A decision made in Australia that IBM New Zealand should not, for the first time, announce its local results ranks as one of the worst public relations blunders for many a year.
It's been widely thought for some time that IBM locally had a bad fiscal 1997. However, IBM's managing director Gowan Pickering has described it merely as a flat year.
The official reason for not publicly announcing the results is the ANZ model adopted by IBM, a matrix reporting model where New Zealand staff report into Australia and other centres.
But as a legal entity, the local subsidiary will eventually have to report its results to the Companies Office.
In the meantime, the decision leaves IBM wide open to speculation about its performance.
Market researcher IDC has received no response to its request for information. "Everyone's clamming up," says IDC manager Graham Penn, who's not prepared to publicly speculate.
IBM took some big hits in 1997. It dropped out of the retail PC market and, anecdotally, has not performed well in the corporate market where it is thought to have fallen some distance behind market leader Compaq, Hewlett-Packard and Digital.
All will be revealed in time, when the figures are lodged with the Companies Office. But as experience shows, many organisations manage to stave off doing that for more than a year, tending to relegate such figures (they hope) to the dustbin of history.
It's not as if, under the ANZ arrangement, IBM New Zealand doesn't know its numbers. After all, IBM Australia has announced its figures, so it can unscramble eggs.