SAN DIEGO — Not that long ago, many people in IT weren’t familiar with the term end-user computing — despite the fact that delivering technical resources to end users and customers is essentially the main purpose of the IT department. But that’s all changing.
Historically, IT tended to focus on back-end infrastructure. Challenges around server scalability, storage capacity and network latency consumed the minds of IT pros. The user experience (UX) those systems delivered was often an afterthought. Today, end-user computing (EUC) is coming to the forefront as digital transformation trends sweep through many companies. It’s also transforming the way IT pros do their jobs.
The roles of attendees here at the Gartner Catalyst conference ranged from systems administrators to cloud architects to traditional desktop admins who’ve now embraced mobile. Many of them told me their jobs have evolved to require more attention on UX. An information services architect said his investment firm is even training users on low-code application development tools to let them create the apps they need themselves.
This is all happening because cloud computing, virtualization and software-defined architectures are solving the infrastructure problems of the past, said Danny Brian, vice president and analyst at Gartner, in the keynote Monday. As a result, IT pros from all backgrounds need to understand EUC, especially with the emergence of shadow IT and citizen technologists.
“A practitioner of IT must become far broader, because people who aren’t in our profession are becoming more technical and capable and coming up with solutions that work for them on their own,” said Mindy Cancila, research vice president at Gartner, during the keynote.
The two speakers shared these keys for IT pros to keep in mind as digital transformation trends force their roles to evolve:
Organizations must build front-end apps and their underlying infrastructure more precisely than the oft-overprovisioned systems of the past, Brian said. Traditionally, IT would plan the back end for peak capacity and provision resources that the app didn’t use, which was inefficient and costly.
IT must now create more specific, targeted apps that address one business problem, rather than delivering huge applications that tackle too much at once.
“Can you deliver solutions instantaneously at the moment they’re needed?” Brian said. “Do your apps and services have the proper granularity to them? Are you solving the right precise problems to begin with?”
Organizations should be able to dump resources they don’t need and shift quickly to handle new requirements and respond to emerging technologies, Brian said. This approach helps avoid unnecessary risk.
“What is the cost to migrate away from every solution you own today?” Cancila said. “Does every solution have an easy way to export all of the data it’s collecting?”
Disposability is particularly critical as IT begins to support more types of endpoints and adopt software, such as workspace management, that condenses multiple systems into single consoles.
Machine learning tools and digital assistants contribute to the trends of automation and of systems and users making their own decisions, and IT should embrace that, Cancila said.
“We have to build systems to empower people and empower machines to be more independent,” she said.
Despite these digital transformation trends, it’s important to remember that IT pros will always play a role in EUC. Admins will have to manage the tools that glean machine learning data, and developers will have to create applications that present that data in a way that makes sense.
“The more machines can anticipate what we need, the simpler the interfaces should become,” Brian said. “Are you buying tools … that solve problems, not create them?”