June 8th, 2012

Tangent Mumble Something IT Mumble

Yesterday, I was reading news on the iPad and ran across a long article about IT. It talked about the skills gap. It talked about hiring managers having ridiculous lists of criteria and being unwilling to hire anyone who didn't match their list perfectly (sounds like we're coming out of a downturn, doesn't it? Shades of 1992-3). It talked about corporations not willing to do career development for IT people and how IT people are working crazy long hours already but have to add career development to that already full plate. Lather rinse, repeat. Nothing particularly amazing here.

Well, okay. Maybe something moderately interesting: a bunch of companies describing how they've downsized IT drastically (sometimes down to one or two people) by outsourcing to Amazon, Rackspace, etc. So that's new-ish; it used to be that only really massive corporations used computer services companies, and they _also_ had ginormous IT departments. It's like cloud providers are the fast food of IT services. Or at least casual dining.

Anyway. I mentioned this to R. today, and the next thing was a discussion of ADP, and then a further diversion to the SSA and how _are_ they going to implement that get-rid-of-checks initiative? Mostly, we were trying to map the rough outlines of this clearly much-much-much bigger computer/IT services space and trying to determine the amount of overlap with related services like payroll and benefits processing (viz. ADP is such a dominant player it will only be dislodged by a worse-is-better solution; who might devise such a solution?).

So then I went over to the SSA website to find out how that get-rid-of-checks thing is going to work. No, they are _not_ going to make you open a bank account (altho they are encouraging people to do so, pointing them at an Electronic Transfer Account with some legislated features like max cost and four free cash withdrawals). They are going to make you choose between direct deposit at a bank account and a bank debit card courtesy Comerica, "Debit Express". Comerica is one of the early interstate banks; its original base was in Detroit (they have naming rights on the ball park there) but they are now headquartered in Texas and have teamed up with Xerox to supply government services at the state and local level. I'm currently trying to figure out whether Comerica/ACS (a Xerox venture) is also responsible for implementing food stamps as debit cards under the Bush administration. And failing. This is what passed for national level coverage of that when it happened [ETA: wrapped up. The process seems to have started under the Clinton administration and state/local governments started electronic benefits transfers as early as the 1980s].