IBM launches workforce consulting services

IBM Wednesday launched a new consulting service designed to help businesses plan for critical changes in their workforces as more of their most highly skilled baby boomer workers retire — taking their knowledge with them.

Using advanced analytical software tools to review a company’s workforce, IBM’s new services initiative will offer insights to help companies cope with the knowledge drain, according to Edward Vitalos, an associate partner with IBM’s Business Consulting Services Human Capital Group. The problem, he said, is that as critical employees of the baby boom generation retire, companies don’t usually have other skilled workers who can seamlessly fill the jobs.

“This is an opportunity to look at options other than doing nothing,” Vitalos said.

Under the program, IBM will take client human resources data and analyze it for expected attrition, assess critical job categories and other factors and then provide a workforce strategy for customers, he said. The cost of a typical analysis would be under US$100,000. IBM said it would take about a month to develop a strategy with specific recommendations and options.

IBM is now conducting such an analysis within one of its own business organizations, Vitalos said, but he declined to identify the unit.

According to IBM, workers over age 45 account for the largest segment of the workforce in industrialized nations, with the number of workers who will be over age 55 in the next decade expected to double — taking their experience with them upon retirement.

IBM said it plans to use consultants, cultural anthropologists, researchers and social scientists to work on the analyses for clients. Those analyses will be done using software tools including Maturing Workforce Diagnostics, Component Business Modeling, Learning Alignment and Learning Effectiveness Measurement, Performance Measurement Analytics, Talent Management and Succession and Workforce Evolution Modeling.

IBM is also including services aimed at helping employers make it easier for older workers to continue to do their jobs, despite vision, cognitive or physical limitations.

John Challenger, president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., an employment consulting firm in Chicago, said analysis of baby boomer workers could be a useful tool for businesses.

“We’re into an era of technology that is really looking at human resources and what that truly is,” Challenger said. “There are more and more companies today that are trying to map out the skill sets of their workforce to understand who they have and what they need — getting a complete look at not just who each person is, but to try to understand the know-how [the] organization has. What that would tell you is where you need to go.

“I think that’s an interesting extension,” he said of IBM’s baby boomer analysis.

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