The value of things and that time we turned Sherlock Holmes

Posted: Friday, 24 May 2019 @ 16:19

By Tim Shand, Business Development Manager at Rivers Leasing

Maybe because (in broad terms) we are superbly privileged in the UK, we forget the true underlying value of some of the things we have. However, in quiet contemplation lately, we were reminded why ‘things’ should not be taken for granted.

Many years ago, when a module in my degree course was called quantitative studies, a project task was set to come up with a theory and then prove it (or otherwise) by the collection of statistical data. The hypothesis was that violent crime increased with temperature. It sounds like a simple task in today’s terms, but 36 years ago the availability of data was very different.

Crime investigation- punches vs punched tape

Firstly, the crime figures. A letter was sent to the local city police HQ, a reply was received, a meeting was set up, a bus ticket bought. Then some face-to-face negotiation with the police and a discussion about what crimes should be included (were we interested in ‘Furious Driving’). Once this was decided, someone in the depths of their offices produced some code on punched tape to interrogate the massive computer, which then produced reams of lined and perforated paper containing the crime data.

The next task was to get information on the weather. The local met office was not particularly helpful but the Met Officer at the regional airport was keen to get involved. A bus ride this time ending up in a small office at the bottom of the control tower. Most of the records were handwritten in a large book and the data had to be manually extracted and copied, again, by hand.

The next task was relatively straightforward - the analysis. Indeed there did appear to be a fairly strong correlation between the factors.  Today however, this could all have been done from the comfort of a desk and PC (although it might not have allowed me to appease my inner Sherlock quite as well).

The power of thank you

The other example happened this week, while trying to change an upcoming flight with a foreign airline. The UK customer service number with a Leeds code was dialled. It was answered seamlessly 3500 miles away. The team member was very helpful and as we spoke an email appeared with amended flight itinerary and e-ticket. Incredibly slick but what was noticeable was the reaction of the team member when thanked profusely for sorting it out. It appeared that the praise had made his day.

Lessons learned

Maybe the lesson from the first example is to value the immediate access to a wealth of resource that we now have at our fingertips. Certainly in our work at Rivers Leasing we understand that fast decision making processes can be extremely important to individuals and businesses seeking asset finance. 

From the second example, perhaps we can deduce that even when technology is driving forwards and end results can be achieved more easily, we should still remember the hard work that goes on behind the scene, and the value that human interaction can bring to the experience.

For all the technology at our disposal in the world of finance, at Rivers Leasing we never lose sight of the fact that there is a human story behind every transaction, and that in itself is an important part of the picture.

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