The TSB Trust Company was the entrepreneurial insurance subsidiary of the TSB Group. It was formed in 1967, originally to sell Unit Trust, and then in the 1970s recruited a dedicated sales force to sell unit linked life insurance and single premium bonds to the customers of the TSB Bank. With the loyal customer base and the close working relationship with the bank branch managers, business really took off. By the 1980s the Trust Company was growing at 25% per annum. Later it expanded into Pensions and General Insurance products and eventually it was generating more profits than the TSB Bank.
The first PC was introduced by the IT Operations Department in the early 1980s. These were CMP machines but with the launch of the IBM PC in circa 1984 the Company soon standardised on these machines supported by the Smart Office integrated software suite. By the end of the eighties the company had over 1,000 PC. Because of the fast growth of the Trust Company there were constant reorganisation and departmental moves. To facilitate these changes the IT Department installed a Banyan local area network with a fibre optic backbone network connecting the numerous buildings. The Banyan software came with electronic mail and before long many of the PCs were linked together.
By the early 1990s many of the PC users were now quite confident with computers and were becoming frustrated with the lack of integration and the basic nature of the DOS software. Many of them had acquired the new MS Windows operating system and applications. Under my direction a project team was created to develop the next generation of office automation system that would not only address personal productivity but also departmental and organisational efficiency and a effectiveness.
We conducted surveys and monitored how people used the technology to carry out every day tasks. We also reviewed the industry offerings but were very disappointed with most so-called office automation systems During these activities we came across a paper What Makes a Desktop Different written by David E. Liddle, Chairman of Metaphor Computer Systems, that greatly influenced what we proposed. The paper described a Desktop Architecture for PC software (see right) and reviewed how closely the then current offerings matched that architecture. Whilst Microsoft Windows had the advantage of attracting much of the new applications development and was compatible with the standard 386 PC computer that were then being purchased, it only provided some of the layers in the architecture.
The project decided to standardised on HP NewWave desktop software running
over Microsoft Windows. NewWave is an object oriented system consisting
of 3 main elements:
Follow the link to read more about New Wave.The image above shows my rather crowded New Wave desktop. Most of the icons around the edge are applications. There is a folder open (dark blue) with 2 data objects on view. One of these icon is also replicated on the desktop - but the data only exists once. New Wave calls these shared objects. This feature can be used to give easy desktop access to frequently used data or used to store a data object in two or more categories. The large open window is AOL Press which is being used to create the page you are now viewing. Oh, the Windows Program Manager has been reduced to an icon and is hidden behind the New Wave desktop - the best place for it! Click on the image to see a higher resolution image.
We selected Ami Pro as a word processor because it could run as a native NewWave application, but it was also a fast, powerful and easy to use DTP package. Also selected were the Dexotek search tool a and Diary system, Jet Form forms package, Freelance Graphics and Excel spreadsheet. For e-mail, HP's Open Mail was closely integrated with NewWave but we needed to explore how to bridge across to the Banyan mail system. These software packages gave us a strong foundation but we decided we needed more if our project was to provide departmental and organisational benefits.
What was needed was value added applications that automated common company applications and processes. We teamed up with the Corporate Systems department to identify and develop these applications. Corporate Systems were responsible for IT systems for the Personnel and Premises departments and they had processes that involved most of the rest of the company. For example, recruitment, library, stationary requisitions, post, repairs.
Systems departments would work jointly with ourselves provide many of the services (shown green in the diagram on the right) to their own users, for example Needs Analysis.
We also teamed up with IT Operations for on-going support and with IT Training for user training. The company had recently entered an era of having cost centres and inter-departmental charging. All this development and operational support had to be costed and some funded on an investment basis.
|The final building block was to devise a marketing programme
that would entice users to purchase the new office system. We decided to
segment the user community and to create a number of "desks". Each desk was
aimed at different segment, came with a fixed "starter package" of software
(which could be added to), was delivered, installed on the users desk and
was supported by training and help lines.
This was in contrast to the current situation where users purchased software from an approved list, installed their own software and made their own training arrangement.
The total package provided all the components of the TSB Trust Company Extended Desktop Architecture as shown above.
We installed the office system on our own departmental machines to act as a test system and also to provide a show-case. Unfortunately, before we could find any purchasers of the system, the TSB Trust Company was dissolved and the various departments merged with the TSB Bank, often in other UK locations. On leaving the TSB I decided to purchase my own copy of NewWave and it is still running to-day. To-date I have created in excess of 10,000 objects and I estimate that the system saves me at least 1 hour each day.
In 1995, HP stopped developing and supporting NewWave. Their argument was that Windows 95 now provided the same functionality. However, by using the above framework, this decision is hard to explain. In fact due to various patents, Microsoft would be hard put to actually provide the same functionality. There was to be a version of Windows 95 with an object manager, called Cairo, but this seems to have been abandon in favour of fully integrating MS Explorer into the next version of MS Windows.
To read more about New Wave follow the link.
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