Though I missed out on the Gladys Knight concert last evening here in Anaheim, I'm told it was a rocking show and a good time was had by all.
Me, I chilled in the hotel crib and watched in amazement as the Chicago Bears made an unfathomable comeback to beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 24-23. Ouch.
This morning, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and headed over to the Hilton to listen in on how the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) is becoming a "paperless agency."
IBM and the SSA have an enduring partnership. As longtime Social Security Administration veteran Thomas Grzymski explained in the session, IBM has been working with the SSA since its founding in 1935.
From punch cards to the installation of its first IBM computer in 1956 (the IBM 705), since the first Social Security payments went out in 1940 Big Blue has helped the SSA keep up with the changing times.
In the 1980s, IBM worked with the SSA to spare some trees through the establishment of online processing of claims and, later, through its Paperless Program Service Center project, where more data was retained electronically and all incoming mail was scanned to enable more digital workflow.
This resulted in less friction and quickened response times. Or, in other words, your check's in the mail that much faster.
Most recently, IBM worked with the SSA to streamline the distribution of checks for its disability program. Called the "Electronic Disability Process" (or "eDibs", for short), the new system is built atop a plethora of IBM Software -- WebSphere Application Server, IBM DB2 Content Manager, IBM Records Manager -- the list goes on, but I won't.
When you consider that the SSA deals with hundreds of millions of transactions per year (you should've seen the picture of the massive rollaround mail carts Mr. Grzymski demonstrated -- it looked like a bumper mail bag car rally at the Post Office!), anything that can streamline the process means improved service to disabled claimants, including hastened mail time. It also helps minimize misplaced or lost case files ("Sure, my check's in the mail!")
To read more about the rollout of the SSA eDibs system, check out this story in "Network World."
Meanwhile, know that the check is, in fact, in the mail...but that the check started out as a bunch of extremely efficient bits and bytes moving through an IBM content management system.
This is one time where you can truly say with a straight face: Your tax dollars hard at work.