IBM in trouble deep in the heart of Texas

IBM is in hot water in Austin after the City’s electric utility started sending out bills which added extra zeros for no apparent reason.

What is alarming is that the dodgy bills have been sent out since October and no one at IBM seems to be able to stop them.

Some businesses have been told that they owe $300,000 when they should have been billed $3,000.

According to the Austin American-Statesman, more than 100,000 Austin energy customers have experienced the problem, which is a quarter of its business customers.

The city had written a $55 million cheque to IBM to develop and operate the bill collection system and the utility executives blame Biggish Blue for all the woes.

Apparently, the situation resembles a whack-a-mole contest. As soon has IBM fixes one problem another raises its head.

The project has got so silly that the situation has warranted a letter from IBM Vice President Frank Kern, who assured officials that the company can handle the problem and promised to meet its contractual obligations.

The fact that Austin Energy is sitting on $3.8 million in payments to IBM until the situation is fully resolved might have something to do with why Biggish Blue is bringing in the top level assurance.

Mega-back-end business service operations have been IBM’s bread and butter for the last few years, but it is finding itself increasingly in competition with Oracle, SAP and HP.  It needs failed projects like it needs a complete library of David Gray CDs – complete with a detailed synposis of what each single means.

IBM has one of its biggest innovation centres, or as we call them, research labs, in Austin.  It would be a pity if it could not come up with a creative way of fixing the problem.