Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Why your end users' experience matters most of all

James O’Neill led me to a post from Steve Lamb about end users’ experience of IT:
I continue to be amazed how poor the corporate computing experience is for many people due to the provision of machines that are not fit for purpose - not due to lack of money being spent but simply due to poor configuration/management/consideration of what's required.

If you are an IT Professional then work with those around you to view your corporate infrastructure from the perspective of your users. Whatever your level of seniority I strongly suggest you make a few minutes to watch how end-users get on with their corporate PCs - chances are there are improvements that could be made simply by better understanding where the frustration lies.
While Steve’s coming from a slightly different direction, this echoes something I've been saying since I was a wet-behind-the-ears floor-walker supporting Windows 3.1: It doesn't matter how great your infrastructure is behind the scenes, if your desktop sucks, your users' experience of IT sucks.
I used to go on about this a lot, back when the prevailing belief was that if you worked with desktop technologies for more than a couple of years, it was because you weren’t smart enough to get ‘promoted’ to working with servers.  (Bitter?  Me?  Never.)  Even though you don’t hear that so much now, the majority of IT departments still recognise and reward someone working with a server product significantly more than someone with the equivalent level of expertise and responsibility working with the desktop.
So 15 years after I started ranting about the desktop being under-prioritised, have we moved forward?  I do hear more these days about focus on the end-user experience, so maybe we are finally starting to get through.  But I think there are still a lot of senior IT managers who would still find this revolutionary, and for Steve to be blogging on the topic I wonder how many underinvested desktop environments he’s seen. I hope it doesn't take another decade and a half for the value of the desktop (and the missed opportunity if you don’t sort it out) to be so obvious we can stop talking about it.

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