The Computer says….what?

When you really think about it, business is about trust. Oh I know we all use lawyers and contracts to prove that we don’t really trust one another, but most of us don’t actually like doing so, preferring to believe in our hearts that our business partners are as honourable and trustworthy as of course we are ourselves.

The most potent example of trust in a business context is the giving of credit. You can have clear terms and conditions and fearsome credit checking procedures but fundamentally giving credit is an act of faith and trust which is crucial to most successful business relationships.

However where computers are concerned it is slightly different. I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could thr….ah just remembered how light tablets are nowadays. Anyway as far as I am concerned every number that comes out of my computer has to be double and triple checked.

I have been forcibly reminded of why I am like this when recently examining the output of a product provided by that north east based marketing company that happens to have an accounting software arm. A significant number of invoices did not appear to have been properly included, and it was only due to some other checks and balances that I had put in place that I was able to spot it before it any reports were widely distributed.

Similarly with Excel, the accountant’s best friend. I can’t imagine life without it. However the more complex a spreadsheet is, the more unstable it becomes, and the greater the risk of errors creeping in.

When it comes to computerised accounting and reporting, whatever comes out is only as good as what goes in. The acronym GIGO (Garbage in, Garbage out) was created at the start of the computer age. Its more recent incarnation Garbage in, Gospel out seems to more accurately reflect the unthinking reliance so many people place on the figures produced by their PCs.

It is not just the output of computers that worries me. Having used a laptop as my main computer for 20 odd years I have developed a habit of making back-ups of back-ups just in case the original back-up itself was corrupt.

I do quite like the idea of cloud computing and would really like to fully utilise its perceived benefits. However like many others I suspect my innate distrust of computers has led to me not being able to embrace it as yet.

So there you have it. I am inherently an optimist (years of supporting Spurs does that to a person) who wants to believe the best of people and trust them. Computers on the other hand…..

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