It was once axiomatic that you couldn't get fired for buying IBM, although you could extend that security blanket to include the likes of Microsoft, Cisco, and Oracle.

Michael Hickins, Contributor

March 19, 2009

2 Min Read

It was once axiomatic that you couldn't get fired for buying IBM, although you could extend that security blanket to include the likes of Microsoft, Cisco, and Oracle.But this isn't the case anymore, and it's generating "a lot of angst in the industry," according to a vendor who talked to me about this under cloak of anonymity because "I have to work with these guys."

Indeed, no matter what vendor you've picked, your career prospects could be hanging by a thread.

This phenomenon is being driven by the rapidly increasing pace of consolidation. In the financial services industry, for instance, Merrill Lynch might have been an Oracle shop while Bank of America is using DB2. As expected, top IT managers will have argued the merits of the technology they've already picked.

But "behind all the technical arguments, they're really fighting about their jobs," the vendor told me.

Which makes a lot of sense. One person's career gets put on the fast track, while the other's gets thrown into a cul-de-sac. The loser should be looking for an exit before the migration is finished.

Gartner just published a list of the top seven CEO concerns for 2009, and restructuring topped the list.

As the restructuring plan unfolds, CIOs must be prepared to clear the table of current plans and start again, deliver significant cost reduction, deliver significant head-count reduction, cancel some major projects no longer aligned with survival, and ensure that all outsourcing partners are viable.

Maybe the best illustration of this was in Mon Oncle d'Amerique, Alain Resnais' disturbing 1980 movie starring Gerard Depardieu as a factory manager fighting for his job after a consolidation. And you won't want to miss the surreal scene in which Depardieu and his counterpart wrestle on top of their desks while wearing rat costumes.

It's something I'm afraid a lot of us can increasingly relate to.

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