Dickeson–Looking for Some Changes

Sounds a little crazy, doesn’t it? Think about it.

Suppose we suggested “presentation graphics.” You know, like Microsoft’s PowerPoint, to our tech-publishers to start them thinking. You can’t go to a trade meeting these days where a speaker doesn’t use a slide presentation to tell her/his story. (Some are better story tellers than others.)

Or maybe use a browser for database information that pops up whenever we turn on our workstation. On that home browser screen for our company, give us options for showing the information nuggets we want to see to tell us what’s happening right now. It’ll be a different view for the sales manager than it is for the CEO or the controller. Hyperlink it so we can drill down for more detail if we want. Tell us a story, please! Use cartoons, sound clips, photos, headlines, sidebars, whatever.

Keep in mind, dear computer specialists, that you are publishers first, foremost and always. You’re technicians only incidentally. If the data doesn’t lead to action, you’ve failed your prime obligation.

Let me tell you the stories I think I want to see on my personal browser home page. I want to know about the cash. Every day. What was our starting balance, total of checks written, collections deposited and our balance right now? What customers are past due on payments? What inventories are more than 60 days old?

I want flashing red, bold-faced numbers with noises to get my attention. If we’re burning cash balance, give me flames and a siren. Assume I’m distracted. Seize me warmly by the throat and shake me until knowledge sets in.

When my laser printer is out of paper, it speaks to me. “Please check your paper,” the nice lady says. Voice prompt. My phone answering machine says, “You have two messages.” It’s more difficult to ignore than a screen prompt. When someone hits “enter” to set a price for a job, I want a voice to say, “That account is 86 days past due. Please press ‘1’ if you wish to quote to this customer.” If company policy mandates no credit extension when a customer is in arrears, then a specific individual is accountable for credit policy deviation and must be prepared to defend the variance.

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