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Supply chain approach to labor

IBM's Integrated Supply Chain organization has developed an ecosystem to efficiently manage employee and supplier talent and knowledge to better service clients

As IBM Corp. moves from an asset-based company to a labor-based company, it is actively pursuing how to apply supply chain principles in a labor-based business.

"A majority of the assets we offer our customers are based on the experience and intelligence of our labor force," says Tim Carroll, vice president operations with IBM's Integrated Supply Chain group.

"When a contract ends, we used to let go the people who fulfilled the contract. At the same time, we might be hiring talent to fulfill a new contract. We did not have a connection to link those talent pools. Now, prior to hiring new people, we go into a global database to see if needed skills are available or about to become available anywhere in the world."

Even though the database is in the pilot stage, when a new venture comes in, the person developing the contract can look in the database for basic skill sets. Elements in the database include names of individuals, if they are available or when they will be, skills, education, work experience, language fluency, and other contributions within IBM and externally. With a simple click, the database shows all employees available. In most cases, these employees do not have to be relocated.

In the past year, the database — the talent ecosystem — has reduced the cost of IBM's services business by more than $1 billion. Increased visibility into resource deployment has resulted in a 3% to 5% improvement in utilization.

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