hundreds of thousands of employees.
6. You will find you are in good company. IBM has done many acquisitions over the years. In fact, a good portion of the employee base has not been hired directly by IBM but have come through an acquisition. Because of this, IBM has gained some very experienced, ambitious, innovative and smart people that have helped IBM get to where they are today. Netezza has also done acquisitions so you can see very easily that IBM is becoming a giant technology oriented melting pot of some very smart people that were not hired directly by IBM.
7. Great new employee orientation and training. IBM was all ears when we went through the acquisition process at Ascential. We received excellent training and new employee orientation that guided us to a successful transition over to being an IBM employee. I also think IBM learned a great deal from Ascential employees including processes that were improved upon.
8. Executive training is impressive. I recall going to a series of executive training programs at the IBM training facility in New York, which is quite beautiful. These sessions were led by very engaging and smart trainers. What we learned has been invaluable and anyone that is either a manager or would like to be a manager will find this training very worthwhile. I particularly enjoyed meeting some very high profile IBM executives during these sessions including the IBM CFO.
9. No, it's not easy. It is always nerve racking coming into a new company during an acquisition. Questions like "will I have a job", "who will I be working for", "how do I handle expenses", "where will I be sitting" are always on peoples mind. My advice, don't worry, do your best to do whatever you can to help during the integration process. The small stuff will work itself out pretty quickly. In fact, you won't have to worry about these questions after your first day of being an official IBM employee. Oh, and don't resist Lotus Notes, it is the workhorse of IBM as far as communications is concerned. You won't be able function without it.
10. Take advantage of what IBM has to offer. IBM has tremendous assets and does a great deal for their employees. I'm sure Netezza does the same for their employees. Rest assure, you will be impressed with what IBM can do as a company to help you as an employee of a well respected business with a great deal of history.
11. This is a large and healthy company that is well run. Some of you may not want to be there long term. This happened to me. I enjoyed my experience with IBM, created great relationships, enjoyed the time I spent at IBM but in the end I decided that I wanted to go back to the startup world. I will always have incredible respect for IBM. To this day, I still feel that I'm part of the IBM family.
If IBM complete the acquisition of Netezza, we wish them all the best and remember, enjoy the ride.