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It's up to IT to make end-user computing easy

It’s part of IT’s job to deal with end users who aren’t tech-savvy. The latest research says it may be a bigger part of the job than most people realize.

About two-thirds of people aged 16 to 65 have poor or worse computing skills, according to a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). As reported by the Nielsen Norman Group, this data means that most people can’t analyze or evaluate information from disparate sources, or even do things like search for a specific email or document.

Usability has always been crucial in development, but as IT begins to focus more on the overall concept of end-user computing, admins must also start paying attention.

By its very nature, end-user computing — the practice of providing users the applications and data they need to do their jobs from anywhere on any device — is complex. Modern workers typically rely on some combination of Windows desktops and applications, virtual desktops and applications, software as a service, web apps and mobile apps, plus data stored on their devices and in various cloud services. If a person can’t even find out when colleagues are available and successfully schedule a meeting — and nearly 95% can’t, OECD says — how can they be expected to work productively across so many distributed systems?

It’s up to IT to make it easy. New workspace products, such as Citrix Cloud and VMware Workspace One, aim to help. They provide portals where users can log in with one username and one password and have secure access to all their apps and data. They don’t eliminate complexity, however. They merely shift it from end users to IT. Admins will need to approach traditional tasks such as endpoint security, application delivery, networking and identity management in a new, holistic way to make the promise of workspaces a reality.

End users may not have the most advanced computing skills, but admins will need to develop more than ever as end-user computing evolves.

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There are many facets to this that need to be discussed. At one company I worked for we had 2 dedicated technical trainers that we could tap as resources for our project implementations. Even when I would double my estimated training time, and then double it again, it seemed like the trainers could always use more time. The bottom line was that 2 people wasn’t enough to train everyone in the company. My current employer doesn’t have any, and very little focus on training at all. Bottom line, you can’t just throw on end user training to IT admins or helpdesk staff, not at least without training them to be trainers and making sure staffing levels are adjusted. Not to get on a soap box, but what happened to on the job training? I see so many companies try to hire the perfect candidate based on skills that they are essentially looking for a needle in a haystack. I remember a helpdesk manager who would hire based off personality. He had no doubts he could teach someone the technical skills required, but teaching personality is next to impossible. Expecting people to just know how to use your custom implementation of various tools needs to be addressed, and passing the buck from the department managers to IT doesn’t solve the problem. Companies need to start training employees again, and actually devoting resources to it. Work experience should show that you have the ability to learn new things and adapt, not that you have done the exact same job at another company. If you can consistently find people who have done the same thing at other companies, then you might want to look at what separates you from your competitors, because it’s definitely not innovation. My point is that the reason we have 2/3rds of the workforce who lack the skills to do their job is the fault of companies not willing to invest in their people. It has nothing to do with IT, and putting the responsibility on IT won’t change it as we’re not teachers either, and typically have to scratch for every drop we get for our budget anyway.
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