The IT industry relies upon constant development, with innovative features that make new machines indispensible. Most of us have been through Windows 98, 2000, ME, XP and Vista (unfortunately), and now we are on Windows 7. However, we mainly use our laptops to word process, email and browse the web, functions all perfectly possible almost two decades ago on Windows 95. Sure we appreciate new functions but for the average user, with the possible exception of online TV, our usage hasn't changed significantly. I don't wish to pick on Microsoft — I'm too scared of its legal team — but
it is an example of a pattern that is repeated across just about everything from cars to smartphones.
I'm not suggesting for a moment that we all revert to Windows 95, mobiles the size of Victorian masonry and British Leyland cars. However, I have just come out of a three-hour meeting that would have lasted three minutes if it hadn't been for technology. The tedious subject was updating the corporate mission statement and I'm furious because it was all so avoidable.
First of all we had to set up video conferencing with various pointless departments in far-flung places including Stoke-on-Trent and Mannheim. This took time, mainly because a certain board member was too stubborn to call an IT tech before he had a chance to fiddle with every setting. The only reason we had no audio was because the amplifier was set to the wrong input, something I pointed out at the start. Alas a 60-something incompetent technophile changed every possible option on the computer hosting the meeting, including the screensaver and desktop background. He finally gave up and called a tech, who spent the next 20 minutes reversing all the changes while I clicked the amp to the PC audio input.
After 45 minutes we could see and hear our distant colleagues — though communication was still tricky thanks to the strongest Birmingham accent I have ever heard, and the fact that we seem to employ the only non-English speaker in the whole of Scandinavia. Next came the dreaded PowerPoint presentation with 'emotive' corporate images to stimulate our creative juices: slick men in suits looking fervent, beautiful women in square glasses and long skirts, and groups of happy, smiley people to represent staff and customers. No one seemed to spot the irony that actually the men in the room were fat and grumpy, the women were more famine resistant than femme fatale, and the only 'employee', the tech, was so frustrated that a smile was off the cards.
The meeting dragged on and on and the end result was a prolix paragraph of corporate-speak that was infinitely worse than our old mission statement. If I ever make it beyond a junior board position, which will require three deaths (they'll never retire) and a ban on nepotism, I will insist on an alternative system. This will involve a pub, a pen, some paper and beer.
Our entrepreneurial correspondent travels the world in search of business, soft beds and good breakfasts.
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