Although the worldwide economic situation remains unsettled, we see some encouraging signs, IBM chairman John Akers told the annual meeting in New Orleans yesterday. He said first quarter shipments exceeded shipments for the same period of 1986, and we expect our product announcements and resource balancing measures to have an increasingly positive impact as 1987 proceeds. Hard competitive realities have quickened the pace of actions toward a transformation of this company, characterising it as unquestionably one of the most rapid in our history. It is a transformation not just to fend off the problems of the moment, but to change the shape of the company for the long term and build on its historic strength to ensure its competitiveness in a world that gets tougher and tougher each year. Since the beginning of last year about 14,000 IBM employees worldwide had changed jobs or locations as the company redeployed many of its personnel into the sales force. During the same period, Akers said, IBM reduced the number of people hired worldwide and decreased the number of managerial positions in the US by 1,500. By the end of this year, IBM also will have 7,000 fewer headquarters jobs worldwide than there were at the beginning of 1986. IBM’s worldwide work force has been reduced by 11,000 employees since last April to about 403,000 workers. Savings on spending in such areas as travel, meetings and outside consultants have reached nearly $1,000m since the end of 1984. IBM’s US programming work force will fall by nearly 6,000 over early 1985 to 26,000 by the end of the year, but the firm still invested $5,200m in 1986 in research development and engineering, up 11%.
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