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End-User: The Loneliest Term in IT

by | Oct 22, 2010

In today’s economy most IT implementations are centered on the prospect of improving some function of the “End-User” experience. Whether it is increased efficiency, cost reduction, or managing compliance standards, the term “End-User” is injected into every conversation like the word “widget” in economics class. What I have seen in my limited, but albeit frustrating, time as an end-user is a gap between what an end-user is defined by the daily activities they perform and what an end-user is based on implementation schedules and requirements gathering.

I spent the early part of my career as one of these “end-users” within a very large insurance company and witnessed this gradual disassociation with every IT acquisition. This is not a deliberate action on the part of corporate but rather an increased focus on task diversification and the always fun “do more with less” mentality. What has happened is that truly having an open dialogue with end-users, working to understand how processes actually play out is time consuming and often times over looked. During my time as an end-user I saw the complete overhaul of our Content Management System and the company’s race to ramp up production. As my division rushed to implement SharePoint and save our content management system there was no attempt to establish best practices or poll the people that worked with the CMS every day. We end-users had no chance to offer the insight that comes from working with the technology on a daily basis.

Since coming to Snowbound I have seen a shift in the response to end-users. We have dedicated ourselves to a truly customer-centric product. One of my main responsibilities is to call in to our existing customer base and get a feel for how our products are working for them and the ways in which we can improve the end-user experience. We are partnering with some of our most diverse customers and business groups within their organizations to talk directly with end-users. We want to understand how our products improve their daily workflow and what functionality we can build upon. Without an open dialogue with the people who touch our technology every day we could not be expected to maintain our competitive edge and provide the best in-class customer service that we have built our reputation on.