Former IBM New Zealand head Gowan Pickering says due to the growth of the ICMS division and the local operation, he could no longer cover the responsibilities of running both, resulting in Australian Ken Symington being appointed as general manager of IBM New Zealand and Pickering being made general manager ICMS.
Pickering, who will remain in Wellington, says he recommended the management change to IBM corporate.
His brief is now to develop and support ICMS (integrated customer management system) division which develops and distributes IBM’s customer billing system aimed at telecommunications companies. ICMS, which is part of IBM corporate, has made about 25 sales worldwide, with the latest going to a Denver-based company. Pickering denies that the change was to give IBM Australia more control of the New Zealand operation.
“Control is not an issue,” he says. “We have 370 people developing and supporting ICMS and it’s growing significantly. As the telecommunications industry becomes deregulated, they’re [telcos] are looking for processes and systems that allow them to compete and differentiate. Customer care and billing is key area for that.”
Symington, who joined IBM Australia in 1979, was last year based in Tokyo as general manager of small and medium business services Asia-Pacific.
He admits that given New Zealand’s economic situation, it is a difficult time, but says this applies to industry in general, and not the IT industry in particular.
This year, for the first time, IBM New Zealand did not publish its local financial results, with Pickering describing them in January as “a flat year”.
For the financial year to December 31, 1996, IBM reported revenue of $282 and a loss of $9 million. There has been speculation the loss was even larger last year, possible up to $20m
Pickering says, “Many companies are facing the same challenges as we are. It’s a flat market and the recent Statistics New Zealand figures on the IT market confirm that. However, IBM has a full range of offerings and products, and we have a very strong services organisation in New Zealand.”
Earlier this year IBM won a deal worth tens of millions of dollars to supply the New Zealand Dairy Board with systems and a global network connecting 120 offices in 32 countries. Revenue from this contract and another with Telecom New Zealand won’t go into the FY97 results.