The Changing Needs of End-User Computing

Paul Mah

A computing transformation is taking place, says Chue Chee Wei, the marketing director for Dell in South Asia and Korea. At an event that includes the official launch of the company's XPS 14 Ultrabook laptop in Singapore, Cheu highlighted a bunch of areas where end-user computing has evolved.

I thought the points are of special relevance to SMBs, and mention some of them below.

Always on, anywhere

Remember those times when some of us promised to check if an important email message was received, or to send an official quote once we were "back in the office"? These days, employees expect to be constantly connected, and citing the lack of Internet access sounds like an even more feeble excuse than saying you're busy.

For the greater productivity that always-on connectivity can bring about, it has also culminated in a new breed of IT-savvy users with higher expectations than before. These workers expect company services to be always up, and expect any downtime to be promptly rectified — not left until the next morning.

Devices that reflect 'me'

There was a time when the IT department made all decisions concerning the specific models of a desktop or laptop used by employees. The proliferation of BYOD though, does mean that these days are quickly coming to an end. Users are increasingly looking for devices that reflect individual preference, says Cheu.

Rather than identifying suitable computers, my suggestion is that SMBs should instead focus on furnishing workers with a list of requisite specifications devices must have. For laptops, this may range from the presence of hardware such as a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) and a fingerprint reader for heightened security, or the availability of a Gigabit Ethernet port to facilitate faster backups or system restores when sent to the company's IT help desk.

Redrawing the boundaries of security and management

It used to be that computing devices were managed and secured entirely within the confines of the firewall. Needless to say, BYOD quickly put in place the idea of a tightly locked-down corporate intranet, what with privately owned smartphones, tablets and laptops often being joined to the company network. Moreover, employees are increasingly bringing laptops home to continue their work, further stretching the boundaries of security and management.

There is no easy answer here, though the security side of things can be alleviated somewhat by building multiple layers of security. Where mobile devices are concerned, it may be necessary for SMBs to acquire third-party solutions in order to manage and secure them.

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