At Saatchi computers used to mean monochrome screens and complex key codes, but now they wouldn't swap their Windows for two packs of Daz and Danny Baker thrown in. David Tebbutt reports on the coming of "a godsend"
The advent of Windows has transformed computer use at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising. Where users had previously put up with slow, character-based applications, suddenly their work became faster, more productive and more interesting.
Instead of working at monochrome screens displaying limited information, they now have screens which are not only colour, but display information in graphic form. Bold type appears as such and icons -- small illustrations -- can be activated to achieve results such as printing, writing information to disk or starting a new application.
Saatchi was very fortunate because, when it decided to move from its old computer system in 1989, personal computers had become very powerful, and sophisticated applications were becoming available.
The old mini-computer with a terminal for each user was replaced by a network of personal computers, each running the Windows graphic user interface. Instead of carefully typing complex instructions to work the computer, users simply had to move a pointer on the screen and click a button on the mouse.
Roger Bick, Saatchi's director of information technology, decided that the company would be best served by a standard set of application packages. This makes life easier for users, who can move easily from machine to machine, while training and user support are also more practical.
Before buying the first personal computers, Bick and his team evaluated all the main Windows word processing and spreadsheet applications. At that time, Microsoft was clearly ahead; Word was selected for word processing and Excel for spreadsheet work.
Later, the company also standardised on PowerPoint for preparation of presentations. It is now conducting trials with Microsoft Mail for electronic mail. One advantage of these particular choices is that all four products are now available for the price of two in Microsoft's Office package.
As time has gone by, other software publishers have leapfrogged Microsoft in the functions their products offer -- only for Microsoft to turn the tables once again. That's why Bick cautions against changing packages whenever a different company gets an edge. It's impractical, expensive and, in any case, most users don't need all the functions of the packages they already have.
Each of the Windows applications can be accessed instantly with a click of the mouse button. This is ideal for busy people who need to move quickly from one application to another in response to telephone calls or internal requirements such as the need for new information. …