Clicks lagging behind good old fashioned bricks

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 February, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 February, 2002, 12:00am

On the Internet you were supposed to be able to receive updated information in seconds. Just a few mouse clicks and you could change screen layouts and transmit new documents around the globe.

But all this hype doesn't apply to company Web sites which contain laughably outdated information.

Take Enron's description of itself on the company site.

'Enron's business is to create value and opportunity for your business,' it still claims despite shares being worth a few per cent of their value six months ago and employees being thrown out of work. Maybe they meant creating business opportunities for lawyers and bankruptcy experts.

With hindsight the site description contains a few telling phrases such as: 'It's difficult to define Enron in a sentence . . .'

Enron's businesses were certainly hard to define but most of us could now come up with a string of single word definitions - few of which are printable.

'It's difficult, too, to talk about Enron without using the word 'innovative'.' Innovative proves to be an apt euphemism for the firm's accounting policies but not much else.

And one line that must make Fortune magazine editors cringe: 'No wonder Fortune surveys have named Enron the most innovative company in America for six years in a row.'

Given that Enron is collapsing, you would have thought they'd shut the site down, but maybe it just goes to show they have a sense of humour too.

Allied Irish Bank (AIB) has also been in trouble this week with an alleged US$750 million fraud by one of its foreign exchange traders at American subsidiary Allfirst Financial.

AIB's Web site greets you with the unfortunate slogan, 'Your Life. Anything is Possible. Be with AIB'.

Sounds like the foreign-exchange trader John Rusnak, who is at the centre of the alleged fraud, took the slogan to heart.

'Anything is possible' when US$750 million of currency trading losses can be covered up. Plus the above photograph on AIB's Web site looked a little strange on Thursday morning when the whereabouts of the alleged rogue trader were unknown.

Was the lady behind the binoculars scouring the Emerald Isle's coastline for the whereabouts of Mr Rusnak? Or the US$750 million?

No mention was made of the alleged fraud on the home page, which must have been trying to leave visitors with the impression of it being just a regular day for the bank.

At the Network of the World (NOW), owned by Pacific Century CyberWorks, it seems the site also needs updating.

The converged television and Internet channel has been a drain on CyberWorks and a renegotiated deal with a content provider announced in January scaled back development plans.

Yet the site still describes itself as 'the flagship offering from Pacific Century CyberWorks'.

NOW can be seen more as a Titanic than a flagship. And when an Internet firm like NOW can't keep its Web site accurate and up to date it doesn't give you much hope for the others.

In a world of 'clicks and bricks' business models it goes to show that sometimes the clicks lag the bricks by a long way.

Red-card bluff: Ever got so bored at a work meeting that you wanted to pull out a yellow card and interrupt the speaker with the words, 'Cut the crap'.

Then the BBC is the place. Its director-general Greg Dyke has encouraged staff to do just that at meetings where creativity is being stifled, according to British newspaper reports.

Mr Dyke said: 'I would ask that people in every team in the BBC discuss how we make this place better, how we make it exciting, how do we ensure that the cynics and moaners in the organisation are marginalised.

'In short, how do we cut the crap and make it happen? I've had a yellow card printed which I plan to bring out at every meeting when someone is trying to stop a good idea. We'll send one to anyone who wants one.'

BBC sources suggested to The Times that when a person received two yellow cards they would be asked to leave a meeting. Though nobody suggested the outcome if someone blasted Mr Dyke with the new mantra and waved the yellow card in front of his nose. BBC managers didn't need that spelled out to them - presumably Mr Dyke would give the employee a red card.

David Evans is on holiday

Graphic: rag09gbz