FINGERTIPS page 44
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When clients call him at home, 'LT:
Mr. Fishman feels like he's sitting Ff
at his office desk.
"No matter where I'm at, I'm
on the cutting edge," said the Mil-
ford resident. "This is critical for
my business because clients do
call me at home, in the evening
and on weekends. And when
someone from California makes
an inquiry at 7 p.m., I want to
have everything at my fingertips
so I can provide them with on-the-
spot information. I need that edge
to compete and I'm glad I have it"
The portable power of the lap-
top is also a blessing for Mrs.
Robinson, senior consultant and
project manager at Childs Con-
sulting Associates Inc. in South-
field. She carries her work around
with her on a diskette, operating
out of an office, her home, or some-
where on her far-flung travels.
Mrs. Robinson, whose work en-
tails customizing computer pro-
grams and providing technical
support, totes a three-pound lap-
top whenever she works with a
client here, in Florida, Great
Britain or South America.
"I like to travel light, but when
I'm developing software docu-
mentation, accuracy is critical and
I take notes regarding the client's
requirements directly on the com-
puter. I seldom do any handwrit-
ten note-taking. The fact is, I'm
looking forward to when I can af-
ford a voice-activated laptop. Then
the computer will do the complete
note-taking process and I can dis-
cuss specific areas with my client
in detail. That should save a lot of
time and I should be able to pro-
vide more services," she said.
Even with these advantages,
Mrs. Robinson, 54, sees a down-
side to working exclusively via cy-
"I can work on projects by my-
self simply using a fax and a com-
puter and never make contact
with another human being. But I
think personal contact is impor-
tant. I believe I do a better job by
talking to my peers — face to face
— getting their suggestions and
"On the other hand, there's al-
ways the personal convenience.
For instance, my son had some
minor surgery and I took work
home on a diskette so that I didn't
have to commute from office to
home to hospital. I made life eas-
ier for myself during his stay at
the hospital and at the same time
accomplished some work. You
can't beat that combination."
Laurence Cutler, president of
Omni Information, a Southfield
consulting firm, said computers
in general have changed the
lifestyles of many of his clients.
"Most businesses are flexing
their muscles with computers and
no longer using them as high-tech
typewriters," Mr. Cutler ex-
plained. "They usually use com-
puters for word processing and
data entry, which can easily be
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Systems analyst Laurence Cutler
ported anywhere to another com-
puter. No one has to stay in any
one place to get work done.
"Another benefit is that a busi-
ness can get more work accom-
plished with less people doing the
work as the software programs
and the computer users become
But the convenience of the
home computer or laptop can lead
to exhaustion, too. It's easy to grab
a diskette on the way out of the of-
fice, arrive home and work into
the wee hours.
Howard Kloc, president of
Northpointe Software in Berkley,
limits the time he works at home
because, no matter how efficient
the time spent, it still takes him
away from his family.
"I think using your computer
at home for your business works
if you're a very disciplined person
and know when to stop," said Mr.
Kloc, whose firm produces visual
database programs for business-
es that catalog, archive and dis-
"On the other hand, it's been
a real boon for our boys, who are
10 and 12. I've taught them to use
the Internet and they're very com-
fortable exploring the on-line pro-
grams. Browsing the Web is
second nature to them."
Mr. Kloc also believes that com-
puters have reduced much un-
productive time for many people.
"Instead of commuting for two
hours daily, a person on our sales
staff can stay here in Berkley or
in California using our database
and work on orders using the corn-
puter, the fax and the phone."
Working outside the office
seems to be one of the greater ad-
vantages of the laptop. Mr. Cut-
ler said some companies have
employees stay home one day a
week and work, freeing up not
only office space but also equip-
ment needs, making it less cost-
ly to operate a business.
Improvements in telecommu-
nications offer even more poten-
tial because they can break down
the isolation of the office or home.
People are able to see and speak
with each other, sharing ideas
and techniques and learning
from collaborated efforts. It's like-
ly to be far more common that a
team can work at a project and
still be located in three different
cities rather than at one office. ❑