Sometimes you just don’t need computers

Alastair Aitken 23 September 2013 0

Recently I received an email from a friend’s company; it had been sent in error by one of his recently-employed offspring. The excuse given for the error was, “it was sent by someone else who had been using my computer”, which is pretty much the non-pedagogical equivalent of, “my dog ate my homework.” It was not my business to enquire “who” actually sent the email, nor whether they were fully conversant with using the company’s email application. Perhaps I should have done.

Emails, thousands of ’em!

Fast-forward by a week and I received another email from the same email account, again sent in error, only this time I was not the only recipient: several hundred other email addresses had received the email, all of them current or previous customers of the company. The first complaint arrived hot on the heels of the original email and it had been sent as a “Reply To All”. They’ll be putting spammers out of a job at the rate they’re carrying on.

Such a mistake probably won’t mean my friend’s company losing many, if any, customers because the company excels at its core business and works hard to establish and maintain personal relationships with its clients.

Initially I thought back on the number of times I’ve thought that my friend should put in some form of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool to effectively manage sales leads, pre-sales, quotation processes and operational processes but I’ve come to realise that in this case it really isn’t necessary. When working in IT, it’s easy to overlook the fact that not everyone is as “into” technology as one’s immediate colleagues. Not every organisation is looking for, or needs, the latest and greatest computers, hardware and software.


My friend is no techno-Luddite, he loves new gadgets – he’ll have upgraded to iOS7 already – and applications as much as the next man. Recently his company was offered, and accepted, a trial installation of Microsoft Office 365. However the company already had licensed copies of desktop Microsoft Office, which all the staff were comfortable with using. Taking into account the on-going cost of the product and the re-training required, the return on investment was unlikely to be positive and the trial fell by the wayside.

Bob Cratchit

Distressing as it may seem to computer professionals, many organisations operate successfully with minimal IT infrastructure, investment and training. A different friend’s company is pretty much fully automated but when it comes to the company accounts, everything is written down in a large leather-bound book that looks as though it should sit on the desk of Bob Cratchit.


Training at my friend’s company is all pretty much “on the job” and on a needs-be basis. Only the bare-minimum of hardware and software gets bought and used. For him the approach works and he’s happy to accept that there will be occasional mishaps that may have been prevented. Although I suspect at least one employee will be getting a crash-course in basic email application usage.

Alastair Aitken (124 Posts)

As a contract developer and manager I’ve worked in a wide range of enterprises in a variety of countries where I’ve encountered everything from great work, awful work, bizarre work, all the way down to quasi-legal work. If you think that you recognise your own organisation within my articles then you’re undoubtedly wrong, where you work isn’t that unique.

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