Last Tuesday, IBM stunned the midrange community when it quietly announced that Mike Borman is leaving his post as General Manager of the iSeries Division. In addition, the company announced a new iSeries GM and several other executive reappointments. While the news may raise concerns among IBM's customers and Business Partners, an examination of the announcement reveals that the company remains as committed to the iSeries this year as it was last year.
According to the announcement, Borman is moving to IBM's Software Group to become that organization's Vice President of Worldwide Sales. Replacing him at the helm of the iSeries Division is Mark Shearer, who is currently Vice President in charge of Marketing and Strategy for the systems segment of IBM's Systems and Technology Group. In other moves, IBM appointed Maureen McGuire, an IBM Global Services executive, to take over Shearer's position. The company also asked Emilie McCabe to become Vice President of Systems Sales. These and other executive changes will put several new faces in the management team that runs the Systems and Technology Group.
While it may come as a shock that Borman is leaving the iSeries Division after just six months, it is not because of any displeasure over his performance. Indeed, according to my IBM sources, Borman and his team did an excellent job of reviving iSeries sales during the second half of 2004. As such, Borman's move is more of an indication that IBM has an urgent need for his talents at Software Group. As IBM watchers know, the Software Group post to which Borman is moving opened up suddenly last November when John Swainson left it to become the CEO of Computer Associates. Swainson's unexpected departure left IBM without one of its top sales executives, and Borman has the credentials to take over the position. As the former CEO of Blue Martini, Borman knows how to sell software. This was undoubtedly part of IBM's decision to transfer him.
While some people may worry that the iSeries Division is losing an asset with the departure of Borman, I am not among them. That is because the man who is replacing him is one of the most capable executives in IBM's Systems and Technology Group. Mark Shearer may not be as widely known among iSeries customers and Business Partners as Borman was, but he has played a critical role in IBM's revival as a server vendor. Several years ago, Shearer helped to unite the company's server brands under a single marketing strategy. He was also instrumental in turning around flagging mainframe sales, rolling out the highly successful BladeCenter product line, and establishing IBM as a leading vendor of Linux servers.
As these achievements indicate, Shearer is an executive who has a knack for formulating winning strategies and getting IBM's senior executives to support them. While he has not worked as closely with IBM's Business Partners as Borman has, he possesses an astute understanding of distribution channels and the server market as a whole. He has also played a critical role in the development of the iSeries and pSeries product lines over the last four years. This makes him a natural to take over as iSeries GM. I have had many conversations with Mark and have found him to have a keen appreciation for the strategic role of the iSeries. As such, I expect he will bring innovative thinking to his new position that could boost the server's fortunes. Just as importantly, he could be quite successful in gaining support for his ideas from IBM's senior executives.
In short, I expect that Shearer will benefit the iSeries community just as much as Borman did. His appointment indicates that IBM is still ready to put its brightest minds to work on its midrange systems. That is good news for iSeries customers and Partners. I expect that once those customers and Partners get to know Mark, they will feel as good about him as I already do.