IBM not so Smart at home

In light of the lawsuit by U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, IBM Corp. should have perhaps started in-house first with its vision to implement processes and controls for better visibility and management in its quest to build a Smarter Planet.
According to a lawsuit by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, IBM Corp. has been charged with doling out hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to Chinese and South Korean officials. The deeds are said to total US$207,000 in gifts, travel and entertainment in recent years that were given out, in some cases, through “slush funds” created at travel agencies.

The SEC, in documents filed last week, stated the Armonk, New York-based software vendor lacked internal controls that could have prevented the bribing from happening. IBM has agreed to pay US$10 million to settle the lawsuit.

What’s unfortunate is that IBM is always preaching visibility and management through established process as part of its Smarter Planet vision. The company believes that with the right technology, such as intelligent devices and data analytics, coupled with good process design and implementation, the world will function more intelligently and efficiently.

Yet, in light of the SEC lawsuit, the company is found to have been lacking in internal controls that would have allowed them just that insight and management of certain embarrassing events.

This one of course boils down to bad employee behaviour. But process is still about setting guidelines for acceptable conduct in the business and ensuring that all staff is aware and trained on it.

I suppose it’s true what they say that before you can change the whole world, you must first focus efforts on the home front.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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