Radical reshape planned for IBM

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NEW YORK - International Business Machines' global sales force is to undergo its most radical reorganisation in decades, abandoning product and geographical responsibilities to specialise in groups focused on industries, writes Larry Black.

IBM's chief executive, Louis Gerstner, said yesterday the computer giant would reassign its 30,000 marketing specialists to 13 new industry groups, providing clients in finance, health, travel, insurance, petroleum and other fields with information- processing services tailored to their businesses.

The reorganisation reflects the change in IBM's business in recent years, as computer manufacturing has become a lower-margin operation while customer consulting and service have boomed.

The biggest impact will probably be felt outside the United States, where the chief executives of local subsidiaries will almost certainly see their power diminished.

Sir Anthony Cleaver, chairman of IBM UK, is to retire on 19 May and will be replaced by Nick Temple, chief executive. Mr Temple will also be head of IBM's core financial systems business throughout Europe. Mr Temple will be succeeded by Javaid Aziz, general manager, marketing.