When property developer and TV presenter Sarah Beeny ran out of people to set up her single friends with on dates, she turned to technology for the answer. The result was her innovative dating website mysinglefriend.com, a site designed to be used by the friends of single people, rather than the single people themselves, because she knew that none of her friends would voluntarily sign up to a dating agency.
“To be successful, technology has to mimic real life,” says Beeny. “That’s the key to mysinglefriend.com. In real life, you don’t go out on your own on a Friday night to find someone else hanging around on their own. You go to a bar and if you spot someone you think is hot, your friend goes up to him and asks him if he’s single and then sells you.”
“I embrace technology where it helps us live our lives better and makes things easier,” she continues. “I have a laptop, which is great because I can take it around the house with me and I do a lot of work on trains.” “On a more boring note, my world changed when I started using Sage accounting software. It’s just amazing how you can cross reference and print out reports for any query at the touch of a button.”
Having been self-employed for most of her adult life, Beeny has had to adapt to new technology in her own time, unlike most of us. She says: “My theory is that you learn about technological developments in the office. If you are paid to spend a certain number of hours sitting there, there are always times when there is nothing to do – or even if you do have tasks, you don’t want to do them – so you take a look at a new website, or do some bored meandering on your computer.”
But working from home does mean Beeny has the latest technology installed there, including a wireless printer and wireless internet connection. “I use technology in my personal life, too, but I make sure I limit it. I used to be on the computer all the time; have it on in the corner and constantly check it. Now I try to have a balance between reading an e-mail as it comes in and replying immediately and leaving it for two weeks and having a thousand to work through.”
“Technology should be a Brucie Bonus, not replace human interaction. I like to hear people’s voices but not see their faces. After all, I’m often naked or on the loo when I’m on the phone!” But online shopping does entice her and her husband, Graham, who, being “even more computer illiterate”, used to ring her to ask how to send an e-mail. “I absolutely love browsing for children’s books on Amazon for our two sons,” she says. “The way it recommends books is great.”
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