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IBM trims software group

Big Blue eliminates about 300 direct-sales jobs in an effort to shift its sales focus to software providers and medium-size businesses.

IBM will eliminate about 300 direct-sales jobs in its software group as part of an effort to rebalance the customer focus of its sales positions, the company said Thursday.

A significant portion of those 300 persons will be offered positions in IBM's telephone and Internet sales organization, said Tim Breuer, director of public relations for IBM's software group.

The shift from direct to other sales channels is intended to boost IBM's focus on independent software vendors (ISVs) and small and medium-size businesses, two important areas of potential growth for the company, Breuer said.

IBM employs about 38,000 people in its software group. Employees were notified on Wednesday of the action.

The cuts in direct-sales positions follow other recent personnel maneuverings within IBM.

In November, IBM laid off about 200 people in its software group in an effort to reduce costs; in September, the company cut 380 positions as part of a "skills rebalancing."

Big Blue said in December that it would reorganize its sales force in order to focus on its business partners, such as ISVs and distributors, and to boost the industry-specific expertise of its salespersons.

Other units within IBM have also seen cuts over the past year. In October, the company eliminated 720 positions in its services group, and in August, 600 employees in the semiconductor division were let go.