The following is an extract from "An Extra Measure of Satisfaction," Think, March 1972, pp. 46-47.
In the city where a lawyer named Lincoln practiced for nearly 30 years, an IBM salesman is involved with a large and prestigious customer -- a customer with the power to affect literally millions of lives.
The salesman is Jerry Rose, a tall, slender West Virginian who went to the University of Cincinnati and has been with the company for 10 of his 32 years. His customer is the State of Illinois and, most particularly, its Department of Finance, which controls a computer complex that already has drawn nationwide attention for its pioneering ventures in modern state management. The city, of course, is Springfield, the state capital -- a flat, Midwestern community of 90,000 people about 200 miles from Chicago.
"Some people think a state government must be a ponderous, slow-moving sort of customer to deal with," says Rose, leader of an account team that works out of the Springfield branch office. "That's just what it isn't. Illinois' political leaders are dealing with pressing issues. When legislators need answers, they need them right away."
One result is that Rose and the men and women who work with him are accustomed to long hours. "We could do so much more than we're doing," he says, "if we had more time. The opportunities are tremendous."
An added challenge for Rose is that the State of Illinois, while adding new computer applications, is also consolidating its various data processing activities into a single data center in Springfield.
Much of what Illinois does in the way of data processing, Rose explains, follows the guidelines set down in a remarkable document entitled IMPACT-'70s. (The acronym stands for Illinois Master Plan Applying Computer Technology in the 1970s.) "We like to think," he says, "that we are in a partnership with the state in helping to make this plan a reality."
Among the applications now being put into effect by the state:
Married and the father of a little girl, Rose is very much aware that some of the procedures which he is helping the state to institute may well affect his own life as well as the lives of others. The point was driven home graphically one day not long ago when Rose was in the audience as Illinois Governor Richard B. Ogilvie gave his State of the State address to both houses of the state legislature.
"It was a strange and exciting feeling," Rose recalls, "to hear him talk about programs that would benefit the state and its people, and to realize that I was right in the middle of helping to make some of those programs happen."