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How IT Leaders Are Shaping End-user Computing Workplaces

The end user has become the focus of today’s digital workplace. We asked IT leaders and practitioners what they are doing to foster this environment.

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The end user has become the focus of today’s digital workplace, thanks to modern work practices and the consumerization of IT. Individuals use multiple devices of their choosing, and work from anywhere at any time while accessing applications and services from the cloud.

To better understand this end-user focus, we asked IT leaders and practitioners for their definition of end-user computing (EUC), and how they are creating this type of environment.

Here’s what they had to say.

EUC: Defined by its impact

Organizational leaders are both strategic and realistic when they reflect on end-user computing. They are seeking business value from EUC technologies and tools, while providing a powerful and enabling end-user experience:

We do a lot of work in the digital marketing space, so EUC is about enabling and empowering our teams to create self-service solutions that allow them to move at the speed of the customer, instead of waiting for IT or a partner to deliver a given solution. We try to balance users’ needs for flexible, user-developed/controlled solutions with the business’s need for development and reporting rigor and control of those solutions. 

—Gene De Libero (@GeneDeLibero), principal, Digital Mindshare LLC

To me, end-user computing includes the innovative tools, platforms, and processes we give our employees that allow them to be as productive and impactful as they can be.

—Chris Haaker (@ntpro), director of End User Computing Innovation at the RELX Group

Achieving that productive impact will ultimately serve the business’s goals, says Jarrod Vassallo (@AUSbroadcast), partner and consultant at Endpoint Focus:

End-user computing, when done the right way, enables digital transformation, a workforce that is mobile, a platform that is secure, and a business that is satisfied with its computing experience.

The EU in EUC

When talking about ways to create a rich EUC environment, respondents agree that it must focus on one key ingredient: the end user.

IT needs to understand end-user personas — sales road warriors, citizen data scientists, status-hungry executives — to evolve the devices, applications, data interoperability capabilities, and support services. Most important is to centralize rich information sources to help end users discover the available computing services and best practices in how to leverage them. 

—Isaac Sacolick (@nyike), principle and CIO of StarCIO, author of Driving Digital 

Today’s end-user computing is about delivering IT services anytime, any place, any device. End-users expect persistent access to their personal applications while still being able to have credentialed access to their business applications. 

—Robert Schmidt (@EruptiveTech) co-founder of Fandea LLC

As James Townsend (@jamestownsend), president at InfoStrat says, end users “are often in the best position to understand their reporting and analytics requirements. Since reporting needs change so often, end users can adapt reports if they have the right tools.”

How to make it work

In practice, respondents have a variety of advice for EUC in the workplace:

By providing a rich palette of options, we allow each person to express themselves in their own way. A cookie-cutter approach, while sometimes more cost effective, can feel stifling to users. Especially in today’s modern workplace — with an emphasis on mobile first and innovative cloud services — new ways to work and collaborate all lead to more satisfied and productive users.

—Haaker at RELX

The following three key elements play a crucial role in every EUC solution:

1. The solution should support the organization’s goals and ambitions.

2. From an end-user perspective, the solution should be easy to use and not limit productivity.

3. The solution needs to be secure and flexible by design.

—Bram Wolfs (@bramwolfs), end user computing specialist at SLTN InterAccess

I believe end user computing today should primarily be about delivering classic applications rather than delivering a full desktop. Ideally, an end user has a personal device from which SaaS-, web-based- or apps from an app store can be accessed directly. On top of that, EUC can add classic Windows applications based on published applications technology, centrally managed from a public cloud, and transparently integrated into the users’ local desktops.

—Freek Berson (@fberson), end user computing specialist at Wortell

Today a rich end-user computing environment in business means three things: Collaborative capability through group messaging, continuity across desktop and mobile applications, and ongoing end-user training that ensures the security of the enterprise. Additionally, users now have a right to expect that even vertical applications serve up pleasing UIs and logical processes.

—Eric Knorr (@EricKnorr), editor in chief, InfoWorld.

First, it’s important to note there are no “just IT” projects anymore. Everything in an enterprise is either a business or mission project with IT baked-in from the start. End-user computing also must be baked-in to business or mission functions. Once an enterprise adopts a mindset of being mission-focused on meaningful results, with its combination of human and IT activities synchronized to achieve this goal, then the enterprise’s end-user computing environment should dynamically evolve to meet new requirements and new technologies in our rapidly changing world. This includes baking-in ease of use, access, security, and resiliency of these tools by design. 

—David Bray (@fcc_cio), CIO, Federal Communications Commission

One last thing about security

Security is a top-of-mind concern for all businesses, and it should receive no less attention when it comes to EUC.

From a security standpoint, end-user computing is a complicated balancing act. We need to enable our users to make the best use of their computers, with the freedom and flexibility to adapt to new needs. If we lock down the end-user computer too much, restricting the ability to get the job done, the user will find ways to subvert and bypass security controls. However, that freedom and flexibility is exactly what the bad guys target and use against us when they go after our companies. End-user computers are now the front line for attacks from the bad guys, from phishing to malware attacks via email and web browsers, not to mention the rise of ransomware. All of this combines to make it a tricky problem to solve with the variables constantly shifting, keeping us on our toes.

—Andrew Kalat (@Lerg), senior manager, co-host of the Defensive Security Podcast

To create a modern, digital workplace that focuses on the end user, while meeting requirements for flexibility and security, visit here.

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